British Grand Prix

2015 British Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Hamilton wins thrilling British Grand Prix

Just what the doctor ordered. As negativity has permeated the sport in recent weeks and months, 2015 needed a blockbuster race to reinvigorate fans and quell the vociferous critics. On a day when 140,000 passionate supporters came out to back the sport they love, that very sport provided an incredible spectacle filled with unpredictability. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas launched themselves past a struggling Mercedes duo, to lead from the start. However, as the reigning champions began to flex their muscles, rain added another element of jeopardy and prompted Lewis Hamilton to make a bold, but ultimately race winning strategic call.

Crisis, what crisis?

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2015 British Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

With Mercedes dominance predicted on a circuit which should favour the characteristics of the W06, the man most likely to spoil Lewis Hamilton’s home-coming is his teammate Nico Rosberg. This race marks the latest chapter in their duel and on the basis of today, Nico has the upper-hand. Albeit a challenging day for Rosberg, including a truncated FP1 due to a hydraulic leak, the German appears far more comfortable in the car than Hamilton, who struggled to just fourth on the timesheet in FP2, while posting long run times well down on his championship rival. By his own admission, Lewis needs “a lot more pace,” if he is to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

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2015 British Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

The British Grand Prix weekend is my favorite race weekend of the season – but then again, I am biased. Nonetheless, Silverstone is a magical venue, featuring some of the world’s most remarkable corners and having played host to many classic Grand Prix’s of yesteryear. When a British driver heads into the weekend with a chance of victory, as Lewis Hamilton does this weekend, the atmosphere reaches fever pitch, with the potential to spill into euphoria should he repeat the feat of 12 months ago and take the 25 points away from his home race. However, with Nico Rosberg entering the weekend on the back of three wins from the previous four races, including success last time out in Austria, Hamilton will surely face a stern test.

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The Likelihood of London

The London Grand Prix has been somewhat of a pipe dream for a while now. After all, the idea of a race on the streets of the capital seems highly unlikely and while the cinematic videos show a magnificent spectacle, the proposed circuit seems just the slightest bit impractical, to say the least! However, David Cameron announced yesterday that new legislation will allow motor racing on public roads to take place in the future, which does open up the potential for a London Grand Prix to be held. The pipe-dream is now just that little bit closer to reality, but is still surly nothing more than a distant vision.

Ready for Formula E

While the legislation does open up the opportunity for a London Grand Prix, it seems that this law has been passed with Formula E in mind instead of Formula One. The all-electric series is planning a race in Battersea Park next summer, but without this new legislation, this event could not be held. Hence, it seems to be more of a coincidence that the new law would allow a London street race, as Cameron has not alluded to such an event.
Despite this, the government’s support for the motorsport industry was evident during the announcement. Cameron stated; “I can announce today that we are going to enable more road races for GB motor sport. We think this will be really useful to British motor sport: more races, more events, more money coming into the country and more success for this extraordinary industry.” Its certainly a positive that the government are recognising the industry as an important one – lets not forget that eight of the 11 Formula One teams are based in the UK, so it is somewhat of an expectation.
However, the fact that the announcement came during a visit to Williams’ factory at Grove was perhaps another contributory factor to stimulating the rumours and speculation as to London. If we take a moment to consider the logistical issues, its unlikely that the Greater London Assembly would agree to a race. Firstly, hosting a Grand Prix would mean shutting down the centre of London for at least four days – the likelihood is that anything up to a week would be needed for preparation and then the eventual de-rigging of the circuit furniture. While the event would potentially stimulate investment in London, this would surly not compensate for the costs of the race, both to the commercial rights holder and the money lost due to the shut-down of industries. It is far easier for Singapore and Monaco to close the streets as the location of the races are not at the economic heart of the country. A London Grand Prix would cause more disruption than it would be worth.
Therefore, there is certainly not an imminent announcement of a London Grand Prix, and I doubt there will ever be. Its an intriguing vision and while it would be interesting to see happen, its probably better off in our imaginations. Let’s just be glad that we have Silverstone for now!    

