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Hamilton wins home Grand Prix in British thriller – Race Report

British Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix in dramatic fashion. He took the win ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel rounding out the podium. While a familiar looking podium, the race itself turned out to be a thriller right from the get go.

It all kicked off immediately at the start of the race. Upon lights out, Felipe Massa vaulted from P1 straight past the two Mercedes drivers to lead into Turn 1. Bottas’ start was almost as good, briefly snatching P2 before Hamilton eased back past before the end of Lap 1. Towards the back, there was carnage as the two Lotus drivers & the two McLarens collided with each other in separate incidents. Grosjean, encountering snap oversteer through Turn 3, slid into his teammate Maldonado and was out immediately. Fernando Alonso, jinking to avoid the debris, lost the rear of his car. He slammed nose first into Jenson Button alongside him, removing the British driver from his home race immediately.

Alonso & Maldonado were able to keep going, but Maldonado pulled over just moments later and was told to shut down his car. Fernando Alonso pitted for a new nose and resumed the race from the back. The order under the early safety car was Massa, Hamilton, Bottas, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, but this changed immediately on the restart.

Hamilton, lining up Massa at the restart, attempted to go around the outside into the penultimate corner. Running wide, Bottas snuck through. This even allowed Nico Rosberg to have a go at passing Hamilton; a move he defended. Bottas quickly caught Massa and started to show signs of wanting to pass Massa, but was told by his team to ‘not race his teammate’. Moments later, the Finn was almost completely alongside Massa on the outside into Stowe. This led to Williams telling him again not to race before, seconds later, being told he could pass provided it was done very cleanly. With Williams concentrating on pulling away from Mercedes, being held up through racing each other wouldn’t help the team’s game plan.

Bottas loitered around 0.5 seconds behind Massa for a while, but wasn’t able to find a way past. Hamilton was a further couple of tenths behind, with Rosberg hanging on immediately behind Hamilton. Almost ten seconds behind them, Hulkenberg led the Ferraris until they pitted – Raikkonen taking on a fresh set of Hards on Lap 14, Vettel on Lap 15. Their pace immediately improved, suggesting the possibility of clearing Hulkenberg when he stopped.

With Williams enjoying track position over the Mercs, the Brackley team appearing to dummy the Williams team into a panicked stop in a transparent attempt at an undercut. Williams didn’t fall for it though, and Mercedes withdrew back into the pits. Bottas continued to hound Massa, putting the Brazilian under pressure through the old pit straight complex; Massa held firm.

Hamilton was first of the squabbling Mercs & Williams to pit. He emerged in P9, and had to hold off Sergio Perez through Turn 3 in order to maintain the place. He had come out behind the Ferraris though, but ahead of Felipe Massa. Massa, pitting the next lap at the same time as Rosberg, had to fend off a stern challenge from the second Mercedes as the two emerged side by side from their pitboxes into the pitlane; a duel Massa won. Bottas was last of the top four to pit, coming in on Lap 22 for a set of Mediums. He emerged behind Massa, but held off Rosberg to remain P3. Side by side, the pair entered the Wellington Straight with Bottas on the outside; he held onto the position in a great display of bravery. This meant the order was Hamilton, Massa, Bottas, Rosberg after Hamilton’s undercut had worked. The Ferraris had taken over the P5 & P6 positions after their early stops, clearing Hulkenberg & Kvyat. At over ten seconds behind the leading four, it would be a tough ask to haul themselves into contention for a podium. Raikkonen, leading Vettel, enjoyed a 1.5 seconds advantage over his teammate. P7 was Kvyat, who had also cleared Hulkenberg in P8. P9 was Carlos Sainz with Sergio Perez in the last points position in P10. These were the positions on Lap 26, the halfway point of the race.

While track and air temperatures remained the same, the sky appeared to be becoming gloomier at the halfway point. The relatively low rain threat of 30% at the race start seemed to be increasing, something the teams seemed to be in agreement on. Force India, Ferrari & Mercedes all warned their drivers about possible rain towards race end with possible drops starting at Turn 15. Nico Rosberg’s engineer informed him that it would be ‘fifteen minutes’ until the rain hit, meaning around Lap 40. Lewis Hamilton had started to stretch his lead at the front, easing the gap slowly out to 4.5 seconds over Massa by Lap 29. With the expected rain seemingly speeding towards the circuit, anticipation began to increase as Hamilton continued to ease the gap out at the front – up to 5.3 seconds on Lap 30.

