Hamilton limps to victory by a thread, with Verstappen P2 and Leclerc P3
The British Grand Prix provided perhaphs the most nailbiting battles of the season thus far, with last lap dama and nonstop action.
Hamilton takes victory with dramatic finish
A seventh home Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton seemed secured from Lap 1, as the Brit streaked ahead of the comparatively walking-paced grid in clear air. As the race progressed however, with two safety car periods concertinaing the field together, Hamilton’s win became less and less safe.
Photo credit: Mercedes
Mercedes elected to double stack both Hamilton and Bottas on Lap 14, due to the second of the two safety cars, pitting them both onto the Hard compound tyre - the plan being to stretch both sets until the end of the race.
The action continued to unfold throughout the race, climaxing in the final laps. Both Bottas and Hamilton lost their front left tyres due to extreme blistering, with the former running off the track on Lap 50 allowing Verstappen to cruise into P2, and the latter just barely crossing the line ahead of the Red Bull which had just inherited second place.
Photo credit: Mercedes
At the checkered flag, Verstappen had cut down a twenty second gap, but Hamilton was just out of the Dutchman’s reach. Crossing the line with three tyres, the Brit has his lucky stars to thank for his victory on Sunday.
Salvaged Grand Prix for Red Bull
The British Grand Prix started out poorly for Red Bull’s Alex Albon, who was already on the back foot having been knocked out of Q2 on Saturday and starting 13th. Before Lap 1 had even been completed, Albon and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen came together quite dramatically out of the Vale chicane (Turns 16 and 17) where Magnussen came off worse and was sent flying into the barrier.
Photo credit: Haas
Consequently, the Thai Red Bull driver brought out the first safety car and was handed a 5 second drive-through time penalty. Albon served his punishment on Lap 7, pitting for Hards and remaining stationary for an extra agonizingly slow 5 seconds, before being released into last place.
Despite his rocky start however, Albon kept his head down and pushed onward through the field, eventually crossing the line in P8. Throughout the remaining 45 laps, he fought tooth and nail with the midfield drivers, swooping past Russell, Räikkönen, Vettel and Stroll, to cross the line and collect two points.
Photo credit: Red Bull
Having started the Grand Prix well outside the points, pitting twice and running a portion of the race in last, Alex Albon can be extremely pleased with his British Grand Prix performance; combined with his teammate’s second place finish and fastest lap point, Red Bull certainly ended the weekend on a high.
Surprise podium for Ferrari
The last team expected to be on the podium in this week’s race - or indeed any races for the foreseeable future - was Ferrari; Leclerc however had a different plan.
Photo credit: Red Bull
Due to the pandemonium that unfolded in the last third of the race, Ferrari and Leclerc seized the opportunity that was granted to them, with Mercedes’ fatal tyre issues. As Bottas sank helplessly down the field to P11, young Monegasque Charles Leclerc cruised past and rose into the podium positions, for only the second time this season.
Predictably, Sebastian Vettel struggled in the race as much if not more than any other race so far, consistently running wide and off the track, and only managing to duel with the midfield teams from start to finish, subsequently crossing the line in P10 - an eye watering 41 seconds off of the leader’s pace.
Dramatic race for Haas
One team who was thoroughly in the mix during Sunday’s race - somewhat surprisingly - was Haas. The American team was in the spotlight more so than they have been in quite a while, first with Magnussen’s retirement on Lap 1 and later on in the race with Grosjean’s numerous battles for track position.
As expected, the Frenchman was rather controversial in his fighting style, and raised the tempers of most drivers he dueled with. Grosjean’s tactic of choice in the British Grand Prix was late darts under braking into the paths of challengers behind, who were attempting to overtake.
His questionable methods did not go unnoticed by the stewards, who showed Grosjean the black and white flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, and though he did not receive a 5 second time penalty, was still stationary in the pits for much longer than he would have liked due to an issue with his release.
McLaren and Ranult - unexpected results
The two midfield teams who stood out in Sunday’s race were McLaren and Renault, who arguably finished much higher than they would have predicted. Both teams were in the thick of it for the majority of the race, scrapping with each other numerous times throughout.
Photo credit: McLaren
On Lap 7, Lando Norris initiated the battling and threw down the gauntlet to Renault, diving down the inside of Daniel Ricciardo at Brooklands (Turn 6) and completing the move around Luffield (Turn 7). Following this top notch overtake, there were many more fights that ensued between the two Renault-powered teams.
Esteban Ocon not only challenged the two McLaren cars, but also the lone Racing Point of Lance Stroll; on Lap 47, the returning French driver inched ever closer to Stroll on the Wellington straight, and with the assistance of DRS (Drag Reduction System) shot down the inside of the Canadian into Brooklands (Turn 6) to claim P8.
Photo credit: Renault
As the brace of Renaults and McLarens rounded the final corner to take the checkere flag, it was Ricciardo and Ocon in P4 and P6 respectively, and Norris in P5. Teammate Carlos Sainz would have been in contention for those same positions, but like Hamilton and Bottas, lost his front left tyre because of high temperatures and blistering; it was an impressive weekend for both teams, but in the end it was Renault who had the upper hand.
Bitter-sweet for AlphaTauri
The Red Bull junior team has cause to be both proud and disappointed after their British Grand Prix; it was heartbreak for Daniil Kvyat but redemption for Gasly.
Photo credit: AlphaTauri
On Lap 13, Kvyat summoned the safety car for the second and final time, as his AT01 snapped suddenly and alarmingly out of control at Maggots (Turn 11) and was torn apart in the barrier. The Russian seemed to believe the accident was a result of his own foolishness, but upon closer inspection of his car it could be seen that his right rear tyre had punctured - the most likely cause of his premature end to the race.
Photo credit: AlphaTauri
It was smiles all around on teammate Pierre Gasly’s side of the garage, as he redeemed his disappointing Saturday performance (qualifying P11) and rose to P7, just ahead of Alex Albon in the senior Red Bull RB16. Silverstone was just the confidence booster that Gasly needed to stay motivated and fueled, and he will now look forward to the second Silverstone race with a rekindled drive.
Chaos, drama and heartbreak at Silverstone
This year’s British Grand Prix was no doubt the closest race of the season, and likely the most entertaining as well, on par with the Ausrian Grand Prix; whereas Austria provided the most retirements seen in a Grand Prix for quite a few years, Silverstone gifted the F1 community with constant and engaging action, that lead to a thrilling finish and surprise podium; what does Silverstone round 2 have in store?