Round 10, 2018: Great Britain
With England's football team getting to their first World Cup semi-final for around 30 years and with the yearly grace of Wimbledon in full flow, the British Grand-Prix adds the cherry to the top of this sporting cake! Can Hamilton claim his record breaking 6th British GP win? Even with the big changes made to Silverstone in 2010, the venue still remains a power circuit. This, despite their shock reliability issues in Austria, suits the Mercedes right down to the ground. They have incredibly managed 5 straight wins here! The German outfit have also locked out pole as far back as 2013; so, it seems likely they will complete another triumph here this weekend. But not certain. The elephant in the room is that Silverstone’s participation in Formula 1 is still set to end after 2019. Whilst other races could hold the title of “British Grand Prix” like they have in the past, all who love the sport are saddened to enter the penultimate year watching F1 here. But there is still hope! Given that the sport has changed hands since the last deal, unfavourable to Silverstone runners BRDC, was signed by Bernie Ecclestone. But whilst new owners Liberty Media have been very forth-coming in a desire to secure famous races, such as ten-year Canadian Grand Prix deal, we might well be running out of time. Therefore, we must enjoy the British Grand Prix more than ever this season.I hope that this review will start you off. I might also point you in the direction of Racing Edge Magazine; in which I have a fuller review of the season so far ahead of this race.
Race Result: Sebastian Vettel (1st) & Kimi Raikkonen (3rd) Points Total (after this round): 287 Grid(Qualifying): VET: 2nd (1:25.936) & RAI: 3rd (1:25.990) Events & Analysis: Vettel jumped Hamilton at the start and has Raikkonen to thank for accidentally shunting Lewis off the road into turn 3. The Finn picked up a 10 second pen for his troubles as Vettel streaked out to a 5 second lead by lap 7. Kimi was irate over the radio, saying he "isn't allowed to think anymore" on his own strategy to get past the Red-Bull's ahead. When serving his penalty the Finn dropped into 11th but quickly made his way through the field once more. Vettel began to nurse his tyres into lap 30 and beyond; the Ferrari famously suffering huge tyre deg here in recent years. As such, the gap then dropped to 2 seconds entering the final 3rd of the race; but with two safety cars coming out, Vettel pitted and tried to gain advantage with a new set of softs. Kimi had an excellent duel with Verstappen after both stoppages and then went to hunt down HAM into 3rd after a brave move on the Dutchamn. The Ferrari's had a lot to do to get past their respective silver arrows but they managed it to claim a double podium and extend their lead of both title fights.
Race Result: Lewis Hamilton (2nd) & Valtteri Bottas (4th) Points Total (after this round): 267 Grid(Qualifying): HAM: 1st (1:25.892) & BOT: 4th (1:26.217) Events & Analysis: Hamilton went from pole to plum-last in 3 corners! After being jumped by Vettel and Bottas at the start, he was finally hit by Raikkonen into a spin! Yet, somehow, by lap 12 he was 6th again! That set the tone for his great recovery drive today, even though he had to let Bottas through during the pit-stop phase. Things were looking good for Mercedes, due to less heavy tyre wear than the Ferraris. But all changed in the emergence of the Safety Car as both drivers were told to stay out for track position. But soon that gamble was soon to be in vain when Bottas' tyres dropped off a cliff; allowing Vettel through for the lead and then Raikkonen into the podium positions. Hamilton tried to keep pace with Seb, but (hopefully unlike football) could only come home in 2nd place.
Race Result: Daniel Ricciardo (5th) & Max Verstappen (DNF) Points Total (after this round): 199 Grid(Qualifying): VER: 5th (1:26.602) & RIC: 6th (1:27.099) Events & Analysis: Verstappen and Ricciardo kept their noses clean at the hectic start, thus picking up a few places (into 2nd and 4th) and they ran well, without much incident from there until the safety cars. The only strange moment was when Ricciardo had to pit again for a 2nd time around lap 30; the only driver to do so outside of SC window. They were trying to play a counter strategy to Ferrari, but with Ericsson's crash and the Haas tangle with Renault, their advantage of newer tyres was lessened as the other teams could rest their degradation a little. As such, they actually lost ground very quickly to the excellent sparring between Ferrari and Mercedes when the race got back under way. Then, in the final moments and for the second time this year, the two drivers seemed to come together in an accident. But in truth Verstappen merely spun due to brake issues; forcing him into a retirement.
Race Result: Nico Hulkenberg (6th) & Carlos Sainz (DNF) Points Total (after this round): 70 Grid(Qualifying): HUL: 11th (1:27.901) & SAI: 16th (1:28.456) Events & Analysis: Hulkenberg, despite a less than stellar qualifying, was into 6th by lap 1 on this hot summer's day. Carlos Sainz also did amazingly well to undo his poor 16th placed quali performance with a calm first lap. But whilst his German team-mate got his head down to keep hold of decent 8 points, that was good as things got for the Spaniard. After some complaints about not being told enough about "who he was racing" or when he was allowed to push, Sainz tried to make his mark following the safety car re-start. However, Grosjean had other ideas and kept his nerve into the fast copse corner; the two came together in a huge accident which forced both into early retirement.
