Halfway point of the season reached, and a race that, whilst not hugely exciting, delivers a pivotal shift in the world championship fight. That’s the short summary of the British Grand Prix. The long version? Well, if you’re a Lewis Hamilton fan the weekend was near perfect. In qualifying Hamilton put in a stonking lap to secure pole, finishing up some half a second quicker than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. It was the start of a dominant weekend for Hamilton, and ultimately Mercedes, though it didn’t start out that way. Valtteri Bottas received a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change (the same issue that afflicted Hamilton a week earlier), and by being out qualified by both Ferraris, would therefore start ninth. 

Q1 threw up variable weather conditions that allowed a very rare sight – the McLaren of Fernando Alonso finishing top of the charts. A 30-place penalty (what a joke) for replacing several parts always meant Alonso would start at the back of the field, but his effort was a timely reminder of his talent. Meanwhile, penalties also meant the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo would join Alonso on the back row. The main permutation, as far as the title battle was concerned, was that Hamilton started on pole and Raikkonen had pipped Sebastian Vettel to second. Would Ferrari swap their men around early on? They wouldn’t get the chance.

Hamilton got a clean start and so did Raikkonen, but Max Verstappen got his Red Bull away very strongly, going side-by-side with Vettel around the first couple of corners and muscling into third. Hamilton and Raikkonen pulled away from Verstappen whilst Vettel couldn’t find a way past. With Bottas moving up the order, there was a very real threat of Vettel being caught, but aggressive defending from Verstappen (something of a trademark of his) kept Vettel at bay. 

Further back, a first lap incident involving the Toro Rosso pair of Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz ended with Sainz being dumped out of the race. The two had been jockeying for position and Kvyat ran wide, rejoining the track by bumping into Sainz. Kvyat (whose career is in the balance) kept going but damage plus a penalty meant he would retire early. There was also disappointment for Joylen Palmer – his Renault failed on the warm-up lap, ending his race before it even began. 

Beyond that it was a straightforward race for the most part – Vettel managed the undercut on Verstappen to move into third and Bottas would also end up getting ahead of the Dutchman by the time Bottas finally stopped (being on an inverted strategy of soft to supersoft). Bottas would catch and pass Vettel in fairly short order once he’d stopped, and then for the final few laps he would chase after Raikkonen.

Before getting to the finale (which is where the ‘pivotal’ nature of the race comes in), a word on a few other proceedings. Ricciardo successfully scythed his way up the order, demonstrating his enjoyment of the fight along the way. He would ultimately rise to fifth place, and earned himself the title of driver of the day for his efforts. Nico Hulkenberg gave another highly credible performance to take sixth, whilst Force India got both cars into the points, with Ocon eighth and Perez ninth. After a poor performance from Williams in qualifying, Felipe Massa fought back to finish 10th. Meanwhile, Stoffel Vandoorne, who had actually qualified in the top ten for McLaren, just missed out on the points.

So the finale – with Bottas chasing down Raikkonen but rapidly running out of time, fate would smile down upon the Silver Arrow in the form of a tyre failure for Raikkonen- his front-left tyre started to peel away, forcing Kimi to pit, which allowed Vettel into third – damage limitation on the points lost to Hamilton, or so it seemed. The problem was, with the cars on the penultimate lap, Vettel would suffer the same problem! Having also been forced to pit, Vettel would drop to seventh, with the consequence of his championship lead being cut from 20 points to just one. All of a sudden, the title fight is in the balance, and Bottas is only 23 points (less than a win) behind as well. The destiny of the 2017 title hasn’t been decided, but Ferrari will be hoping the nature of the next race in Hungary will better suit them, and will want to use the summer break to make whatever improvements they can. Mercedes have upped their game, with Hamilton winning at Silverstone for the fifth time (equalling Jim Clark and Alain Prost), and also his fourth in a row here. 

Hamilton got pole, led every lap, and I believe he also took the fastest lap on his way to victory. The dominant nature of the win will alarm Ferrari. They need to bounce back, and quickly.