Carlos Sainz, running in P9, joined his teammate in retirement on Lap 33. Grinding to a halt leaving the penultimate corner, he stopped his car on the outside of the final turn. This dangerous position meant the Virtual Safety Car was deployed to neuter the cars pace as the stricken Toro Rosso was recovered. The cars continued to circulate, weaving around to keep their tyre temperatures up. The incidents so far meant that just three cars now remained on track outside the points positions: Alonso’s McLaren and the two Manor drivers. The Virtual Safety Car was withdrawn at the end of Lap 35, with the gaps virtually unchanged between the drivers.

The umbrellas started to appear on Lap 36 as the rain started to hit the track. Mercedes appeared to think about a possible swap to intermediates, as the pit crew loitered in the garage ready to deploy if needed. The grip started to disappear on Lap 38 as Roberto Merhi, Nico Rosberg & Sergio Perez all ran wide. Sebastian Vettel almost lost his Ferrari’s rear end leaving Woodcote, as the lap times started to slow. Lap 39 saw a position change at Ferrari as Vettel blasted past Raikkonen on the Hangar Straight; Raikkonen immediately pitted for Inters. With the grip slipping away, Bottas made an error through Copse – this allowed Rosberg to finally steal the position from the Finn. Hamilton, up front, also made an error at Copse and ran wide; he continued without problem.

Rosberg was enjoying the conditions, catching Massa quickly. He dived past the Williams on Lap 40, but was a full seven seconds behind leader Hamilton. Looking at the laptimes, Kimi Raikkonen’s gamble on Inters didn’t appear to be working out as he lapped several seconds slower than the cars around him. He was caught and passed by Sergio Perez on Lap 41 as the Finn lapped around 8 seconds slower than the leading times.

Nico Rosberg was flying now that he was up to P2, reducing the gap by two seconds on Lap 42. This meant the deficit was slashed to 3.7 seconds, before going 1.4 seconds faster through Sector 1 alone on the next lap. Feeling the pressure, Hamilton pitted on Lap 44 for Inters as Rosberg stayed out. Vettel also changed to Inters at the same time, as the rain did appear to be visibly heavier. Rosberg pitted the following lap. Just the one lap difference between the pair meant a gap of 8.5 seconds as they resumed P1 & P2 on Lap 45, with Felipe Massa a further five seconds behind Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel had also made the most of the timing of his stop to pass Felipe Massa on Lap 45 to take over the final podium position. He immediately started to pull away from the Williams as the Grove teams cars seemed to struggle somewhat in the wet conditions compared to the SF-15T.

At the very back, Will Stevens fell foul of the wet conditions. He slid off the track and lost his front wing. While he got back to the track, he lost position to Roberto Merhi and fell to last of the remaining runners. Kimi Raikkonen pitted again from P8 on Lap 48 to take on another set of Inters, his first set having been taken on too early and wearing out on the still mostly dry track.

At the front, Lewis Hamilton had eased the gap out to just over 10 seconds over Rosberg. There was then a 16 second gap behind back to Vettel to complete the podium. There were no final lap position changes and the race ended under a weak sun breaking through the cloud cover. Hamilton eased home to take the win to the delight of his many assembled fans, meaning God Save The Queen got a rapturous response.

  1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 52 Laps
  2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +10.9
  3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +25.4
  4. Felipe Massa Williams +36.8
  5. Valtteri Bottas Williams +63.1
  6. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing +63.9
  7. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +78.7
  8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1 Lap
  9. Sergio Perez Force India +1 Lap
  10. Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 Lap
  11. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 Lap
  12. Roberto Merhi Manor +3 Laps
  13. Will Stevens Manor +3 Laps
  • DNF Carlos Sainz
  • DNF Daniel Ricciardo
  • DNF Max Verstappen
  • DNF Pastor Maldonado
  • DNF Romain Grosjean
  • DNF Felipe Nasr
  • DNF Jenson Button

 

 

About Thomas Maher

Thomas Maher is one of the founders of FormulaSpy.com. He is an FIA-accredited F1 journalist, as well as working in the Irish radio industry. Hobbies include writing, music, and polishing his beloved Mitsubishi FTO. Check him out on your social network below.

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