Race Result: Kevin Magnussen (9th) & Romain Grosjean (DNF) Points Total (after this round): 51 Grid(Qualifying): MAG: 7th (1:27.244) & GRO: 8th (1:27.455) Events & Analysis: Haas went backwards from the start and down into 10th and 13th, thus crushing their hopes of fighting Red-Bull rather fast! The cause of this became clearer when the race-stewards announced they were investigating both men for a collision on each-other. This now contributes to an obvious reckoning; namely that Haas keep managing to shoot themselves in the foot this year, when pace sometimes indicates they should be ahead of Renault in the standings instead of colliding with them on track! Grosjean's accident with Carlos Sainz after the safety car re-start might not have been his fault; but bad luck continues to run for the Frenchman and the American team alike. They need more results akin to Austria last time out, instead of lukewarm races like this. They could have done much better than 9th this time, given the collisions and safety cars.
Race Result: Esteban Ocon (7th) & Sergio Perez (11th) Points Total (after this round): 48 Grid(Qualifying): OCO: 10th (1:28.194 in Q3) & PER: 12th (1:27.928) Events & Analysis: There were some insane scenes at the start of this race when Perez went down to 19th at turn 3, spinning across the pit-lane exit as both Williams drivers came out! Luckily there was not a collision for either the Mexican or the Grove guys. From there Sergio pitted with Alonso on lap 14 and dropped again to the back of the field. In reality then, the 11th placed finish was a very handy recovery drive. But, Sergio cannot be pleased with how, once again, he has been out-shined by Ocon in the entire weekend. It has got to the point where it is rumours about Esteban rising up the grid which are catching the eye and not Sergio; despite the yester-year whispers of Ferrari coming in for the Force-India stalwart. That being said, the team move above McLaren this weekend thanks to Perez' higher-placed finish of 3rd in Azerbaijan.
Race Result: Fernando Alonso (8th) & Stoffel Vandoorne (12th) Points Total (after this round): 48 Grid(Qualifying): ALO: 13th (1:28.139) & VAN: 17th (1:29.096) Events & Analysis: Alonso (after another great qualifying performance where he shattered Stoffel by a clear second) was up two places on the start, as was Vandoorne. The Spaniard pitted early on lap 14 and dropped down to 18th. Thanks to this undercut, Fernando offered a brief threat at points before dipping out as his tyres lost grip. But, all changed when he was one of the first to pit under the safety car, moving back onto the faster soft compound tyres. That quick thinking allowed him to make some good moves on Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen into the final laps and get his third 8th placed finish of the season. Vandoorne meanwhile, who had struggled with set-up all weekend, finished last of the runners bar the woeful Williams team.
Race Result: Pierre Gasly (10th) & Brendon Hartley (DNS) Points Total (after this round): 20 Grid(Qualifying): GAS: 14th (1:28.343) & HAR: 20th/pit-lane (NO TIME) Events & Analysis: Brendon Hartley did not take part in qualifying after a big crash in FP3. His car's front suspension broke spectacularly and catapulted him into the barrier. He was meant to start in the Pit-Lane today, along with both Williams, but further issues on the floor of his car meant he was still in the garage as the lights went out. Despite their best efforts, he was doomed to a DNS. Gasly, on the other hand, did well in a couple of scraps today and made the most of the chaos ahead to claim a solitary point. Now, with multiple rumours about Hartley's future, Pierre might soon have to contend with a different team-mate. I would back him to beat any new-comer in this car though.
Race Result: Marcus Ericsson (DNF) & Charles LeClerc (DNF) Points Total (after this round): 16 Grid(Qualifying): LEC: 9th (1:27.879) & ERI: 15th (1:28.391) Events & Analysis: An unfortunate double DNF for Sauber comes courtesy of two big mistakes. One from team, one from driver. Despite LeClerc's excellent 9th placed quali and good fighting with the Renault returning Raikkonen, he recorded his first ever DNF in Formula 1 after the team did not even secure the tyres properly following the pit-stop. He was soon joined in the garage by Ericsson as the Swede lost (not for the first time this weekend, eh!) control into a spectacular accident in Abbey. With other strange incidents, LeClerc's promise and a stronger car than previous outings here, Sauber did have a chance at some points. But they will have to ruminate on what could have been instead.
Race Result: Lance Stroll (13th) & Sergey Sirotkin (14th) Points Total (after this round): 4 Grid(Qualifying): SIR: 18th/pit-lane (1:29.252) & STR: 19th/pit-lane (NO TIME) Events & Analysis: Stroll got his car stuck in the gravel at the start of Q1 and did not set a time, while Sirotkin also spun before dropping out. The rear end of the Williams is now basically a huge bucking bronco. Both of them started in the pits. That is oft-good for keeping out of the first lap incidents, so I cannot imagine what Sirotkin thought as Perez span across the pit-lane exit on the opening lap! Apart from that their outing was anonymous; dropping to the back of the field by lap 20. Despite safety-cars and many retirements, they could not claim even a solitary point and finished back of the pack again.