British Grand Prix

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.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
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.

Ferrari
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.

Williams
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.

McLaren
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.

Haas
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.

Renault
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.

Sauber
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.

Front to back: the British Grand Prix

Reviewing every F1 team and driver from Sunday’s race at Silverstone.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 1st, finished 1st
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 3rd
An exemplary performance from home hero Hamilton, who took his third British GP win in succession, his fourth home win overall, and his fourth victory in the past five Grands Prix to narrow the gap to teammate and championship leader Rosberg to a single point, the closest the Mercedes pair have been all season. The reigning world champion had few scares of note save for a leery off at the treacherous first corner on lap 28, but that was as bad as it got as he sent the majority of the 139,000 fans in attendance home happy. For Rosberg, this was no ordinary third place – in stark contrast to his teammate, the German’s afternoon was a struggle as early as lap nine, where he’d already fallen to five seconds behind Hamilton and relinquished any chance of a win as he slithered around in the wet conditions. Verstappen made an audacious move on Rosberg into Chapel Curve on lap 16 stick, and it took Rosberg until lap 38 to restore order in a plainly faster car, albeit one that was struggling with gearbox gremlins late. After the race, Rosberg had a 10-second penalty added to his time for breaching F1’s radio rules regulations on driving “the car alone and unaided” after he asked his team how to combat losing seventh gear, which dropped him to third behind Verstappen and cost him three precious points.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 6th, finished 9th
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 5th, finished 5th
Ferrari can forget challenging Mercedes for the constructors’ championship; that was the big takeaway from an underwhelming Sunday at Silverstone that saw the pre-season title challengers fall to 131 points behind the Silver Arrows, and stay just six points ahead of the stampeding Red Bulls. Another five-place gearbox penalty for Vettel, his second in as many races, saw the German start from 11th, and after he was the first driver to be brave and fit dry-weather tyres on a semi-wet track on lap 16 in an attempt to vault up the order, Vettel spun just two laps into his stint and ruined any chance of a decent points haul. A five-second penalty applied after the race for forcing the Williams of Massa off the track when he passed the Brazilian veteran was the full stop on a bad day that saw him drop to fifth in the drivers’ standings. Raikkonen’s biggest win for the weekend came off track, the 36-year-old signing a contract extension with Ferrari that was surely based on continuity rather than performance. The Finn had a messy qualifying with a spin and lock-up but still out-qualified Vettel, and started and finished in the same spot, a whopping 69 seconds behind race-winner Hamilton.

Front to back: what happened in Austria?

