The records keep tumbling for Lewis Hamilton, who triumphed in an action-packed British Grand Prix to claim an unprecedented sixth victory at Silverstone. The British driver finished ahead of Mercedes-AMG teammate Valtteri Bottas after a luckily-timed Safety Car allowed him to pit and get ahead of the Finnish driver. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third.
Hamilton did everything he could to ensure that Formula 1 grabbed as many headlines as the other major sporting events taking place in the UK – the Cricket World Cup final and the Wimbledon Men’s tennis final – with a superb drive in front of a bumper crowd of 141,000 fans.
With the preceding Austrian Grand Prix delivering plenty of on-track action, the racing at Silverstone proved even more frenetic throughout the field. As the top-three drivers later pointed out, the sport’s organisers should focus on their selection of venues, rather than tinkering with the rules, to spice up the show.
The drama came as soon as the lights went out. Having been beaten off the start line from pole position in China and Spain, Bottas wasn’t about to lose out again and duly fended off a determined Hamilton through the opening sequence of corners on a frenetic first lap.
The pair ran nose-to-tail over the following laps, with Hamilton staying within DRS range to zero up to the back of his teammate along the Wellington and Hangar Straights. He drew to the outside of Bottas under braking at Brooklands and snatched the lead, only for Bottas to bravely lunge up the inside and reclaim the position into Copse. It was thrilling, wheel-to-wheel racing between the pair where no quarter was given.
Bottas made his first pit stop, taking a second set of Medium Pirelli tyres to confirm he would have to visit the pits again later in the race. Hamilton stayed out, extending his first stint in the hope of a Safety Car, while Bottas lapped quickly enough to deny the defending champion an overcut if he was forced to pit under green-flag conditions.
As luck would have it – and has so often fallen Hamilton’s way – a full-course caution was called when Antonio Giovinazzi clumsily beached his Alfa Romeo in the gravel trap at Vale. Hamilton dived into the pits for what was effectively a free pit stop, took on a set of Hard tyres to see him through to the finish line, and emerged from the pit lane comfortably ahead of Bottas. Job done.
He went on to close out victory with clinical precision. Bottas gave chase valiantly, but his chance of victory was over given he had to pit again and Hamilton didn’t. Mercedes called the Finn in to the pits in the final laps so he could bolt on a set of Soft tyres and challenge for the fastest lap bonus point, but Hamilton rejected the team’s calls to similarly make a second stop. On tyres that were 32 laps old, he pulled out all the stops on his final tour, to claim the bonus point for himself.
All a shell-shocked Bottas could do was to congratulate Hamilton and lick his wounds. Once his media duties were done, Hamilton went out to celebrate his 80th Grand Prix victory and crowdsurfed among the thousands of fans who had stayed behind to see their hero one more time.
With an extended advantage of 39 points to Bottas in the Drivers’ Championship fight, a sixth title is beginning to look increasingly certain as the season’s halfway point approaches at Mercedes’ home event in Germany.
While the battle between the Mercedes teammate was resolved by their first pit stops, the fight for the final podium position was an edge-of-the-seat battle between Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
It was punch and counter-punch between Leclerc and Max Verstappen in the first stint, with the pair reigniting their hostilities from a fortnight ago in Austria where Verstappen forced his way by the Monégasque driver in the final laps to claim victory.
This time Leclerc had his elbows out, repeatedly holding Verstappen’s attacks at bay in an increasingly intense battle. While Leclerc would drop to fifth after his pit stop, teammate Sebastian Vettel managed to vault to third by following Hamilton into the pits during the Safety Car.
Fourth-placed Verstappen now zeroed up to the back of the #5 Ferrari and divebombed the German into Stowe. Vettel tried to counter-attack into Vale, but as Verstappen moved to cover him off he missed his braking point and slammed into the back of the Dutchman.
Both were sent spinning into the gravel but rejoined, although Vettel had to limp back to the pits for a new front wing and eventually crossed the finish line in fifteenth, which became sixteenth when the FIA Stewards rightly awarded him a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.
It was yet another costly mistake from Vettel, and while he graciously apologised to Verstappen – who bravely hauled his damaged car to fifth place behind teammate Pierre Gasly – immediately after the race, the German now sits 100 points adrift of Hamilton in the championship standings. It will be another season before the four-time World Champion can hope to challenge for a fifth crown.
Leclerc inherited third place thanks to his teammate’s tangle with Verstappen, although in fairness to the Ferrari rookie he had outdriven his more experienced stablemate all weekend. The balance of focus is steadily shifting the youngster’s way as Vettel will surely be forced to address his continued missteps.
Gasly finished a season’s best fourth, in easily his most impressive performance since graduating to the senior Red Bull team at the beginning of the season.
Despite qualifying outside the top-ten, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. was another driver who benefited from a pit stop during the Safety Car. The Spaniard crossed the finish line in sixth, having defended his position for lap after lap against a determined Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault.
In a good day for the Enstone squad, the Australian’s teammate Nico Hülkenberg finished in tenth, with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen a fine eighth and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat an excellent ninth after qualifying well down the order.
Sainz and Kvyat’s respective teammates, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon – both of whom were effectively racing on home soil – could count themselves unlucky not to be in the points. Norris faded through the race to finish thirteenth, one spot behind Albon who fell out of a certain points’ finish when electrical gremlins started to play havoc with his Honda power unit.
The weekend was a complete disaster for the Haas F1 Team, which unwittingly featured in the headlines all weekend amid Twitter pronouncements by title sponsor Rich Energy’s increasingly unhinged CEO, William Storey, that he was severing ties with the team over its recent performances.
The Ferrari-powered cars continued to carry the energy drink’s branding through the weekend, but had an early pack-up when both drivers banged wheels on the opening lap and were forced to retire.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2019 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (52 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||52||1:21:08.452||26|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||52||+ 24.928||18|
|3.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||52||+ 30.117||12|
|4.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||52||+ 34.692||10|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||52||+ 39.458||8|
|6.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||52||+ 53.639||6|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||52||+ 54.401||4|
|8.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||52||+ 1:05.540||2|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||52||+ 1:06.720||1|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||52||+ 1:12.733|
|11.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||52||+ 1:14.281|
|12.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||52||+ 1:15.617|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||52||+ 1:21.086|
|14.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||51||1 lap behind|
|15.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||51||1 lap behind|
|16.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||51||1 lap behind|
|17.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||51||1 lap behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason||Pts|
|DNF.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||18||Spin|
|DNF.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||9||Damage|
|DNF.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||6||Damage|
Points are awarded to the top 10 classified finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Lewis Hamilton is awarded an additional 1 championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race by a points’ finisher.
- Sebastian Vettel – who provisionally finished P15 – was issued a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Max Verstappen.
Images via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Getty