Against the backdrop of Silverstone’s owners saying ‘no’ to extending the British Grand Prix past 2019, comes the halfway point of the 2017 season. The short version of the contract issues surrounding this event is that costs are rising and the venue can no longer afford these costs, so it is cutting short its contract. The other previous venues to host F1 races in the UK (Brands Hatch and Donnington) are not currently in a position to take over, so a few ideas are being mooted, such as having the event in London. At this point, nothing is certain.

Nothing is certain in the championship either. Valtteri Bottas won in Austria last time around to arguably put himself into contention for the title, whilst his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton will be desperate to re-assert himself, after seeing one likely win in Baku slip through his grasp, and taking a penalty last time around. He is 20 points behind lead Ferrari man Sebastian Vettel, hardly insurmountable, but he will want to start putting wins on the board to apply some pressure to the championship leader.

If recent years are anything to go by, Silverstone is the perfect place for him to begin that run. He won here in a rain-soaked event in 2008, and has won here in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (every year of the hybrid turbo era). He appears to relish the superfast sequence that is Maggots and Becketts (turns 10-14), a part of track that every driver has nothing but praise for. It has been suggested that Stowe (turn 15) will be flat-out this year, which should make for a pretty dramatic spectacle. Hamilton would settle for a boring race, one where he leads from the start to finish.

The venue named after a modern F1 success story has, ironically, not proven to be a successful track for Red Bull Racing – would that be changing here?

Not if the qualifying story would bear out in the race. As is more or less normal, it was a front four comprising of the Mercedes’ and Ferraris – though Lewis Hamilton would not in fact start in third – an unauthorised gearbox change meant a five-place grid penalty – he would start eighth. His teammate Valtteri Bottas took his second career pole, fending off Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen would slot the second Ferrari into third, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen putting the Red Bulls fourth and fifth respectively.

Also between Hamilton and the leaders would be the Haas of Romain Grosjean, who was impressive in qualifying, and the Force India of Sergio Perez. Up until qualifying Force India had looked out of sorts, yet managed to get both Perez and Esteban Ocon into Q3. Ocon would start ninth, with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz (who had his wings clipped a little by Red Bull bosses for expressing a desire to move on earlier in the week) completing the top ten.

There was considerably less joy for Williams. After Lance Stroll’s excellent showing to snatch third in Baku, an upgrade to the car on a circuit that would surely benefit from the powerful Mercedes engine proved anti-climatic. Stroll was 18th and Felipe Massa 17th – a dismal performance.

The main sideshow though, was about the fallout from Hamilton and Vettel’s contentious collision in Baku. Did the two men now hate each other? Hamilton had made it clear he felt Vettel’s punishment was too lenient – and refused to shake Vettel’s hand when asked to by a reporter. Christian Horner, the boss of Red Bull, who had been Vettel’s boss for several years, was on record as saying he believed the pair now hated each other. Would this intensifying rivalry provide extra spice going into the race?

As for the race itself – I haven’t seen it. I was working, plus couldn’t get my tablet set up, so I haven’t seen one tiny bit of footage. From what I can gather, the race was pretty uneventful – a minor controversy over whether or not Bottas jumped the start (according to the FIA, he didn’t), and a first-lap accident that put Verstappen and Fernando Alonso out. Aside from that, Hamilton was able to rise to fourth place, whilst Bottas held off Vettel to claim his second career win. The results mean Vettel now leads Hamilton by 20 points, with Bottas a further 15 points back.

Bottas a Contender?

Valtteri was largely expected to play second fiddle to Hamilton but a few moments of bad luck and a few off-days for Lewis, plus a couple of wobbles from Vettel, have brought the Finn firmly into play. If he were to get a couple more wins, with Hamilton and Vettel tripping over each other, and there would be no doubting Bottas as a serious title challenger. It remains to be seen as to whether he can put such a run together – we shall find out, starting with Silverstone on Sunday.

It’s been a couple of weeks of mild controversy in F1. Following their contentious collision in Baku, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have made up, whilst the FIA reviewed the incident and decided no further action was needed, a meek decision to some. Next up is Austria.