2014 British Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Hamilton Hits The Home Run

The British fans went home happy yesterday, with Lewis Hamilton hitting the home run and winning his second British Grand Prix. In a dramatic race, Nico Rosberg’s luck finally run out, as his gearbox failed at around half race distance and Hamilton was ready to capitalise in emphatic fashion. A standing ovation met the sole remaining Silver Arrow as it crossed the line and the applause would have been even louder if Jenson Button had managed to complete his late charge and overtake Daniel Ricciardo for P3. Despite catching the Aussie at an astounding rate, Button simply ran out of laps. Regardless, yesterday was all about Lewis Hamilton – His 27th career victory is no going to be forgotten in a hurry.

HAMmer Time

After the disappointment of Saturday, Hamilton had much to consider ahead of the race. P6 was a disastrous result, particularly considering that his fate was in his own hands heading into the final run of Q3. Regardless, the Brit’s mindset was evidently in a much more positive mode for race-day. He was into P2 in no time, but finding Nico five seconds ahead, he had a mountain to climb. “Still I Rise” was unquestionably in effect over the weekend and while the gap stabilised throughout the opening exchanges, upon fitting the hard compound tyre, Hamilton found incredible pace and reeled in a limping teammate by an astounding second per lap. With pace of this calibre, Hamilton was fast becoming the favourite for the race victory, yet had Nico not broken down, the imminent battle would have been fascinating. Even Lewis has stated that he would have much preferred to battle his teammate and give the fans the on track excitement that they so craved. However, I think a Lewis victory was fairly good compensation.
What I was particularly impressed by was Lewis’ attitude – perhaps not on Saturday, but Sunday’s performance showed great maturity. For example, following another lackluster pit-stop, (this time not influenced by Hamilton’s positioning in the box), Lewis immediately came over the radio, stating, “Don’t worry about the stop guys. Let’s just get the next one right”. This is maturity which we have not seen from Lewis in a long time, and is unquestionably advantageous to his title challenge. Its easy for the Brit to act like a champion in one race, but across a number of races is the real challenge.

Alonso vs Vettel

Two of the greatest drivers of this generation battling tooth and nail, with points and pride on the line is always going to provide fireworks. Two stopping Sebastian Vettel catches the one stopping Fernando Alonso with ease and after the Spaniard has been claiming that Sebastian’s talents have been overstated in recent years, this was his chance to prove his theory. We all know that Fernando is an incredible driver when on the defensive – perhaps the best there currently is on the grid – and he certainly highlighted his talents yesterday. While some of his desperate moves were on the limit of fair, that is the way that the best in the business operate.
One of the most jaw-dropping moments so far this year came during this spectacular fight. Alonso was defending the outside line heading into Copse and with Vettel on the inside, the Red Bull driver had the high ground. However, in typical Alonso fashion, the Spaniard claimed the corner and forced Sebastian to take his foot off of the proverbial loud pedal. The trust which Fernando placed in Sebastian in this instance was remarkable – if Vettel had not reacted to the Ferrari, the two would have had a huge accident. Safe to say, Fernando would not have defended in this manner against a rookie!
Its better to ignore the fact that both drivers were reporting each other to the stewards on countless occasions and just recognise and appreciate the incredible skill demonstrated. Vettel may have come out on top, but Alonso’s defence has once again highlighted his remarkable ability.

