Who were the winners and losers of an action-packed British Grand Prix last weekend? We rate the field:
Lewis Hamilton: After Austria, Hamilton was hoping that Silverstone is going to be a clean slate for him, and it was, a grand slam with pole, win with all laps led and a fastest lap. Usually home races are not that generous to a driver, but Hamilton claimed his fourth consecutive win there, and fifth in total, and it would have been the ultimate weekend for him if he equaled Michael Schumacher’s pole number with 68. After an amazing qualifying lap he led the race comfortably and was quick when he needed to, and the Brit seems to be mentally stronger. This was the perfect response to those who criticsed his failure to show up for the London F1 Live event, and he made it all up for any fans he disappointed.
Valtteri Bottas: From ninth to second – perhaps a touch lucky thanks to Ferrari’s late-race tyre dramas – it was nevertheless a great race. The Finn was masterfully quick on his old Soft tyres and made them last as long as possible on an alternate strategy brought about by his five-place grid penalty. He also made some great passing moves and again showed he is a title contender. Let’s not forget that in Austria his teammate Hamilton started eighth and was not able to finish better that fourth…
Max Verstappen: The kid is simply unpassable, and whenever it seems that the move on him is done, he is right there clinging to his position. But an overly cautious decision to make him do an extra pit stop cost him what could have been a podium.
Daniel Riccardo: Starting from 19th on the grid, it was going to be tough for Ricciardo to emulate his run to victory in Azerbaijan from a similar position. With no rain mixing things up and no Safety Car interruptions other than at the very start of the race where he’d already been run off the road by Romain Grosjean, Riccardo had to settle for fifth. All things considered, it was a great result.
Force India: The car showed its weakness in the high-speed corners at this aerodynamically demanding track, but still, another double points finish helped consolidate fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship and drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez again kept it clean.
Renault and Nico Hülkenberg: The car finally delivered. Nico has been quick in qualifying all year, only to fall down the order in the race. This time a major update package the team brought has worked, and finishing sixth meant that he was effectively the leading midfield runner. If Renault could keep the performance up, and get Palmer to deliver, they might even catch Torro Rosso or even Williams in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Ferrari: It’s not the first time we have seen the Ferrari cars hitting trouble at the same time, but with less than two laps to go it must have been gutting for the Italian team. Whether it was a calculation error, poor set-up or drivers’ mistakes, throwing away 14 certain points will surely have a big effect on the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles. Their latest engine update seemed to suit Kimi Räikkönen more than Sebastian Vettel, and the German was largely left in the Finn’s wake after he was outqualified by his teammate and then boxed in behind Max Verstappen at the start.
Sebastian Vettel: Lagging behind Räikkönen in qualifying set the tone for the race for Vettel, and after he was jumped by Max Verstappen he was denied any chance of stopping Hamilton taking a bite into his championship lead. A late tyre failure sees him now lead the Mercedes driver by a single point, leaving him with no margin for error or for cautious driving.
Stoffel Vandoorne: No matter where he is in the race, Vandoorne has largely been invisible this season. He’s yet to show any qualities of the great GP2 Series Championship-winning driver we were promised, and although he gave Massa’s Williams a push the whole race, what was unclear was if it was because of Honda’s update, or Williams’ poor performance at Silverstone. A long, unnecessary stint with the soft tyres consigned him to another point-less afternoon.
Haas: The race was nothing compared to their performance back in Austria. Like Williams and (to a far lesser extent) Force India, the VF17 chassis is a victim to the characteristics of the track they are racing on; something the top teams don’t seem to suffer from.
Fernando Alonso: After three years, yet another pointless race for the Spaniard, and with the crowd’s response after his fastest time in Q1, we can see that everyone is dying to watch this great driver racing for the top spot.
Daniel Kvyat: He caused his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr a near-spin in Azerbaijan, and this time he went one better by punting him off. Racing side-by-side through Copse and into Maggotts/Becketts, Sainz actually gave him enough room, but Kvyat is working hard to reclaim the ‘torpedo’ nickname that was given to him last season. He was such a promise at his first two seasons but has been a shadow of his former self since being demoted to Toro Rosso. It will be sad that his home race in 2016 was the downfall of his career.
Pirelli tyres: Although Pirelli’s official statement was that the two Ferraris’ tyre failures were not related, they did happen within a lap of each other and on the same left-front tyre. The ghost of the 2013 British Grand Prix tyre saga was seen floating over the circuit after the race. It was not the sort of press that Pirelli needed.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team