WINNERS AND LOSERS – British Grand Prix edition
A fairy tale sixth win on home soil for Lewis Hamilton wasn’t to be, while Max Verstappen came back down to earth after his Austrian heroics. But there was better news for Sebastian Vettel in the title fight, while Nico Hulkenberg emerged as the leading contender for best of the rest. This weekend’s British Grand Prix was a scorcher, with some flowering in the sun while others buckled as the temperatures rose...
Vettel smashes it out of the park
The driver who will have left Silverstone happiest will undoubtedly be Sebastian Vettel. Starting second behind title rival Lewis Hamilton, winner of the last four British Grands Prix, Vettel knew he had his work cut out, particularly after suffering a neck complaint on Saturday.
But the German made the most of a sluggish start from Hamilton to nab the lead, and even when he lost it after Mercedes opted not to pit for fresh tyres during the first Safety Car period, he regained it with a decent pass on Valtteri Bottas at the end of the Wellington Straight.
It was his 51st victory, tying him with Alain Prost for third on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. The German had never previously won on this track layout either.
Vettel now leads Hamilton by eight points in the drivers’ standings, helped by some supreme consistency whereby he’s the only driver to complete every racing lap of the season - and finish every race in the points no less. Not a bad way to round off F1's first triple header, eh?
Ferrari proving title credentials
When Ferrari won the opening two races of the season, there was still an element of doubt as to whether they could sustain a year-long title challenge.
While there is a long way to go, Ferrari proved at Silverstone – a circuit where they have not won at since 2011 – that they have got the stomach for the fight.
Responding to Mercedes’ major aerodynamic update in Austria, Ferrari brought one of their own to Silverstone, and it may well have made the difference.
They head to the German Grand Prix with double the points lead they had after Austria over Mercedes, while both Vettel and Raikkonen drove strong races, the first lap incident aside. What a battle we have in store...
Bumper crowd treated to thriller
The Silverstone crowd may not have got the result the majority of them wanted, but they were at least treated to arguably the most thrilling - and certainly one of the most incident-packed - race of the season, with both cars from the top two teams fighting it out for the win.
The grandstands were packed throughout the weekend, with 340,000 swarming through the gates over the course of the four days. A staggering 140,000 made it on Sunday alone.
It made for a fantastic atmosphere, amid scorching temperatures, with Lewis Hamilton describing the British Grand Prix as “the greatest race of the year” with “the greatest crowd”. That was after he desrcibed it as "the best track in the world" on Friday, likening driving an F1 car around the super quick venue to flying a fighter jet. Anyone else get the sense Lewis likes racing at home?!
Hulkenberg emerges as best of the rest
Nico Hulkenberg was chuffed with his 11th place in qualifying, as it gave him the best position on the grid with free tyre choice. The German opted to start on the medium, before making an unusual move to the hard.
The strategy paid off. First he snuck through the chaos in the opening sequence of corners, then he showed the best pace of the midfield drivers to run comfortably in the top 10.
Sixth was his best result since China. It also matched his finish at Silverstone from last year and continued his good form at the venue, as he has now finished the last five British Grands Prix eighth or higher.
Hulkenberg has also now scored points in four of the last five races, with his Silverstone result strong enough to move him above Fernando Alonso to seventh in the drivers’ standings.
Force India sees double at home race
It’s been a tough start to the season for the boys and girls in pink, but they’ve bounced back with aplomb.
First Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon scored Force India’s double points finish of the year in Austria. Then they followed it up with the same at Silverstone, a venue just over the road from their headquarters.
Ocon didn’t put a foot wrong in Sunday’s race. His racecraft in the latter part of the Grand Prix, particularly in defence of his position from Fernando Alonso, who was on fresher tyres, was solid. His reward was a points haul that moved him above Perez in the drivers’ standings.
Perez had quite some race, too, but for different reasons. After spinning at the start and dropping to the back of the field, the Mexican completed a remarkable comeback drive to snatch a point after Pierre Gasly was penalised.
Ocon and Perez's combined tally also meant the team moved above McLaren into sixth in the constructors’ championship. Further proof things are moving in the right direction for Vijay Mallya's squad.
Hamilton suffers early pain
If you had to pick three races Lewis Hamilton would win ahead of the season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone would be one of your bankers.
