What happened at the British Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo dramatically charges from the back to fifth, while some late-race Ferrari tyre drama sees Lewis Hamilton slash Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 4th, finished 2nd.
Hamilton copped some stick before the race when he was the only driver not to show up at a pre-race promotional opportunity in London, but once he got to Silverstone from a brief holiday between the Austrian and British Grands Prix, the three-time champ was all business, winning his home race for a record-equalling fifth time, and a fourth time in succession. Hamilton set up his Sunday with an extraordinary pole lap on Saturday, his 1:26.600 half a second faster than anyone else could manage, and a lap that smashed the previous circuit record by three seconds. He cleared off from the start on Sunday and was untroubled thereafter, and received a late gift when punctures to Ferrari duo Raikkonen and Vettel saw him narrow the latter’s championship lead to a solitary point at the halfway mark of the season. A second 1-2 finish for the season for Mercedes looked unlikely when Bottas copped a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change ahead of qualifying, and even less so when the Finn could qualify just fourth, meaning he began back in ninth. But Bottas started on the more durable soft-compound Pirelli tyre, ran a longer first stint than his rivals, and then inherited second when Raikkonen had his puncture with two laps left. “We got lucky,” he admitted afterwards.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 20th, finished 5th. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, finished 4th.
It seems Verstappen can’t win for losing this year – after the Dutchman finally snapped a run of wretched luck to finish fourth after starting from the same spot thanks to Bottas’ penalty, his teammate Ricciardo stole the show with an astonishing drive from the back of the grid after some of Verstappen’s poor fortune crossed to the Australian’s side of the garage. The chances of Ricciardo extending his run of five straight podiums before Silverstone looked slim when he, like Bottas, was set to drop five grid positions for a gearbox change ahead of qualifying, but worse was to come for the ‘Honey Badger’ when, leading the field in Q1, he ground to a halt with a turbo failure. Ricciardo still felt he could challenge for the top 10 from the very back, and was up to 12th after five laps before running off at Woodcote and dropping to last. No matter; Ricciardo gritted his teeth and went for it, producing several spellbinding passes into Stowe at the end of the Hangar Straight, and tore through the field to fifth to be voted Driver of the Day. Verstappen played a big part in the story of the race when he jumped Vettel – who left the start-line with overheating brakes – on lap one to be third, allowing Raikkonen in second and leader Hamilton to scoot away. The Red Bull didn’t have the raw pace of the Ferrari, but Verstappen’s robust defence of Vettel on more than one occasion saw Ferrari eventually pit the championship leader on lap 18 to undercut Verstappen. Vettel gained track position when Verstappen stopped on the next lap, but the Ferrari man’s earlier stop necessitated a 33-lap run to the end on his final set of tyres, which proved to be too much when he suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap. Verstappen made his own cautionary stop for a tyre change with two laps left to avoid the same fate as the Ferraris, and re-took sixth place in the championship standings from Perez as a result.

Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 3rd, finished 7th. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 2nd, finished 3rd.
It was all looking so good for Ferrari with three laps left, Raikkonen in second, where he’d been since lap one, and Vettel recovering from having his race compromised by Verstappen’s lightning start to be in a strong fourth place and with a decent haul of points in his pocket. Two front-left punctures in the space of a minute ruined all of that, and Raikkonen in particular looked gutted when he faced the press in the post-race interviews for the top three, looking even more than usual like he’d prefer to be anywhere else. The Finn has – justifiably in most cases – been criticised this year for being so far off Vettel’s pace in the sister scarlet car, but was Hamilton’s nearest challenger in qualifying and had a good shot at holding off a charging Bottas late until his tyre cried ‘enough’. Vettel’s own blowout was less fortunate, the German having to limp back to the pits from earlier in the lap than his teammate on the second-last tour, sparks showering the track as the British crowd erupted, realising Vettel’s woes were good news for Hamilton in the title race. There was enough of a gap to the Force India duo of Ocon and Perez to see Vettel slot into seventh after his stop, which was crucial as he was able to retain the championship lead – just – he’s owned since he won in Australia in March.

Force India
Sergio Perez:
qualified 7th, finished 9th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 8th, finished 8th.
Perez was impressed with the cornering speeds able to be achieved by the 2017-generation F1 cars at a circuit that features more sweeping turns than any other. “Of all the tracks we have raced this season, this is probably the one on which I have experienced the biggest difference compared to last year,” he said on Friday. “All the reference points you have built up in the past change.” For the fourth race in a row, the Force India pair were line-astern in qualifying, and for the fourth time in succession, Perez edged Ocon, this time by 0.172secs. They finished together in the race too, but with Ocon in the ascendancy after the Frenchman made a swift start as Perez hesitated when the lights went out. In 10 races this year, Force India has now had eight double-points finishes.

Felipe Massa:
qualified 15th, finished 10th. Lance Stroll: qualified 16th, finished 16th.
Just the one point for Williams at its home Grand Prix, with both cars running a counter tyre strategy to the norm after starting outside the top 10, but only Massa making it work as he snared the final point on offer by beating McLaren’s Vandoorne to the line. After the aerodynamic updates Williams brought to the previous race in Austria left it struggling on the penultimate row of the grid in qualifying, the team split strategies for its two cars at Silverstone, Massa and Stroll each running a mix of old and new parts – but not in the same configuration – as the team scrambled to acquire data. Massa had been inside the top 10 in all three practice sessions, so was very disappointed to only qualify 15th, while Stroll, with precious little F1 experience in wet conditions, struggled in qualifying and fared little better in the race, labouring with aero problems to the flag.