The circuit here is a relatively short one – a simplistic-looking lap around the Red Bull Ring. Although the venue is the spiritual home of the Red Bull team, the nature of the track means they are unlikely to win here – the track is distinguished by various fast sections, with sector one featuring only one corner, and a DRS zone, whilst sectors two and three feature very few meaty corners, and several that can be hit at a reasonable speed. In short, Mercedes should go well here, and Ferrari, in theory, won’t be far behind – though FP1 threw up the possibility that Mercedes have edged ahead in the development of their car. Then again, there were signs of that in Baku, yet during the race Ferrari kept pace with Mercedes, so rule nothing out. Lewis Hamilton comes into this race 14 points behind his rival Vettel, hardly a big gap, but one he’ll want to start to closing. He could at the very least halve it (if he wins and Vettel is second, for example), but 2017 has offered up quite a few surprises already, so there can’t be any assumptions.

So, what are the key features of the track? Expect overtaking moves into turn 1 (which is at the end of a DRS zone), or at the very least expect attempts into turn 2 and turn 3 (which is also at the end of a DRS zone). Beyond that, it will likely be hard to get close enough anywhere else, with the fast cars and fast corners making closing right in more or less impossible. The tyres on offer are the faster ones, so we might see one or two-stop strategies, depending on who wants to risk what. Hopefully, we shall have great entertainment come race day!

For the second time Formula 1 cars will navigate the contrasting city of Baku, which last year hosted the European Grand Prix, and this year hosts the first Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Modern buildings exist alongside ancient castles and F1 cars will race down long, wide roads and snake between the relics of the ancient world, where the track contracts sharply. It will provide an interesting test.


This circuit is one of Formula 1’s rare counter-clockwise venues, featuring three 90-degree left-handers in a row. The long stretch from turn 19, through the gentle curve that is turn 20 and the main straight, is a prime location for Mercedes and Ferrari to show just how much better their engines are than anyone else’s, and the run to turn 1 will be a prime overtaking opportunity. Turn 3 might also be a chance; beyond that, the way the track tightens as it winds through old streets will make it a challenge for anyone to make a move, especially with the wider cars of this year. The squiggly sequence that is turns 8-12 gives way to a series of increasingly sharp left corners, and then there’s only a handful of curves before hitting the fastest section of the track.

Last year Nico Rosberg won with ease here, whilst Lewis Hamilton put his car into the wall during qualifying to effectively end his chances of victory before a wheel had turned in anger. Baku will be unforgiving, and even more so given the wider cars and higher speeds. Much of the track is surrounded by barriers and they will ruin tyres and bodywork if contact is made, so precision driving is the key.

Given the nigh-impossible to predict nature of the season so far, it’s too close to call as to whether we’ll see a Ferrari or Mercedes victory. A lot of people thought Mercedes would struggle in Canada, yet they managed to make the ultra-soft tyres (one of the compounds on offer this weekend) work pretty well. On the other hand, the strong overall nature of Ferrari’s design might serve them well in the messy middle sector. We shall find out.

Round 7 of the 2017 season is done and dusted, with one pretty strong comeback, one easy win, and a team that cost itself points. Oh yeah, and Fernando Alonso was back in an F1 car following his Indy adventure. Was it a good race? Yeah, reasonably so. Did it have some interesting subplots? Yep. So, where to begin?

If you’re Max Verstappen you’ll be quite annoyed. A great start launched him from fifth to second into the first couple of corners, and he was managing to avoid Valtteri Bottas’ clutches, until lap ten, when his car failed, forcing to suffer yet another retirement. Verstappen had a major impact on Sebastian Vettel’s race too – he ran over the Ferrari’s front wing at the start, and this ended Vettel’s hopes of challenging for victory.