The Briton had led 102 of the 103 laps at the last two British Grands Prix and was on a run of four successive victories. When he stuck it on pole, a fifth in a row, and record sixth in total, seemed almost inevitable.
But he was pitched into a spin at the start by Kimi Raikkonen, dropping him to 18th. And while he fought back to second with a brilliant fighting drive (later admitting he lost 3kg in bodyweight in the process), he couldn’t overhaul Vettel.
As a result, he heads to his Ferrari rival’s home race at Hockenheim trailing by eight points. That said, it could have been a lot worse.
Sauber’s run in the points ends
Sauber have consistently punched above their weight this season and arrived on British shores fresh off the back of a double points finish in Austria – but a repeat at Silverstone was not to be.
Charles Leclerc, as we have seen so often this season, got more out of the C37 than many felt was possible as he ran comfortably in the points, having started inside the top 10 once again.
But Sauber let themselves down during his pit stop. Having secured the fastest pit stop three times this season, the Swiss team did not fit one of the wheels properly when the Ferrari protege pitted.
It was too late by the time they realised, with Leclerc pulling off the track into retirement. His team mate Marcus Ericsson then crashed heavily after the DRS stayed open as he negotiated Turn 1.
As a result, Sauber suffered their first double DNF since the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, while Leclerc failed to see the chequered flag for the first time in his, albeit very short, F1 career.
Haas fail to convert pace again
Kevin Magnussen gave Haas their first-ever points at Silverstone but his two points should have been so much more, given they arguably had the fourth-best car on the grid once more.
Magnussen and Romain Grosjean started on the fourth row, but did the unthinkable at the start by making contact as they attempted to avoid Hamilton and Raikkonen’s skirmish.
“We need to go away and evaluate what actually happened at Turn 1 and avoid this for the future,” said Team Principal Guenther Steiner. “This is obviously not acceptable because we keep on losing points while having a good car.”
The American team have hung on to fifth in the constructors’ championship, but they are only two clear of Force India with McLaren a single point further back.
That they have managed to maintain competitiveness this far into the season is impressive, but they need to start converting these opportunities – and fast.
Verstappen’s momentum halted
All weekend at Silverstone, he appeared to be the stronger Red Bull driver. But he consistently bemoaned his team’s deficit on the straights, which he felt ruled them out of competing at the sharp end.
He benefited from the Hamilton-Raikkonen collision to run third at the start, but said he encountered a brake-by-wire issue on the opening lap, which remedied itself before reoccurring and leading to a spin.
The Dutchman was ultimately instructed to retire the car, ending a run of three successive podiums as he failed to see the chequered flag for the third time this season.
Williams hurt on home soil
How did it get to this? Three years ago at Silverstone, Williams became the last team other than Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari to lead a lap of a Grand Prix. Right now, they’re scrapping around at the back.
On Saturday, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin spun in qualifying, with Williams identifying the cause as an underlying aerodynamic issue created by the way the new rear wing interacts with the floor.
They reverted to an old-spec rear wing for the race, which necessitated a pit lane start. Both driver spent most of the race at the back of the pack and had no one to battle but themselves.
“It was a good job by the team and the drivers to get two cars home, but once again, not in the positions that we would like,” said Chief Technical Director Paddy Lowe.
A sad result for a much-loved team on a weekend where Sir Frank made a rare appearance.
Yet more misery for Hartley
What does Brendon Hartley have to do to catch a break? The Kiwi arrived at Silverstone on the back of two retirements in three races. And he’s racking up the engine penalties, too.
Things didn’t improve as F1 crossed the Channel for the British Grand Prix. He suffered a huge high-speed crash in final practice, following suspension failure. That meant he missed qualifying.
He started from the pit lane, but his race lasted just one lap after the team spotted an issue they could not “fully identify”. After the race, Hartley was right to feel aggrieved.
“I’m not a believer in luck or superstition, but I think it’s definitely fair to say that the last few weeks have been unlucky for me. It was all out of my control this weekend.
“It’s disappointing, but I’ll hit the reset button now, take a couple of days to relax and prepare for the next race.”
He remains 19th in the drivers’ standings on one point, 17 adrift of Toro Rosso team mate Pierre Gasly and ahead of only Sergey Sirotkin, who is yet to score.