Fernando Alonso:
qualified 13th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 9th, finished 11th.
Alonso gave McLaren a rare reason to smile when he fitted dry-weather tyres on a track damp with rain right at the death of Q1 and executed a white-knuckle lap that had him in P1. “Even if it’s just for one moment, to be up there at the top of the timesheets feels good,” he said. That was as good as it got for the Spaniard; Alonso changed multiple engine components in his McLaren on Friday and was hit with 30 grid places worth of penalties, meaning he was condemned to starting from the back of the grid. He latched onto Ricciardo’s tail and came through the pack, though not to the same extent, early on before retiring with a loss of power on lap 34. Vandoorne beat Alonso in qualifying for the first time this season and made the top 10 for the first time to start a career-best eighth after Bottas’ gearbox penalty, but couldn’t capitalise on his best chance of scoring a first point for the season when he finished just behind Massa in what was his most competitive showing of the year to date.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 12th, finished 15th. Carlos Sainz: qualified 14th, did not finish.
To put it mildly, the first 60 seconds at Silverstone didn’t go well for Toro Rosso, with Kvyat and Sainz banging wheels entering the super-fast Maggots-Becketts sequence on the opening lap, Kvyat spearing off the track, and then coming back onto it and clattering into Sainz, ending the Spaniard’s race. “Tell Dany he did a very good job there,” Sainz sighed, while Kvyat – “he just turned into me” – made it very clear he felt the incident was his teammate’s doing. The stewards disagreed, and a week after being penalised for causing the shunt that eliminated Alonso and Verstappen in Austria, the Russian was hit with another drive-through penalty, and toured around with a damaged floor to finish 15th. Kvyat said before the race he wanted a decision on his future to be made as soon as possible, but with just one points finish from the past nine races and having managed just four points (to Sainz’s 29) so far this season, he might want some more time to make up for a messy last seven days.

Romain Grosjean:
qualified 10th, finished 13th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 17th, finished 12th.
Haas will have to wait until Hungary in a fortnight’s time to try to top the 29 points it scored in its maiden world championship season in 2016, after Grosjean and Magnussen couldn’t take advantage of favourable track positions on Sunday. Grosjean was furious with Hamilton on Saturday after qualifying 10th, feeling he could have leapfrogged Vandoorne’s McLaren for ninth had he not – in his words – been “completely blocked” by the pole-sitter at the last corner. Hamilton apologised for getting in Grosjean’s way and said it was inadvertent, and the stewards agreed, issuing no penalty to the Mercedes driver. Grosjean’s mood wasn’t improved by the verdict, saying Hamilton had been let off because of his place in the championship standings. “Maybe if it was another driver, there would have been something,” he mused. The Frenchman finished just 13th on Sunday, while Magnussen, way down on the grid, tried to play the long game by running his initial set of soft tyres all the way to lap 37, but couldn’t regain his spot in the top 10 afterwards and finished just ahead of his teammate.

Jolyon Palmer:
qualified 11th, did not start. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 6th, finished 6th.
Hulkenberg felt the cornering speeds of the 2017-spec F1 cars at Silverstone were “a little bit insane,” adding that they were “cool, and bloody fast.” The German could have been talking about his own form at the British GP, as he took Renault’s best qualifying and finish of the season, narrowly missing out on fifth as he tried to hold off Ricciardo’s charging Red Bull late before falling behind the Australian on the penultimate lap. With Vandoorne edging Alonso in qualifying, Hulkenberg is now the only driver on the grid to have an unbeaten record on Saturdays against his teammate. Speaking of said teammate, Palmer was stiff to miss the top 10 in qualifying by less than a tenth of a second, and unluckier still when hydraulics failure saw his car coast to a halt on the warm-up lap, the under-pressure Briton not even able to start his home Grand Prix as rumours swirl that he could be replaced sooner rather than later. Hulkenberg has scored all 26 of Renault’s points this season.

Marcus Ericsson:
qualified 19th, finished 14th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 18th, finished 17th.
There were plenty of moves off track for Sauber at Silverstone, with the Swiss squad appointing former Renault boss Frederic Vasseur as team principal after the sudden departure of Monisha Kaltenborn before Azerbaijan following a disagreement with ownership. Vasseur took the reins with increasing doubt over the Honda engine supply arrangement brokered by Kaltenborn before she left, with Sauber’s owners considering a deal for a customer Ferrari or Mercedes engine that would be more competitive in the short-term rather than a factory deal with Honda, given McLaren’s seemingly never-ending struggles with the Japanese company’s powerplant. The Sauber stablemates started only ahead of the penalised Ricciardo and Alonso, and Ericsson finished the better of the two when Wehrlein tried to make his final set of soft tyres last the majority of the race after pitting twice under the safety car caused by the Kvyat/Sainz shunt.


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