Lewis Hamilton has claimed an emotional win on home soil at today’s British Grand Prix, capitalising on a retirement to teammate Nico Rosberg in an incident-filled race.
The race was red-flagged for one hour following a first-lap collision between Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, after which Hamilton was among a number of drivers to charge through the field. Valtteri Bottas finished second with a sterling drive from eighteenth on the grid, while Daniel Ricciardo survived a late challenge from Jenson Button to claim the final podium spot.
The result saw Rosberg’s 29-point advantage over his teammate trimmed to just four points ahead of the German’s home Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time, setting fans up for a thrilling pair of Grands Prix at the Hockhenheim and Hungaroring before the mid-season summer break.
As the starting lights went out, it was Rosberg who skipped away into the lead from pole, while a slow-starting Sebastian Vettel squandered his front row start and was quickly overtaken by Jenson Button and a rapid Kevin Magnussen. Hamilton was also making inroads from ninth on the grid; he was up ahead of the German into fourth through the ‘Arena’ complex, with the pair brushing wheels in the close-quarter racing.
Further behind, Felipe Massa and Sergio Pérez had poor starts. Massa’s anti-stall kicked in and dropped him to the rear of the field, although he immediately gained a place after Pérez was pitched into a slide by Jean-Éric Vergne’s Toro Rosso at Turn 1.
The real drama came down the Wellington Straight. Kimi Räikkönen was forced wide at the exit of Aintree by one of the Marussias and in his attempts to rejoin the circuit as quickly as possible, he had a tank-slapper after catching a bump on the edge of the track. The imbalance pitched him into a 150mph front-end collision with the Armco barriers, which pin-balled him back onto the circuit and into the path of the chasing cars.
Kamui Kobayashi took to the grass verge on the left and escaped with little more than a mangled nose tip on his Caterham, but Felipe Massa wasn’t quite as lucky. The Brazilian was recovering from his sluggish start and preparing to overtake Marcus Ericsson, meaning he was unsighted as to Räikkönen’s mangled Ferrari sliding broadside across the track. He had a split second to react as Ericsson swerved in avoidance, and spun his Williams to try and avoid T-boning the unlucky 2007 World Champion.
Massa’s left-rear tagged the already-battered front end of the Ferrari, which sent Räikkönen into the barriers on the opposite side of the circuit. Räikkönen clambered out and limped to the Medical Car that had arrived on the scene, where a follow-up examination in the circuit’s medical centre confirmed he had fortunately suffered no more than bruising. Ferrari subsequently ruled him out of participating in his week’s two-day in-season test at the circuit.
Massa managed to get going, but his burst left-rear tyre damaged the floor of his car and he had to park his Williams. It was hardly the sort of 200th Grand Prix celebrations the Brazilian had hoped for.
Officials red-flagged the race so the accident mess could be cleared and the Räikkönen-dented barriers could be replaced. The stoppage lasted one hour, by which time Max Chilton found himself served with a drive-through penalty for pitting his Marussia at the end of the red-flagged opening lap to get a new front wing. The site of his car moving down the pit lane among a sea of mechanics running to get onto the starting grid in readiness for the restart told you exactly why the penalty was warranted.
The Safety Car would restart the race, and after the field had an exploratory lap the race resumed at the beginning of Lap 3.
Button, up to second, was completely asleep as to Rosberg bolting off into the distance before the green flag was thrown, giving the German a handy two-second buffer by the time he crossed the start/finish line.
Up to fourth, a rapid Hamilton quickly set about deposing the much slower McLaren duo; he passed Magnussen on the restart lap and blasted by his compatriot Button a lap later to enormous cheers from his many fans in the grandstands. Rosberg was next up, but the German kept enough in hand to keep a healthy gap over his teammate during the opening stint, although he – tellingly – warned of an intermittent downshift problem.
Also carving their way through the field were Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso. The pair made a succession of brave passing moves to move into the top-six by the first round of pit stops. Alonso’s charge was momentarily thwarted by a five-second stop/go penalty – which he served on his sole tour to the pits – for massively overshooting his assigned grid slot at the first start. The penalty massively understated the potential benefit that his three-metre headstart gave him.
Rosberg was the first of the Mercedes’ to pit, taking on another set of Medium Pirelli tyres, while Hamilton ran five laps longer and took on Hards – effectively keeping his strategic options open and allowing him to run a one-stop race should he wish to do so.