Raikkonen’s Red

However, all this action came an hour later than expected. A huge accident for Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap prompted the red flag to be waved for the first time since Monaco last season, and the need for barrier repairs meant that the race was suspended for one hour. This was the least of the fans worries though, considering the ferocious impact sustained by Kimi.
I’m sure anyone who is interested enough to have continued reading this far has already seen the crash, so there is no need to explain what happened. However, the 47G impact suffered by the Finn was certainly a talking point. Fortunately, the chassis remained in tact, (which you would expect after the rigorous crash tests in the modern era), and Kimi has escaped with nothing more than some nasty bruises. These bruises are serious enough to prevent him from taking part in Wednesday’s test, but Jules Bianchi will be keeping his seat warm for him. It is expected that he will be fit for the German Grand Prix, which is obviously the most important upcoming date in the Finn’s diary.

Conclusions

Lewis’ fifth win of the season is perhaps his most crucial to date. The Brit has suffered three disappointing weekends in a row prior to Silverstone and with momentum seemingly playing a key part in this year’s title race, Hamilton needed to halt Rosberg’s relentless march. Its the first time Nico has not been in the top two at a race weekend all season, yet the bubble has now burst – the question is, can Rosberg bounce back at his own home race in Germany, or is it Hamilton’s turn to apply the pressure.

Driver of the Day
Valtteri Bottas
The flying Finn tag may have to be applied to young Valtteri soon, as the start of his race was nothing short of remarkable. Bottas made some fantastic manoeuvres at Stowe in the early stages to get into the podium positions. After this, he was simply untouchable for the rest of the afternoon and the best of the rest accolade was never in doubt.

Race Result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Jenson Button McLaren
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
11 Sergio Perez Force India
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus
13 Adrian Sutil Sauber
14 Jules Bianchi Marussia
15 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
16 Max Chilton Marussia
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
Did Not Finish
Nico Rosberg Mercedes
Marcus Ericsson Caterham
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
Felipe Massa Williams
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari    
        

2014 British Grand Prix: Saturday Analysis

In 14 years of watching Formula One, I cannot recall a Qualifying session that was quite as frantic as today’s was. As the traditional British weather of sunshine and showers rolled in over the Silverstone wing, the session was turned on its head, not once, not twice, but in all three parts of qualifying. It was in these circumstances that Lewis Hamilton failed to read the changing conditions and made yet another mistake which could define his season. Starting in P6, the Brit has plenty of work to do if he wants to catch his teammate Rosberg, who will start from Pole Position. Meanwhile, with both Ferrari and Williams biting the dust in Q1 and both Sauber’s ending their day in the wall, Hamilton was not the only man to be disappointed by the end of the hour.

FP3

After yesterday’s glorious sunshine, this morning was more about pack-a-macks rather than shirt sleeves and shorts, and it was not just the fans who had to brave the conditions. Drivers suffered a difficult session with even the experienced names such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel making uncharacteristic excursions. As a result of the shower dodging, the timesheet was rather unrepresentative, with neither Mercedes man recording a time, which allowed Vettel and Ricciardo to finish on top of the pile. Regardless, it is likely that in similar conditions in Qualifying, the Red Bull’s can take the fight to the Silver Arrows. 
This topsy-turvey timesheet saw Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean take P3 and P4, but Lotus’ morning was far from straight-forward. Neither was last night for the Enstone based team, as they broke the curfew on Maldonado’s side of the garage. Meanwhile, Grosjean has had a scheduled gearbox change, but nearly gave his mechanics some additional work to complete, when he came perilously close to the pit wall after spinning at Turn 18. The painted kerb on the exit of the corner proved problematic for a number of drivers this morning, yet Romain certainly exaggerated the issue. Running off the track at Turn 18 was a dangerous game for the drivers to play this morning, and in dry conditions, the stewards have confirmed that running wide at this particular corner will result in the lap being discounted. However, if its wet, I doubt any drivers will run wide deliberately as their session could be over in an instant. 
Meanwhile, McLaren had a dreadful start to their Saturday, with the cool conditions highlighting the deficiencies of the MP4-29. Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen’s mileage was significantly limited by these issues which meant that the drivers could not get the car up to the required temperatures. It appears that the team will tape up the brake cooling ducts ahead of Qualifying, in order to counteract this.  
FP3 Timesheet  