Behind the leaders was first-lap carnage. Carlos Sainz cut across the front of Romain Grosjean’s Haas as they came out of the first couple of bends, and spun, his Toro Rosso sliding sideways across the track and wiping out the Williams of Felipe Massa. Grosjean was able to continue but Sainz and Massa? They enjoyed an early shower. The safety car came out for a few laps, but Ferrari didn’t pit Vettel until lap 5, after the safety car had come in. Their strategy became aggressive – Vettel was given super-soft tyres and set off catching and passing others with relative ease, whilst Hamilton and Bottas cruised off into the distance. Daniel Ricciardo moved up to third for Red Bull, with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen slipping up and nearly smacking the wall early on, something that provided impetus for the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon to move into fourth and fifth.

The Mercedes-powered Force Indias would start to close in on Ricciardo, especially after the single pit stops that most cars favoured. Perez would lurk on Ricciardo’s tail for some time, but would also impede the faster Ocon – something that would come back to hurt them both later on. Meanwhile, Vettel was on a charge, but would have to make a second stop to put on fresh rubber. The order of business became damage limitation, though he was aided in this cause when Kimi Raikkonen ran wide at the final chicane, letting Vettel up into sixth. With Perez refusing to let Ocon by to attack Ricciardo, and with Ocon making a nuisance of himself to get by his teammate, Vettel would catch the warring Force Indias with a handful of laps remaining.

Before long, he was by them both. What started as a real possibility of a podium for a Force India driver ended with posts lost, and it would seem Perez has to be the one held responsible. He ignored team instructions, and as a result, the team lost points. In this game, that could make all the difference come the end of the season. Likewise, the extra points gained for Vettel might prove crucial. He is now 12 points ahead of Hamilton, having dropped 13 points to his title rival, but might have lost 17 points and sit only 8 points clear. That could make all the difference later on.

The race saw a first for 2017 – a one-two finish for Mercedes. Hamilton saw out a comfortable win that included pole position and the fastest lap of the race, whilst Bottas was never troubled by Ricciardo. Mercedes regained the lead in the constructor’s championship too – Raikkonen had brake issues at one stage and could finish no higher than seventh. Elsewhere, Williams driver Lance Stroll scored his first F1 points, with ninth, and did so in front of his home crowd too. Nico Hulkenberg continued his fine form with eighth for Renault, and Grosjean took a point for Haas. In a not-so-surprising twist, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren failed him with two laps remaining, robbing him of a points finish. Alonso leaped from his car and ran into the crowd, to their great delight, but elsewhere, Alonso has been issuing warnings that he might quit McLaren if things don’t improve, and he is out of contract at the end of the year, whilst McLaren themselves are deeply concerned at how ‘lost’ Honda look, and are rumoured to be looking at returning to Mercedes power. The weekend will have done nothing to help Honda’s image.

Finally, Sir Patrick Stewart lent his distinctive booming voice to the podium interviews, and even indulged in Ricciardo’s famous ‘shoey’ (that is, he drank champagne from his shoe). It was a weird and wonderful way to conclude a race that saw one dominant performance, one fight-back, inter-team issues and an expected McLaren retirement. Next up is Baku.


Welcome to one of F1’s best-loved venues. The Canadian Grand Prix is held in spectacular scenery and the atmosphere tends to be one of the most exciting, whilst the high-speed track with several fast, slippery corners usually makes for some dramatic and exciting racing. The track, named after the late, great, Giles Villeneuve, should provide some good action this weekend.

For two drivers on the grid, this track holds particular importance. Lewis Hamilton took his first F1 win here ten years ago, and Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first F1 victory here in 2014. It seems highly unlikely Ricciardo will repeat that feat on Sunday – the Red Bull just doesn’t have the engine power to live with the Mercedes’ or Ferraris, and given the low-grip nature of the circuit, and the ultra-soft tyres on use, Hamilton might struggle as well. Mercedes have not excelled on the ultra-softs this season, so things point toward another Ferrari win here.

Still, the high-speed nature of this venue might give Mercedes a slight edge. The long Casino Straight and the start/finish straight are very much about power, and there are long, gentle curves that will also test the engine grunt. Where Ferrari hold the advantage is in the sharper curves – turns 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and the final chicane that is 12 and 13, are areas where I would expect the Ferraris, especially on the ultra-softs, to be stronger.

