British Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has taken a comfortable win at Silverstone, leading home teammate Valtteri Bottas as late tyre problems cost the two Ferrari drivers comfortable podium positions.
Hamilton led away as the lights went out to start the race; this was after the initial start was aborted due to Renault’s Jolyon Palmer breaking down with a hydraulic issue en route to the grid. With his car in an unsafe position, the field were sent around on a second formation lap before the race began properly. While Hamilton didn’t come under any pressure at the start, the gloves were off between the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen & Sebastian Vettel, as well as the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. All three traded places, but it was Raikkonen who held firm to hold P2 at the end of the first lap ahead of Verstappen and Vettel.
Hamilton slowly stretched out his lead over Raikkonen, while Vettel applied pressure to the Red Bull ahead of him continuously. Getting past into Stowe at one point, the pair ran side by side through the exit and into Club pushing each other wide, with Verstappen remaining ahead. Vettel pitted from P4 on Lap 19 in an attempt to undercut the Red Bull, with Verstappen doing likewise a lap later to counter the Ferrari attack. However, Vettel’s outlap pace, coupled with a slightly slow stop from Red Bull, meant Vettel got through and up to P3 behind Raikkonen.
The Finn’s pace wasn’t fantastic, unable to hold onto the back of the Mercedes, and the gap continuously ebbed upwards throughout. However, he appeared to have enough pace to maintain a 4 second lead over teammate Vettel, who started coming under pressure from the recovering Valtteri Bottas with ten laps remaining.
The Mercedes man had started P9 due to a gearbox penalty, but got through Q2 on Saturday on the Soft tyres, allowing him to start on the same compound. Running a long first stint, he pitted on Lap 33 and set off in pursuit of the Ferraris. Catching P3 Vettel on Lap 42, he had a go into Stowe and the pair almost collided exiting the corner. Braking late into Club, Vettel held the position for another lap before being passed easily the next time they went down the Hangar Straight. Now up to P3, he set about closing the 7.7 gap to Raikkonen.
This job became very easy as the two Ferraris encountered huge problems in the closing two laps. Raikkonen was first, suffering a front left tyre delamination through Copse and needing to trundle back to the pits for a fresh set of tyres. Moments later, the same problem hit Sebastian Vettel and he ran wide through Brooklands and needed to come back in for new tyres. It was a huge moment for the championship, as he fell down the order and could only manage P7 at the flag. Vettel’s problem allowed Raikkonen back onto the podium with P3. Max Verstappen came home P4 for Red Bull, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who overtook Hulkenberg on the final lap. Vettel finished P7, the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon & Sergio Perez P8 & P9 respectively, and Felipe Massa P10 for Williams.
Outside the points, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne had to settle for P11, with Kevin Magnussen P12 in the lead Haas. His teammate Romain Grosjean finished P13, with Marcus Ericsson P14 for Sauber. Daniil Kvyat finished P15, a lowly position after he collided early in the race with teammate Carlos Sainz. Squabbling for position through Copse and Maggotts, Kvyat lost control and hit Sainz, eliminating the Spaniard immediately. The Russian was able to continue after pitting for repairs, but was given a drive through penalty and two licence points for the incident. Lance Stroll was P16 for Williams, with Pascal Wehrlein P17 for Sauber.
Joining Sainz & Palmer on the sidelines was Fernando Alonso. The McLaren driver, who went into the race with a 30 place grid penalty due to engine penalties, suffered another technical issue and retired on Lap 32.
Vettel’s title lead is slashed to just a solitary point, bad news on a day where Mercedes enjoyed a clear pace advantage.