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:52.522 6 laps
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:52.631 6 laps
3 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:53.044 10 laps
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:53.566 6 laps
5 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:53.585 12 laps
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:53.654 15 laps
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:53.911 5 laps
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1:54.041 6 laps
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:54.217 4 laps
10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:54.558 5 laps
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:54.602 6 laps
12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:54.761 13 laps
13 Felipe Massa Williams 1:55.003 4 laps
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:55.688 6 laps
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:56.918 7 laps
16 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:57.091 10 laps
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:57.566 6 laps
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:57.914 10 laps
19 Max Chilton Marussia No time 1 laps
20 Fernando Alonso Ferrari No time 4 laps
21 Nico Rosberg Mercedes No time 4 laps
22 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time 5 lap

Qualifying Analysis

If ever the current Qualifying format was under scrutiny, today’s session answered all of the questions. The rain started, then stopped, then started again, and the pattern continued. Those teams who were caught radar watching were the biggest loosers today, as Ferrari and Williams were both caught out by an unpredicted rain shower which came right at the end of Q1. Then, in the closing stages of Q3, Lewis Hamilton was caught out by a quickly drying sector three and will start from down in P6 after aborting his final run. Yet another mistake from Hamilton, as Rosberg takes another huge advantage in the psychological battle between the two halves of Mercedes.
This most recent chapter of the intra-team Mercedes duel is unquestionably an intriguing one. I may be reading into it a little too much, but today’s events seem significant. Lewis and Nico crossed the line to start their final run, nose to tail, with the German following the Brit. The difference between the two was that upon struggling through sector one, Hamilton aborted his lap, allowing Rosberg through. While Hamilton had seemingly given up, his teammate’s resilience meant that when he arrived at the driest part of the circuit, he was rewarded. Hamilton had evidently not considered the possibility of conditions improving later on in the lap and ultimately, this may have cost him Pole today – You would expect he could have reached P2 at least. This incident could effect Hamilton’s mindset ahead of tomorrow’s race, as Nico has once again capitalised on a Hamilton mistake. Having not finished outside of the top two positions so far this season, Rosberg is fast becoming a points vacuum and Hamilton now needs to respond tomorrow if he is to break the German’s momentum. 
Hamilton’s provisional Pole Position earned after the first run became P6 as everyone who took the gamble in the closing stages of Q3 were rewarded. This included Sebastian Vettel, who had to abort his first run and so entered the stage at the end of Q3 with nothing to loose. After taking provisional Pole, he eventually fell to P2. Meanwhile, the British fans could at least cheer one man in the top three, as Jenson Button made an unexpected return to the post-qualifying press conference, as he hauled the MP4-29 up to P3. It was a great day for McLaren in general as Kevin Magnussen qualified in a more than respectable P5. This performance from McLaren may have been aided by external circumstances, but considering the team’s issues in the cool temperatures, it was impressive. The duct-tape on the brake ducts seemingly proved effective! Nico Hulkenberg was another of the beneficiaries from the circumstances, popping into provisional Pole before falling to P4. 
However, the team who optimised their strategy in response to the showers was undoubtedly Marussia. With their best qualifying performance ever, Jules Bianchi will start from P12 tomorrow, with Max Chilton starting in P18 after accounting for his five place grid-drop. The team opted for the bold strategy in Q1, switching onto the slick tyre at the earliest possible time, which ultimately proved to be the right time. Ferrari and Williams demonstrated what happened when the switch was made too late and conservative decisions proved costly. One aspect of today’s qualifying which proved to be highly confusing was Caterham’s decision to take this same conservative approach. For a team who were not set for a Q2 appearance in normal circumstances, it made perfect sense to follow Marussia’s lead and make the bold decisions. Marcus Ericsson’s numerous adventures summed up not just Caterham’s session, but their season in general. The new owner’s, (whoever they are), have certainly purchased a project. 
The eventual grid is a tantalising prospect for tomorrow’s race. Two Ferrari’s and two Williams, out of position at the back of the field, will be looking to make significant progress in the early stages. I would expect them to start on the prime compound tyre in order to jump as many competitors in the opening stint as possible. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton both have work to do after disappointing Saturday’s, (with the latter surly having to be particularly bold in the opening laps), which will make for fascinating viewing. AND, after stating that he wants a British victory this weekend, Jenson Button is right at the heart of the battle and could influence the outcome of the race. Absolutely fascinating. 
Qualifying Result   
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.766
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:37.386 +1.620
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1:38.200 +2.434
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.329 +2.563
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:38.417 +2.651
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.232 +3.466
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.457 +4.691
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.606 +4.840
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:40.707 +4.941
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:40.855 +5.089
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:38.496
12 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.709
13 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.800
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:40.912
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:44.018
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber No time
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:45.318
18 Felipe Massa Williams 1:45.695
19 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:45.935
20 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.684
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:49.625
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:49.421