One thing that might go in Hamilton’s favour is how much he enjoys this track. He has won five times in Canada, including the last two times out, so he has a good understanding of what it takes to do well here. It remains to be seen if he can overcome the issues that have hampered Mercedes so far this season.

Nothing screams prestige and glamour quite like Monaco, and nothing manages to be both exciting and processional as the Monaco Grand Prix, that sees twenty cars hurtle at high speeds down narrow streets, through tunnels, and around sharp, snappy chicanes. There’s the thrill and drama of seeing cars skirt with barriers, with the drivers pushing to the very limit of their ability to get the best possible lap, dancing on that fine line between victory and complete disaster. It is perhaps the purest test of a racer’s focus, concentration, and above all, their skill at handling their car.

Practice sessions for the 2017 race proved fascinating. In FP1 Hamilton and Mercedes were on top, but in FP2 the situation had completely flipped – Ferrari were fastest, and Mercedes? Hamilton was 8th and Bottas 10th – they struggled to make things work for them. Both Red Bulls and both Toro Rossos (yes, you read that correctly) made it in front of the Mercedes, as did the Force India of Sergio Perez – and in FP3 things didn’t improve by much. Vettel was fastest for Ferrari, some half a second quicker than the fastest Mercedes (this time Bottas). Hamilton was nearly a second slower than Vettel, and the Red Bulls were mixing in with the Mercedes, adding a wildcard to proceedings.

Qualifying would prove even better – unless you were Lewis Hamilton. The three-time champion struggled with his car, complaining something was wrong, whilst he made it to Q2, he would go no further, only doing enough for P14 (which would become P13, owing to a penalty for Jensen Button, whose stand-in role saw him qualify in P9 for McLaren, a fantastic effort). Hamilton’s final crack at a good lap was ruined by a crash from Vandoorne in the other McLaren, that brought out yellow flags and ended any hope Hamilton had for getting into Q3.

There was more joy for his teammate Vallteri Bottas, who qualified 3rd, but the real winners in qualifying were Ferrari – but with a twist. Kimi Raikkonen took his first pole in nine years, just shading Sebastian Vettel. Completing the top four (and less than a half a second off Raikkonen’s pace) was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, with Daniel Ricciardo nearly half a second slower in fifth. Was the stage set for intrigue?

At the start Raikkonen got away cleanly and Vettel followed, whilst Bottas cane under early pressure from Verstappen, but began to edge away. As can happen at Monaco, the cars didn’t swap places often, with the two Ferraris pulling clear, whilst Bottas would keep ahead of Verstappen, despite struggling a little with the rear of the car. Raikkonen would eke out a gap of around two seconds, but as he and Vettel started to encroach upon traffic the gap started to shrink. Once the front runners began to lap slower cars, Ferrari made the decision to bring Kimi in, where he fed back into the back markers, costing him time.

Vettel meanwhile, was like a beast unleashed. Suddenly he was pumping in much faster laps, enjoying the clean air in front of him. It was to prove crucial, as Vettel would carry on for a handful of laps and then ditch his ultra-softs for the super-soft tyres, emerging a second ahead of his teammate. Daniel Ricciardo would pull a similar stunt on not only his teammate Verstappen, but also on Bottas, a move that led to some angry expletives on the Red Bull radio from Verstappen, who was not pleased at being leapfrogged. Further back, Lewis Hamilton would do a long stint on the ultra-soft tyres and emerge from the end of it in seventh place.

Vettel would start to race clear of Raikkonen, who either couldn’t – or wouldn’t – match Vettel’s pace. The gap would steadily rise whilst Ricciardo would rapidly catch Kimi – was the Finn demotivated after losing the lead? Soon events would transpire to bunch the field up, and offer Raikkonen another bite of the cherry… namely a safety car period brought about by a highly ambitious overtaking move by Jensen Button on the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein, at the last corner before the tunnel. Button lunged down the inside at a location not famous for overtaking, and his front-left tyre caught the rear-right of Wehrlein, actually half-flipping the Sauber so that it came to a rest sideways against the barrier. Wehrlein was uninjured, but both he and Button were out. The two had nearly tangled in the pits at the start of the race, when Wehrlein was released just as Button came through, so it was in a way fitting that the two would have this incident.

