Lewis Hamilton has taken his second consecutive win at Silverstone today (and his third overall), following a race that offered up much in the way of entertainment – and missed opportunities.
The very start of the race saw both Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas jump the Mercedes’ pair at the start, with Massa taking the lead and Hamilton just about fending off Bottas, though Bottas relegated Rosberg to fourth. Chaos at the back saw both Lotuses crash out, collecting McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and sending Alonso punting into the side of teammate Jenson Button. Button was out, and Alonso had to limp back to the pits to change his front wing – hardly the greatest of starts for a team that has struggled horribly so far this year.
These incidents triggered a safety car spell on the very first lap, and when the race resumed in earnest Hamilton was aggressively trying to squeeze past Massa, but ended up locking up and running wide, letting Bottas through. The two Williams cars then proceeded to keep the Mercedes cars at bay, albeit just barely, but Bottas was noticeably quicker than Massa – and unable to get past. Williams wouldn’t issue orders letting him by – which in hindsight might have been a mistake. Bottas could have pulled away, but Massa would not yield, and thus was holding up Bottas, who had Hamilton close by for company.
When the pit stops arrived, they mixed things up. Hamilton ended up in the lead, but Rosberg was still stuck behind Bottas, who was still behind Massa. With clear air, Hamilton was able to pull away, but then another variable changed things all the more – rain.
It was hardly a torrential downpour, but the sprinkling of rain changed the dynamics of the circuit, especially since the rain was not consistently coming down over the whole track. With parts of the track becoming slippery and others still dry, some drivers pitted for intermediate tyres – such as Kimi Raikkonen, who pitted too soon – and others took a chance to stay out on the dry tyres.
As conditions continued to change, the rain stopped briefly, albeit with the possibility of more. Stopping for inters was a gamble – was it worth the risk?
Williams struggled as the weather conditions changed, allowing Rosberg to charge past both Bottas and Massa. He then took off after Lewis, lapping nearly two seconds faster as the rain returned. Hamilton made the decision to pit for inters, judging that the rain would continue, and he made the call perfectly.
As the circuit became wetter, Rosberg had to stop. Both Williams cars had to stop as well, which allowed Vettel to snatch third place (having started in sixth). For the final few laps Hamilton was untroubled, taking victory to reopen a 17-point lead in the title fight. Williams will be buoyed by fourth and fifth, and in fact disappointed by not getting a podium. Force India continued their upward momentum with more good points, with Hulkenburg taking 7th and Perez 9th, Raikkonen sandwiched inbetween them. Kvyat took 6th for Red Bull, but the other three Renault-powered cars all retired – Ricciardo and both Toro Rossos.
Alonso recovered from the disasterous start to take a point in 10th place, albeit aided considerably by retirements for not only Ricciardo, but also Verstappen, Sainz, Maldonaldo, Grosjean, Nasr and Button. It seems unlikely McLaren will be especially overjoyed by taking a single point today.
We are now at the halfway point of the championship, so I’ll soon be taking a look at my predictions and seeing how they stack up with the actual season.