Hamilton's home run: British GP review

By on Sunday, July 6, 2014
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The last couple of weeks have seen Formula 1 decide to introduce artificial sparks and standing restarts in a bid to spice up the ‘show’ (ah yes, that dreaded word) but fans were treated to a proper race on an old school track as drivers scrapped up and down the field before Lewis Hamilton claimed a popular victory at his home Grand Prix.

Hamilton arrived at Silverstone on Sunday on the back foot, having erroneously backed off during the final stages of Q3. The third sector dried sufficiently for times to ramp up and Mercedes tea-mate Nico Rosberg snatched pole. Hamilton, meanwhile, was demoted to sixth. He had never won a race from such a lowly position…

Rosberg retained his lead into Abbey while Hamilton moved ahead of Nico Hülkenberg and battled his way past the slow starting Sebastian Vettel into The Loop. Rosberg led Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and Hamilton but behind them all sorts of carnage begun.

Sergio Pérez and Jean-Éric Vergne made contact exiting Abbey and the duo dropped to the back of the field, but worse was to come for Ferrari and Kimi Räikkönen.

The Finn was spat wide on the exit of Aintree and as he rejoined the track he hit a bump in the grass pitching his F14T into the barriers by the bridge over the Wellington Straight. It was an enormous impact for the Finn, but he was now a target for the remainder of the pack as he spun across the track. Most of his rivals dodged him but Felipe Massa, starting his 200th race, was helpless to avoid his former team-mate and despite slamming on the brakes, his left rear struck the Finn’s stricken car. In the chaos Max Chilton’s Marussia was struck by an errant wheel while Kamui Kobayashi bounced across the grass in avoidance. Räikkönen clambered out of his wreckage and limped away to be taken for checks as the race was red flagged in order for the guardrail to be repaired. Ferrari says the Finn took a knock to his ankle and complained of knee pain but will be fit in time for the German Grand Prix.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Massa tried to make it back but the damage was too severe, while Chilton erroneously pitted under the red flag and copped a penalty.

Most teams changed tyres at the restart and Red Bull opted to put both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel onto the prime tyres.

After a wait of just over an hour the race resumed after one lap behind the safety car and Rosberg immediately hammered out an advantage. His first flying lap was a 1:38.609, compared to Button’s 1:41.050, and he already had a four second lead. Hamilton made up a place on Magnussen when the Dane ran wide at Copse and he soon got rid of Button into Brooklands on the following lap. By the time he had eased passed the cars of his former team, Hamilton was already five seconds down on Rosberg.

The Brit opted to save his tyres and ate into Rosberg’s lead until the German pitted at the end of lap 18. Hamilton stayed out for a further six laps and emerged six seconds in arrears to Rosberg but began to put the hammer down. Meanwhile, Rosberg’s lap times started tumbling as he complained of gearbox problems on the downshift. Hamilton sliced the gap from five seconds, to four, until his deficit was just 1.9s. As Rosberg accelerated for the Wellington Straight on Lap 29, the car cried no more and Hamilton breezed into the lead, to the elation of the home fans. Rosberg crawled around until Chapel, where he parked the car and remained in it for a couple of minutes as he desperately tried to reset the controls.

“I tried to get it into some safety settings, let Lewis through and just keep going until the end of the race,” he said. “But there was nothing we could do so I had to stop the car. All I can do is accept that these things happen and work with the team to find out what went wrong. It's a shame for the race in a way, as it could have been a great battle against Lewis.”

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

As Hamilton assumed control of the race it was Valtteri Bottas who was his nearest challenger, albeit over 40 seconds behind. The Finn had made stunning progress from 15th on the grid as he scythed his way past faster rivals. Bottas emerged from his second stop just behind Vettel but soon made his way past and continued unchallenged to collect his best result in the sport.

Riccardo slipped back during the first stint of the race on the hard tyres but he soon made progress once Red Bull fitted the options to his RB10. He hung on to third despite coming under increasing pressure from Button across the last few laps. Button came agonisingly close to collecting his first British Grand Prix podium but ultimately had to settle for fourth on an emotional weekend for the Brit as he and several thousand others celebrated the life of his late father, John.