Williams
Felipe Massa:
qualified 12th, finished 11th
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 7th, finished 14th
A desperately unhappy race for Williams in its home Grand Prix, the much-loved British team failing to get either car into the points for the first time this season. Bottas felt he “got everything out of the car” in qualifying, which was a bit of a worry as he was 2.270secs off the pace and seventh, and he spun on lap 11 from eighth place and never figured in the points conversation thereafter. Massa didn’t even make Q3 on Saturday and complained of rear tyre issues, and while a final stop on lap 39 for the faster soft-compound Pirellis threatened to drag him into the top 10, the Brazilian just missed out.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 4th, finished 4th
Max Verstappen: qualified 3rd, finished 2nd
Verstappen took his third podium in six races at Red Bull and his second in seven days with arguably the drive of the day at Silverstone, and his pass on Rosberg to take second place will go down as one of the moves of the season. The Dutch teenager’s tyre management and ability in semi-wet conditions was a standout, and he did all he could to resist the much faster Rosberg for as long as he could late in the race, earning some criticism from the German for his robust defence. In the wash-up, Rosberg’s belated penalty promoted him to second again. Verstappen’s weekend really came alive 24 hours earlier, when he qualified a career-best third and broke Ricciardo’s unblemished record on Saturdays with his teammates this season. The Australian was a frustrated fourth for the fifth time this season and over 15 seconds behind Verstappen at the finish after a lonely race; he pitted for tyres at the end of the first flying lap of the race on lap six, but any chance of an undercut on Verstappen and the Mercedes drivers was scuppered by the top three getting a pit stop in under virtual safety car conditions a lap later when Wehrlein’s Manor spun out of the race. The one bit of good news for Ricciardo was that he jumped one spot in the drivers’ championship to – you guessed it – fourth overall.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 9th, finished 7th
Sergio Perez: qualified 11th, finished 6th
Perez was once again the Force India driver who came out smelling like roses, taking advantage of a well-timed decision to pit under virtual safety car conditions to jump Ricciardo into fourth and stay ahead of the Australian for 13 laps in treacherous conditions that rewarded his renowned tyre management skills. Raikkonen in his much faster Ferrari finally passed Perez with four laps to go, but sixth was a strong return after a qualifying session that didn’t go to plan on Saturday. Hulkenberg was 0.7 seconds in arrears of his teammate after 52 laps, using the same wet-intermediate-medium tyre strategy as the Mexican, but being caught out by pitting as soon as the race was released from its safety car start, the chaos in the pit lane making a routine stop take longer than normal. A haul of 14 points, combined with Williams’ disastrous day, saw Vijay Mallya’s team creep to within 19 points of taking over fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 18th, did not finish
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 16th, finished 17th
A difficult Sunday in a season of difficult Sundays for everyone at Team Enstone. Palmer failed to advance out of Q1 for the third straight race at his home circuit, and what slim hope he had of progressing too far in the race ended on lap 17, when he was released from his pit stop with no right rear wheel attached, condemning him to an extra stop for a 10-second penalty. He eventually retired on lap 40 with cooked brakes after ranting about the blue flags he was receiving for being lapped. Magnussen’s Saturday was similarly fraught – the Dane survived an investigation for exceeding track limits in Q1 to make it to Q2 and was fortunate to escape a penalty for getting in Kvyat’s way late in the session – and he was the 17th and final car classified as Renault’s struggles continue.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 15th, finished 10th
Carlos Sainz: qualified 8th, finished 8th
Times have been tough for Toro Rosso of late, so a fourth double-points finish of the season was gratefully received by Red Bull’s sister squad. Kvyat broke a four-race points-scoring drought by coming home 10th and doing well to advance from 15th on the grid, finishing in the points at Silverstone for the third time in as many visits. Sainz had a few sideways moments that evoked memories of his legendary rally-driving dad Carlos Snr in the wet, but held off Vettel late to finish eighth. His qualifying lap late in Q2 on Saturday to sneak into the top 10 at Perez’s expense was a mighty effort, while Sunday’s four points saw him draw level with Hulkenberg for 11th in the drivers’ standings.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr:
qualified 21st, finished 15th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 22nd, did not finish
Nasr briefly ran in the top six as he stayed out on wet tyres while many of his rivals pitted once the race got underway properly on lap six, but tumbled down the order thereafter to stay pointless for the season. The Brazilian’s weekend was a lot more straightforward than Ericsson’s, the Swede missing qualifying altogether after a massive shunt at Stowe in FP3 which saw him taken to hospital for checks and a CT scan. The cash-strapped team rebuilt Ericsson’s chassis overnight, but he struggled with engine problems from the outset after starting from the pit lane, calling it a day after 11 laps.

McLaren
Jenson Button:
qualified 17th, finished 12th
Fernando Alonso: qualified 10th, finished 13th
Another British team to have a disappointing weekend at home, with Button’s barren run at Silverstone continuing for another frustrating year. The Briton had the rear wing endplate on his car come loose in qualifying, and despite frantic repairs, he was left in the garage in 17th and out. Button finished ahead of Alonso largely due to the latter’s spectacular high-speed spin at Turn 1 on lap 24, the Spaniard’s McLaren rotating three times before lightly nudging the barriers in an incident that could have been far worse. Alonso was less than happy during the race with what he felt were unnecessarily conservative calls on strategy from a team with little to lose, but he was more positive afterwards, commenting that Sunday was the first race he’d felt competitive, especially in the wet-dry conditions in the first half of the Grand Prix.