The safety car bunched the pack but didn’t do anything more than that. Once it withdrew Vettel would once again prove comfortable, Bottas would only briefly threaten Ricciardo and there was no way for Verstappen to get by Bottas. For only the fourth time in the hybrid era there would be no Mercedes on the podium, whilst Ferrari won at Monaco for the first time since 2001, though Raikkonen was clearly unhappy afterward. Did Ferrari show favouritism? If so, was it justified? After all, when Vettel had clear track he was much faster than Raikkonen. Vettel has been consistently the quicker of the pair since they became teammates in 2015, and Vettel is very much in the title fight (now 25 points clear of Hamilton), whereas Raikkonen doesn’t appear to be in that battle. Still, purists might feel that manipulating a race, this early in the season, is underhanded and against the spirit of the sport. It’s a difficult question to address.

Still, the aftermath is a Ferrari one-two, a rare feat these days, and one that puts them clear of Mercedes in the constructer’s championship. With Canada and Baku up next, the concern for Mercedes will be tracks that are similar to the Monaco tarmac, and more of the ultra-soft tyres, that Mercedes have struggled with this year. Vettel and Ferrari could yet build up a sizable advantage.

Welcome to F1’s crown jewel. Nothing exudes glamour like the Monaco Grand Prix. On Sunday, twenty cars will contest 78 laps round the narrow streets of the rich principality, on a circuit which is as unforgiving as it is beautiful. Monaco takes no prisoners.

To successfully traverse Monaco you will want good grip, high downforce and keen senses. Run wide at most other venues and you’ll either meet a run-off area or a gravel trap. Make a mistake here and you’ll meet a solid barrier that will end your race. Another problem is with overtaking – Monaco can be notoriously processional, with pit strategy key. It’s likely we’ll get a one-stop race, as teams won’t want to risk relying on their drivers having to pass on track. We can expect qualifying to be tense – grid position here is more vital than anywhere else.

Last year saw Lewis Hamilton pick up his second win here, at a race that he desperately wants to do well at, in order to emulate his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna. Daniel Ricciardo might have won, if not for a calamitous mistake from his pit crew, who cost him several precious seconds by failing to be ready for him. This time, it seems unlikely Red Bull will be in a position to seriously challenge Mercedes or Ferrari, though Monaco is a track that places huge importance on aerodynamics, more so than any other race, so it might be that Ricciardo and Verstappen are closer here. They certainly need to be, given that Ricciardo was 75 seconds behind Vettel’s Ferrari in Spain.

The most likely scenario will once again involve a tussle between Ferrari and Mercedes. Monaco will expose whichever team has the slightly weaker overall design, but it will also come down to a test of mettle between Hamilton and Vettel. Who will be prepared to brake just that fraction earlier, hit the power quicker, get just that tiny bit closer to the barrier? That is what will determine qualifying, and with it, the race.

The first race in Europe is done, and at the venue where F1 carries out pre-season testing, it was Mercedes who came out on top, albeit yet again not without a demonstration of how razor-thin the margin is between themselves and Ferrari.

A pulsating race started with a bang – Lewis Hamilton had put his Mercedes on pole but Sebastian Vettel had narrowly missed out, only 0.051 behind, having locked up slightly at the final chicane to cost him top spot. Further back, Fernando Alonso confirmed his reputation as a miracle-maker by putting his McLaren into 7th – an astonishing piece of magic from the maestro. Vallteri Bottas had beaten Kimi Raikkonen into 3rd on the grid, with the two Red Bulls just behind, albeit some way off the pace, despite a completely revised chassis.

