Silverstone – To begin, the British Grand Prix is one of my all-time favourite races on the calendar. So it was with great pleasure that I write about today’s nail-biter of a race. After a surprising Q3 result on Saturday, the race began with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg at pole, with four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel next to him starting at second.
The second row consisted of McLaren’s British driver Jenson Button and Force India’s German Nico Hülkenberg, followed by Button’s rookie Danish teammate Kevin Magnussen and the race favourite Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the third row starting in fifth and sixth.
The fourth row was taken by Force India’s Mexican driver Sergio Pérez and Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull. In ninth and tenth position they were followed by Russian Daniil Kvyat and Frenchman Jean-Éric Vergne of Toro Rosso.
Those who were eliminated in Q2 included Frenchmen Romain Grosjean of Lotus (11), and Jules Bianchi of Marussia (12). Bianchi’s Marussia teammate, Briton Max Chilton and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber qualified 13th and 14th. However, Chilton received a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change, resulting in his starting from 18th.
Q1 saw the elimination of a number of the unusual suspects, namely the two Ferraris of Spaniard Fernando Alonso (17) and Finn Kimi Räikkönen (19), along with the two Williams of Finn Valtteri Bottas (15) and Brazilian Felipe Massa (16). Alongside these shockers, Sauber’s Adrian Sutil qualified in 15th. The back of the grid was made up of the two Caterhams of Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi (22) and the Swede Marcus Ericsson (21) along with Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado (20) of Venezuela, whose qualification time was disallowed following his running out of fuel on the circuit at the end of Q2.
The race itself began with quite a bang, with Vettel’s Red Bull quickly being outrun by the two McLarens along with Hamilton’s Mercedes. Things came to a standstill when Räikkönen lost control of his car on the Wellington straight, “At Turn 5, I went off the track and while trying to get back on, I must have hit a kerb.” Räikkönen said in a press-release on his Facebook page. Hitting the barriers at 150 mph, Räikkönen hit Massa who was also forced to retire due to damage to the left rear of his car. Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi was quite lucky in avoiding the wreckage, swerving far to the left around Räikkönen into the grass before returning to the track.
The next hour was red flagged, leaving the top three at the race’s recommencement as Rosberg, Button, Magnussen. At the time that the red flag was raised, Chilton decided to reenter the pits in order to have work done on his car. Doing so during a red flag stoppage was an infringement upon the sporting regulations, resulting in his needing to serve a drive-through penalty. It really was too bad for Chilton, who had up to that point been running in 10th.
With the race restarted, Rosberg quickly left the McLarens in the dust. Those two drivers were steadily overtaken over the next few laps by Rosberg’s British teammate Lewis Hamilton, who began his long fight for first.
Another driver to take advantage of the McLarens’ situation was Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who quickly passed by Nico Hülkenberg of Force India and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Also moving up the field was the surviving Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
On Lap 11, Esteban Gutierrez attempted a pass on Pastor Maldonado, which went spectacularly wrong for the latter’s Lotus. Gutierrez’s Sauber ended up hoisting the Lotus up into the air, allowing for its unintended wings to spread in flight. The collision forced the Sauber to slide off into the gravel too damaged to continue, whilst the Lotus did go on in the race.
Nico Rosberg pitted at Lap 19, having a fantastic 2.7 second pit stop. Soon thereafter, once back out on the track, the German began to report gear box troubles. His British teammate, Lewis Hamilton, continued on the track for another 5 laps, pitting at Lap 24. Hamilton had a far worse pit stop, which lasted for 4.1 seconds, a full 1.5 seconds longer than Rosberg. This was largely due to the fickleness of the rear left tyre in it’s installation onto the car. Nonetheless, Hamilton rejoined the race in second, just behind the gearbox-maligned German.
By Lap 29, Lewis Hamilton took the lead from Nico Rosberg, who began to slow down due to that worrisome gear box, which resulted in the German’s retirement at Lap 30. Hamilton kept the lead of the race from there on out, charging on his way to becoming one of a select number of British drivers to have two wins at Silverstone.
By Lap 31, Hamilton’s lead was already by 24 seconds over the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who after a pit stop at Lap 32 led the rest of the field to the chequered flag.
Perhaps the most dramatic duel of the latter stages of the race was the one between Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. With the British fanbase cheering on the Spaniard, the fight lasted for ten laps from 38-48, with Vettel eventually forcing his way past Alonso, much to both drivers’ dislike as their radio messages to their respective pit walls can tell.
The final fight of the race was between McLaren’s British driver Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo. In a fashion rather dissimilar to the most recent Ashes, the Briton actually had a shot at catching the Australian, with Button finishing a mere 0.8 seconds behind Ricciardo.
The results from this year’s British Grand Prix leave the championship wide open, as Rosberg’s lead now narrows to a mere 4 points (165 to Hamilton’s 161.)