Manor
Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 20th, did not finish
Rio Haryanto: qualified 19th, did not finish
A harsh dose of reality for Manor after the highs of Austria seven days’ previously, with Wehrlein aquaplaning off the circuit on lap seven at Turn 1 and triggering a virtual safety car, and Haryanto going off at the same corner on lap 26 and finding the barriers. It was the first time neither Manor had seen the chequered flag since the Canadian Grand Prix of 2014, a span of 36 races.

Haas
Romain Grosjean:
qualified 13th, did not finish
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 14th, finished 16th
A quiet first British Grand Prix for the sport’s newest team, with Grosjean retiring on lap 18, and Gutierrez finishing ahead of only Magnussen after feeling points were in play after their Q2 exits on Saturday. “Everything was open and I would have loved to get some more laps on such an amazing track,” was Grosjean’s lament afterwards.

Who’ll rule Britannia?

The five key talking points ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Formula One heads back to where it all began as Silverstone hosts the British Grand Prix this weekend, and as the final Grand Prix in a stretch of four races in five weekends, there’s plenty of momentum – good and bad – being taken into the blast around the signature sweeps of the former World War II airfield this Sunday. What are the key talking points ahead of round 10 of the season? These.

1. Toto’s tough call
There’s an argument that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has been the most important person in F1 for the past three years. Why? Consider this stat: Mercedes has won 40 of 47 races since F1 moved into the 1.6-litre turbo hybrid era in 2014, but the team has continually let its drivers race one another – often to its detriment – over that time. It’s a period of domination that reprises memories of Ferrari in the early 2000s – and the sound of Lewis Hamilton being booed on the podium in Austria last weekend, the same podium where Michael Schumacher and the Scuderia were jeered for manipulating the result of the 2002 race at the same circuit by demanding Rubens Barrichello to move over for his team leader – showed just how things could have been if Wolff and Mercedes had elected to employ an all eggs in one basket approach with one of its drivers. There have been flashpoints before 2016, most notably Belgium 2014, but in the last five races, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have taken one another out on lap one in Spain, clashed at the first corner in Canada, and then tripped over one another on the final lap in Austria, causing Wolff to angrily bang his fist on the table in the Mercedes garage as a sure-fire 1-2 very nearly became a double DNF. Does Wolff decide that some sort of team orders have become necessary to stop a repeat of the last few races? Or will the voices of the fans – and, amongst others, Bernie Ecclestone – drown out any conversations among the Mercedes’ brass to potentially call off the fight? Should Hamilton and Rosberg come together again at Silverstone in a highly-charged atmosphere at Hamilton’s home race and just seven days after the Austrian argy-bargy, Wolff and Mercedes’ management may have no choice.

2. Who has home-ground advantage?
Hamilton will get more cheers at Silverstone than anyone, particularly after the less-than-positive crowd reaction to his win last weekend, but the jet-setting three-time champ hasn’t lived in the UK for years. Jenson Button (more on him later) will get plenty of applause, and Jolyon Palmer some home cheering that’ll soothe some of the pain of his underwhelming start to F1. But it’s arguably Force India (its factory is 1.1km away from the Silverstone circuit) who can really lay claim to home-ground advantage, and even after its pointless Austria disaster, Vijay Mallya’s team crosses the road to Silverstone in a comfortable fifth place in the constructors’ standings, and looking more legitimate than ever after Sergio Perez’s podiums in Monaco and Baku, and Nico Hulkenberg’s front-row start last weekend. Williams (with 92 points to Force India’s 59) isn’t far up the road, and Perez in particular has looked so assured this season that he’s been spoken of as a potential Ferrari driver if the Prancing Horse bites the bullet and doesn’t re-sign Kimi Raikkonen, a turn of events few would have seen coming after his ill-fated dalliance with McLaren in 2013. Beneath the headlines, Force India has had a very solid year indeed.

