The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Britain: Vettel Takes Advantage; Lewis In A Spin

17-07-2018

By Jack Target

Sebastian Vettel won a closely fought battle at Silverstone to win the British GP and take an eight point lead in the driver’s championship.

It turned out to be a fantastic weekend for Ferrari as they held on to the constructors championship lead, due to both cars overtaking their Mercedes rivals within the last ten laps. Vettel passed Bottas after a safety car restart before Kimi Raikkonen secured third place with only a few laps to go. 

Lewis Hamilton had got pole on Saturday and was hoping to win his sixth British GP but a poor start and a collision with Raikkonen sent him to the back of the field early on. However a good strategy and his sublime talent, along with help from a couple of safety cars, got the Brit up to a second place finish.

Of course Hamilton had done extremely well to get back to that position but he would have been disappointed after performing so well on Saturday. Lewis broke the track record with an amazing lap that not even the Ferraris could match as they split the Mercedes on the sun drenched Silverstone track (yes that is correct. Sunshine. Not a rain drop in sight this weekend).

Further down both Haas drivers put their cars on top of the ‘best of the rest’ standings just in front of Charles Leclerc. Once again the Sauber driver impressed as he dragged the car round in to the top ten and then gained 9th over Esteban Ocon with a quick lap before time ran out. 

As I mentioned last week Q1 has frequently claimed a big scalp and this week it was Carlos Sainz. It has been a funny old season for the Spaniard since he moved to Renault and he would hope for a better run of form going in to next season. With talk about some movement between drivers at the top, there may be a seat open at Red Bull where he is loaned from. 

So after a fantastic day on Saturday for Lewis, the home crowd (those not in red anyway) were hoping that he would pull away from the start and cruise to victory. However his start was not great and was immediately on the back foot, knowing Vettel was hot on his tail. 

The contact from Raikkonen made things worse and the second place he eventually got would have looked like the stuff of miracles at that point. Kimi was later given a ten second penalty which may have seemed harsh to some, seeing as it looked like the Finn had locked up, but there was probably enough room for both drivers to get through. 

The drama at the front helped the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Leclerc to capitalise. Leclerc was up to 7th with Hulkenberg making the biggest leap of five places in to 6th. The German Renault driver would keep hold of that spot for a good set of points for the team. However luck was not on the side of Leclerc who was looking good for another points finish, only for his car to give up on him as he left the pits around 20 laps in to the race.

Meanwhile Hamilton was predictably up to 10th fairly quickly. To do it in just six laps was pretty impressive though. The incident had now changed how the Brit would take on the race. The Red Bull’s were the first to pit before Vettel and then Bottas changed tyres. Lewis kept the car going for a further five laps, getting the most he possibly could from the old soft tyres before coming in for a set of mediums. 

The strategy highlights would not stop there though as Daniel Ricciardo brought his Red Bull back in to the pits on lap 30 for another set of softs. It may have worked out well for the Aussie but the safety car was deployed two laps later when Marcus Ericsson spun his Sauber into the tyre wall, coming out of a corner with DRS open and losing control of the car. 

As expected the masses of cars headed to the pits but Bottas decided to stay out. He was going to chance it and see if he could last the race distance and take his first victory of the season. 

From the restart there was some great overtaking battles between Kimi and Max Verstappen. The pair were going past one another with some great ducking and weaving that included Max retaking 4th by going round the outside of a corner.

The field would bunch up once again though as Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz made contact and spun off ending both their races. On the team radio Grosjean had said that Sainz had gone in to him but it looked  from replays that the Frenchman locked up slightly and tried to correct it but in doing so oversteered and went in to the passing Sainz. 

That crash had opened up the final points places as Fernando Alonso took advantage, getting McLaren some much needed good news after their difficult few weeks. It also meant Force India had both drivers in the points as they chased the middle pack after an indifferent start to the season.

With ten laps to go the safety car came in once more. Vettel was on the fresher tyres and just bided his time until he could make the move on the Mercedes. Edging closer and closer, the German finally got past and was then off to a comfortable race victory. Just behind there was another Ferrari v Mercedes battle as Raikkonen and Hamilton were keeping up with the top two. Hamilton did go past his teammate pretty quickly before Bottas’ tyres gave up and let Raikkonen grab the final podium place. 

It was the last race in what turned out to be a very interesting triple header of European races. It may not have started well for Ferrari, but it has certainly ended well. Formula 1 now heads to Germany where we could see the German extend his championship lead, or the German team hit back.