Vettel came out on top, in terms of position but not reputation, in an epic ding-dong with fellow champion Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard started from 16th after a qualifying error and made another mistake as he overshot his pit box at the start. Alonso was slapped with a five second stop and go penalty and when Vettel emerged from his stop, the Ferrari driver pounced immediately and went around the outside of Copse in a breathtaking move.

Vettel soon closed the gap to Alonso and the duo scrapped for several laps as Alonso somehow kept the faster Red Bull driver behind. It was a superb piece of defensive driving from Alonso, although the consistent complaining from both drivers about the other via the team radios somewhat soured the atmosphere.

The Red Bull driver admitted he expected a podium.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

“It felt very close with Fernando – maybe a bit too close! It got a bit silly when we both started to complain about the other going off track; I don’t think the people care too much if the car is a little bit to the left or the right.

“I got the message that I should respect the limits and that he was complaining, so I was doing the same thing. I’m not sure who won the list keeping. I think twice it was maybe a bit too harsh into Turn six, but it was good to get the move at the end. I expected to get third today, the pace was there but the strategy wasn’t right.”

Magnussen slipped back to seventh as he was ultimately unable to hang onto the back of the scrap between the champions, while Hülkenberg took eighth after suffering from balance issues throughout the race. Daniil Kvyat was a creditable ninth, while Vergne claimed a point after his first lap shunt with Pérez, who came 11th.

Curiously, being put to the back actually aided Vergne’s self-belief.

“Starting from the back of the grid after the red flag and overtaking the cars in front of me was actually good fun,” he enthused. “I think today I have found again the aggressiveness I knew I had and it's certainly a boost for my self-confidence.”

Lotus struggled for pace, consigning Romain Grosjean to 12th, ahead of Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi. Kamui Kobayashi was a lonely 15th, ahead of the penalised Chilton, and believed that his CT05 was affected by his grassy moment at the start.

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

“The car did feel very different to how it was when I started – the aero balance had changed and it was clear we’d lost some downforce, almost certainly from the rallying I had to do, but I kept going as hard as I could,” he said.

Pastor Maldonado retired on the final lap with smoke trailing from his engine after having been involved in an earlier collision with Esteban Gutiérrez. The Mexican dived down the inside into Vale and tipped the Venezuelan into the air, causing terminal damage to his C33. Gutiérrez stumbled on for a few corners before finding himself in the gravel trap at Farm. He blamed Maldonado.

“When I tried to overtake him in Vale he braked and did not leave me enough space,” summarised Gutiérrez. “I was already beside him and could not avoid a collision with him.”

But up front there were no such problems for Lewis Hamilton, who finally claimed his second home success to slash Rosberg’s championship advantage to just four points at the halfway stage of the season.

It was a perfect day for Hamilton, with his biggest complaint being race sponsor Santander's woeful trophy.

"The trophies that we have nowadays, whilst it’s a real privilege being on top of the podium, my one fell to pieces! The bottom fell off the one we just had. It’s plastic, it must cost 10 pounds! It’s so bad. I might just get the plaque, which is probably the most expensive part of the trophy I think. Back in the day they really, really made the trophies. And this is the special thing about being on the podium and winning. These trophies mean – for me, I don’t know how it is for the other drivers – but this is what we have to show for our lifetime achievements.

Hamilton will be hoping that his greatest achievement is still yet to come.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

PositionNumberDriverTeamLapsTime/RetiredGridPts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes52Winner625
277Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes52+30.1 secs1418
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault52+46.4 secs815
422Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes52+47.3 secs312
51Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault52+53.8 secs210
614Fernando AlonsoFerrari52+59.9 secs168
720Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes52+62.5 secs56
827Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes52+88.6 secs44
926Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault52+89.3 secs92
1025Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault51+1 Lap101
1111Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes51+1 Lap7
128Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault+1 Lap11
1399Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari+1 Lap13
1417Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari+1 Lap12
1510Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault+2 Lap22
164Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari+2 Lap17
1713Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault+3 Lap20
Ret6Nico RosbergMercedes+24 Laps1
Ret9Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault+41 Laps21
Ret21Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari+43 Laps19
Ret19Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes+52 Laps15
Ret7Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+52 Laps18

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