3. Ricciardo’s Sunday drive
Buried in the avalanche of statistics that goes with any Formula One season is a revelation that might want to make Daniel Ricciardo fans avert their eyes; in nine races this year, the Australian has finished ahead of where he’s started just once, the season-opener at Albert Park. It’s a stat that comes with an asterisk – he could have won in Spain from third on the grid after being committed to what was, in hindsight, the wrong strategy to finish fourth, and absolutely should have won at Monaco from second at the start – but his penchant for brilliant Saturdays followed by Sundays that don’t quite hit those heights is becoming an unwanted trend. He knows it, too. “We’re looking into it,” Ricciardo says. “We’re trying to work out if we are focusing too much on Saturdays and not looking ahead enough at the Sunday – I don’t think that’s the case, but with the way Formula One is now, especially with the tyres, you can just be a little bit out with the set-up and that can change the races.” Ricciardo has routinely been mesmerising in qualifying this season and is the only driver yet to be beaten by his teammate on Saturdays, but making that count when the points are handed out will be a priority from Silverstone onwards. As it stands, he’s only eight points away from being in third place in the drivers’ standings, the unofficial ‘best of the rest’ tag behind the Mercedes drivers that he made his own in 2014.

4. Waiting for Ferrari
In the pre-season, plenty of experts had the 2016 title race as a two-way fight between Mercedes and a resurgent Ferrari, and when it appeared only a conservative tyre strategy scuppered Sebastian Vettel’s quest to win the season-opener in Melbourne, those predictions looked on the mark. But as we approach the near-halfway point of the season at Silverstone, Ferrari is yet to win this season, and has already fallen 100-plus points behind the Silver Arrows in the constructors’ race. With four races in five weekends in July, it’s now or never for the Scuderia. Last weekend in Austria saw Vettel retire from the lead in spectacular fashion when his right-rear tyre exploded on the start-finish straight, while teammate Raikkonen inherited a podium on the final lap thanks to the Rosberg-Hamilton stoush after what appeared to be another tactical mistake by the team, pitting the Finn to cover off race-leader Hamilton, but releasing him behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Ricciardo, the former of whom he never managed to pass. Both drivers have 96 points after the first nine races, and Vettel’s title hopes may have already been dashed by moments outside of his control – a blown engine in Bahrain on the warm-up lap, getting taken out by Daniil Kvyat in Russia, and last weekend’s sudden end to a race where a podium at the very least looked nailed-on. The team has already used all but three of its 32 engine development tokens permitted for the year – by contrast, Honda (12 remaining), Mercedes (11) and Renault (a whopping 21) have development potential in spades. Halfway through a season where a title tilt was expected, is it time for Ferrari to swallow its pride and switch focus to 2017, and make the most of the sweeping rule changes that could give the sport a reset, something Mercedes took full advantage of when the rulebook was last ripped up three years ago? Where Ferrari stands at the end of a hectic July will reveal much.

5. Button’s Silverstone swansong?
A month ago, you would have got good odds on the British veteran soaking up the adulation from his home fans one final time before being ushered into retirement at the end of the season; now, it seems ‘JB’ might stick around next year after all. If he does, it’s unlikely to be with McLaren given Stoffel Vandoorne is very patiently waiting in the wings, but reports out of Europe are linking Button with a full circle return to Williams, where he spent the first season of his career in 2000. Reading between the lines, Felipe Massa’s comments this week that money won’t be a factor in his plans for 2017 suggests he may need to take a financial hit to stay at Williams for a fourth season next year, and intimates Williams has other options. That’s all for the future, but for Button, arresting his wretched record at Silverstone will be a more immediate focus this weekend. For all his success elsewhere, Button has never cracked it for a single podium at home – even in 2009, his championship season, Button came to his home GP having won six of the first seven races of the year, but could only finish sixth. He’ll be at very long odds to get on the podium this weekend unless the weather (insert your own jokes about the ‘English summer’ here) plays a part. But last weekend in Austria, where he qualified a superb fifth in changeable conditions, ran second in the early laps and eventually finished sixth, well ahead of where a McLaren should be on merit, was a timely reminder of Button’s quality.