As the race got underway Hamilton and Vettel both enjoyed good starts and Vettel actually got ahead into the first corner. Hamilton followed him round but behind them, Bottas, squeezing around the inside of Raikkonen, bumped the Ferrari and bumped him straight into Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. Raikkonen retired there and then with damaged suspension, whilst Verstappen limped back to the pits, where he too retired. In the chaos, the Williams of Felipe Massa forced Alonso wide at the exit of turn 2, and sustained a puncture in the process, ending any hope either man had of any points, though Alonso would go on to finish a race for the first time this season.

After just one lap Vettel had opened a 2.5 second lead over Hamilton, once again showing how strong Ferrari are this year. This gap would remain more or less the same for several laps, with both cars on the soft tyre. Hamilton would pit first, on lap 14, switching to the medium compound tyre, whilst Vettel wouldn’t pit for several laps, going into the soft again. Vettel came out behind Bottas, who played the role of rear-gunner for Hamilton for a couple of laps, but could nothing as Vettel sold him a dummy on the main straight, ducking around the Finn. It was a move with echoes of Mansell’s famous one against Piquet at Silverstone in 1987 – and it seemed that the advantage was back with Vettel.

The race would turn on its head though, when Stoffel Vandoorne was pushed onto the gravel at turn 1, leading to a virtual safety car spell. Hamilton pitted under this, losing less time than his rivals, whilst Vettel stopped just after it had finished, switching to the  medium tyre. The Ferrari came out of the pits just as Hamilton was shooting down the start/finish line, and the two were wheel-to-wheel as they approached the first corner, where (yet again) we would see a clash of wheels, as Vettel pushed Hamilton off-track. In the eyes of some Hamilton clipped a speed bump and should have driven to the left of a bollard – yet the replays showed that, at worst, only one of Hamilton’s rear tyres caught the bump, whilst it has to be remembered that he had been pushed off-track.

Hamilton would trail Vettel for a few laps, with the two encountering traffic and with Vettel benefiting from DRS as a result, but once the traffic was cleared, Hamilton seized his chance, closing in under DRS on the start-finish straight and breezing by the Ferrari. He would open up a small gap, though it’s to Vettel and Ferrari’s credit that on the slower tyre, they didn’t lose too much ground. However, the Mercedes would hold on to stay ahead, allowing Hamilton to claim his 55th career win, and 2nd win of 2017. For Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, it was a different story, as mechanical failure ruled out any points.

With one each from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all out, there were opportunities to be had for other teams. Fourth and fifth were snatched by the Force India duo of Perez and Ocon, whilst Nico Hulkenberg continued to impress with 6th for Renault, dramatically eclipsing teammate Palmer. Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was classified 7th for Toro Rosso (bumped up a place after a time penalty for Pascal Wehrlein, whose sterling performance is worth singling out in a moment). Daniil Kvyat was 9th for the other Toro Rosso, and Romain Grosjean completed the points positions with 10th for Haas. Coming back to Wehrlein, his four points for Sauber may prove invaluable for the small team, who are now ahead of McLaren in the constructor’s championship, and Wehrlein (whose team put him onto a gutsy 1-stop strategy) held off a lot of pressure from Sainz, over a prolonged spell. His composure and performance serve as a reminder of his potential, during a season where several contracts at big teams are up.

Back toward the front of the field, hopes that Red Bull would close the gap on the top two evaporated. Ricciardo was the only driver to avoid being lapped, but he was 75 seconds behind Hamilton come the end. This is a crushing margin, in spite of upgrades to the Red Bull, which clearly needs improvements to the Renault engine to be a serious contender. The next race, at Monaco, will highlight aerodynamic strengths, but even with Red Bull’s quality in this area, will it be enough to offer even a sliver of a chance for anything other than best of the rest?

So, after five races (we are 25% of the way through the season), Vettel leads on 104 points, Hamilton is second on 98 points, with Bottas third on 63 points, and Raikkonen is fourth, with 49 points. In the constructor’s championship, Mercedes lead on 161 points, with Ferrari on 153, and then a big gap to Red Bull, who are on 72 points. Force India are looking good in fourth, with 53 points, comfortably clear of Toro Rosso (who are on 21 points).

Next up is Formula 1’s crown jewel, Monaco!