Feature F1 Unlocked
HINCH'S HEROES: Who makes Hinch's top 5 after a scintillating Silverstone weekend?
This season, former IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe is taking stock after every Grand Prix and presenting his ‘heroes’ from the weekend, exclusively for F1.com. Here are his picks from the British Grand Prix.
A record crowd over the three days of the event was rewarded with a phenomenal race weekend at Silverstone. Returning to the circuit that hosted the first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix is always something everyone in the paddock looks forward to – and when you look at the end result, it was local teams and drivers that shone brightest on one of Britain’s biggest sporting days…
Lando Norris – P2
It was absolutely no surprise that Lando Norris won the fan vote for Drive of the Day. Some were questioning if the result he achieved in Austria (helped by those McLaren car updates) was a one off, but an incredible effort in qualifying, backed up by equally impressive race pace proves that McLaren may have well and truly engaged in the fight with the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes for best of the rest behind Red Bull.
Norris’ Q3 lap had him sitting provisional pole for a glorious few moments in front of his home crowd – which is an incredible feat given where the papaya cars have usually found themselves on Saturdays.
But for me, even the lightning start that saw him leading his home Grand Prix for a few laps wasn’t the highlight of his race. For me, it was his ability to hold off a Mercedes driven by seven-time champion and eight-time British Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, on hard tyres while Hamilton was on softs, on a late restart, to secure his maiden podium of the season and first at home, that really set Norris’ performance apart.
Not putting a wheel wrong, capitalising on the opportunity – and giving the home crowd much to cheer for – puts Lando top of the list this week.
Oscar Piastri – P4
You can’t talk about McLaren’s outstanding weekend at Silverstone without including the efforts of the Australian rookie.
His season to date has been one of consistent, nearly mistake-free events, as he and the team tackled the challenging handling characteristics of the MCL60.
Finally fitted with the upgrades that Norris enjoyed in Austria, the rookie put himself on the inside of the second row in qualifying, only marginally off Norris’ time. In the race, a blinding start put him wheel to wheel with Max Verstappen at the first turn, and early on he paced his teammate perfectly to set up what looked to be a McLaren double podium.
It was only an ill-timed Safety Car that lost him track position to Hamilton, and like Norris, he did an incredible job to hold off a soft-shod Mercedes while trying to get his hard tyres up to temp on the late restart. Not buckling under the pressure of running up front and bringing home a top five finish in the first half of a rookie campaign is a mighty impressive effort.
Fernando Alonso – P7
This race was so beautifully Fernando Alonso. How many times over the years have we seen him extract a result out of a car that had no business being where he got it? Don’t get me wrong, the Aston Martin isn’t a dog, but it’s clearly lost some of the early season shine as other teams’ updates have out-paced the Silverstone based squad’s rate of development.
But through the downturn in form Alonso continues to shine. A ninth in qualifying would’ve been below what was expected before the weekend, but good strategy and cagey driving not only got him track position, but for the entire duration of the Grand Prix he kept arguably faster cars behind him.
It seemed that at all times there was a line of cars behind Alonso, requiring one eye in the mirror lap after lap, and until the Red Bull of Sergio Perez appeared, none of his challengers could best him.
Concentrating that much on keeping competitors behind while trying to extract the most out of your car is a huge challenge for drivers, but he never put a wheel wrong under immense and continuous pressure to bring home some valuable points.
Lewis Hamilton – P3
I try not to have this list feature three of the top four drivers in the classification, but Hamilton’s drive from seventh on the grid was just too good to ignore. Mercedes were hoping that the Barcelona form that saw them easily the second best team in Spain would return at the fast, flowing Silverstone circuit.
That hope was not realized as not only Ferrari, but also McLaren, bested them in qualifying. They had reason to be hopeful for the Grand Prix though when race pace from Friday’s FP2 session was considered, but still, Lewis showed an intellect in approaching this race that I love to see.
The data showed that a Safety Car was highly likely, as it had been called out in all but one British GP in the last decade. Taking that into consideration he opted to start on mediums – contrary to his soft tyre starting teammate, George Russell, who deserves an honourable mention for making softs last to Lap 28, and having the overtake of the race (see below) – and run as long as possible, hoping to benefit from the statistical odds.
When Kevin Magnussen’s Haas expired on Lap 33, Hamilton’s faith in numbers was rewarded with a Safety Car pit stop. Though he gave it a valiant effort on the restart against Norris on the hard tyres, he came up short, but a podium was a well deserved reward for thinking of the long game and using the strengths of his W14.
Alex Albon – P8
The practice pace of the Williams seemed to surprise the team and drivers as much as anyone watching from the outside, as Albon was third quickest in first and second practice, and second quickest in FP3.
And had qualifying not been quite as complicated with the changing track conditions, we might’ve seen the Williams starting even further up than eighth. That said, Albon recovered beautifully from a rough first stint, where he lost some positions on track, to get himself back up into the points at the chequered flag.
Taking advantage of the Williams’ inherent straight line advantage he made some impressive moves on track, and in the final stint found himself trying to get by Alonso for seventh. The combination of Alonso’s incredible race craft, and the threat from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari immediately behind, meant Albon couldn’t be as aggressive in his offence against the Aston Martin as he would’ve liked.
That said, more points in the bag, as well as Logan Sargeant having his best weekend to date, is a huge help to Williams in the constructors battle, and gave the British crowd something else to cheer this weekend.