Hamilton’s pit stop was rather slower, but he brushed off these concerns with a succession of quick laps on the slower tyre compound to slash into his teammate’s lead. Rosberg’s gearbox woes weren’t going away, and on Lap 30 the German suffered one clunky downshift too many. With his gearbox seemingly only capable of selecting fifth of BBC Radio 5 Live, a frantic pit-to-car call to Mercedes’ IT helpdesk wasn’t going to reset the faulty transmission and he limped to a disconsolate stop in the infield at Becketts. Barring the same failure to his teammate, Rosberg’s hard-fought points lead would be slashed. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
Hamilton, meanwhile, inherited a massive lead over second-placed Bottas and a certain second victory on home soil. The result was a delight to the very partisan crowd, but disappointing in that it denied us of a potentially thrilling grandstand finish between the Silver Arrows.
We needn’t have worried about the lack of a battle for the lead, as behind the leading pair there were thrills aplenty. Ricciardo was running third after making what would turn out to be his one and only stop on Lap 15. He ran almost forty laps on his second tyre set, and managed to deny Jenson Button a maiden podium on home soil in the final laps when JB finally woke up to the opportunity of a visit to the rostrum.
Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in fifth ahead of Alonso, after an exciting grudge match between the pair which lasted over a dozen laps after Vettel’s pit stop. Alonso got by the German before his tyres could get up to temperature, but once his new rubber got going, Vettel was on a charge and desperate to get by the Spaniard’s very wide Ferrari.
Alonso was using every trick in the book to keep Vettel at bay and the battle remained clean throughout, even though both repeatedly whinged like school children over the pit-to-car radio about the other’s driving standards. The complaining detracted from some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing we’ve seen this year, and it took a brave move from Vettel to finally get ahead along the old start/finish straight.
Kevin Magnussen added to McLaren’s points haul by finishing in seventh, while Nico Hülkenberg battled hard in an off-the-pace Force India to finish eighth and continue his string of point-scoring finishes.
Toro Rosso – which has historically performed well here but not always with great luck – nailed another double-points finish, with Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne rounding out the top ten.
Despite their impressive qualifying performance, neither Marussia was going to make an impact in the dry-weather race. It was no surprise to see both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton tumble down the order as the race wore on; Bianchi was fourteenth with Chilton two spots behind and the last of those still running. The pair sandwiched Kamui Kobayashi, who was the sole finisher for Caterham under its new mysterious ownership.
Kobayashi’s teammate Marcus Ericsson – along with Esteban Gutiérrez and Pastor Maldonado – was one of the race’s other retirees. The Swede – who had struggled all weekend with umpteen spins – was out early on when his front left suspension collapsed after twelve laps.
Gutiérrez and Maldonado tried to replicate their Bahrain contretemps, although this time it was the Mexican who was at fault. The pair was battling over thirteenth place when the Sauber driver tried to pass the Lotus into the Vale chicane. Maldonado predictably closed the door and their wheels interlocked, which saw Maldonado being tipped into the air, although fortunately minus the barrel-roll Gutiérrez sustained earlier in the season.
Incredibly Maldonado managed to keep going – he would retire in the final laps with a broken exhaust – but Gutiérrez, suffering clearly damaged right front suspension and a puncture tyre, tried to continue to the pits, only to slide into the Turn 2 gravel at high speed and instant retirement. It was all decidedly amateurish from the former GP3 champion, whose graduation into F1 continues in its failure to impress. Not surprisingly, the stewards would later rule that he was at fault for the collision with Maldonado, hitting him with a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Germany.
2014 British Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (52 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||52||2:26:52.094|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||52||+ 30.135|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||52||+ 46.495|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||52||+ 47.390|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||52||+ 53.864|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||52||+ 59.946|
|7.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||52||+ 1:02.563|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||52||+ 1:28.692|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||52||+ 1:29.340|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||51||1 lap behind|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||51||1 lap behind|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||51||1 lap behind|
|13.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||51||1 lap behind|
|14.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||51||1 lap behind|
|15.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||50||2 laps behind|
|16.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||50||2 laps behind|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||49||Exhaust|
|DNF.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||28||Gearbox|
|DNF.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||11||Suspension|
|DNF.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||9||Collision|
|DNF.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||0||Collision|
Image via FOM, Sutton Images and XPB Images
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