British Grand Prix: Race Analysis

The British fans were today treated to an enthralling British Grand Prix, packed with controversy, strategy and on track action. Safe to say, it was an explosive race. Lewis Hamilton led Sebastian Vettel early on before he became one of four drivers to experience frightening tyre blowouts which shook the paddock. Teams frantically looked for explanations to prevent the issues and Pirelli frantically examined the suspect rubber. Meanwhile, it was Nico Rosberg who took his third career win despite being moments away from a similar blowout himself as a hole formed on the tread of his left rear tyre, right before his scheduled pit stop. A day of fine margins, but Rosberg came away with a fine result.

It certainly was a classic British Grand Prix, however, it will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Pirelli have been under-fire since the start of the season and the latest twist is sure to turn more of Paul Hembery’s hair grey. Unlike during the early part of the season, Sergio Perez experienced a tyre failure on Saturday morning, yet the steel canvas was not maintained. Instead, the tyre exploded leaving just the hub of the wheel. This was the case with all four incidents today. Firstly, Lewis Hamilton was controlling the race in P1, slowly extending his lead over Sebastian Vettel. Yet on lap 9, Silverstone was stunned as the left rear tyre delaminated in dramatic fashion on the Wellington Straight. 
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident, as just four laps later, Felipe Massa experienced a similar failure of the left-rear tyre. Next came the most terrifying of all – Jean-Eric Vergne’s tyre exploded into a confetti of rubber at the end of hanger straight at 190mph. Kimi Raikkonen who was following close behind was showered in “rubber shrapnel”. With debris strewn across the track, the safety car was called into action. At this point, Charlie Whiting later revealed that he considered Red Flagging the race on safety grounds. “It was quite close to being red-flagged; it did occur to me to do that,” explained Whiting after the race. “We haven’t seen a failure like this before; we have seen other types of failure – and that is what has been addressed. So we need to analyse it very carefully to see if we can establish the cause. It is too early to draw any conclusions. They have a lot of analysing to do, including the tyres that didn’t fail – because maybe we will find something there that was on the verge of failing that will give us a better indicator of what happened.,” he concluded.
Sergio Perez was the final driver to experience a blowout on the Hanger Straight, following the second safety car period. Teams conducted the race in a tentative fashion, warning drivers to stay away from kerbs, while increasing tyre pressures to reduce the contact patch and reduce lateral loading.  
A disgruntled Hamilton had right to feel aggrieved. The race was running smoothly for the Brit before his tyre unexpectedly gave way. Initial speculation would suggest that the issues were not driver related and could not be monitored. “The safety is the biggest issue, it’s unacceptable,” he is quoted as saying by the BBC. “We had that tyre test to improve the tyre and to have four blowouts is unacceptable. It’s only when someone gets hurt that someone will be doing something about it. I think it’s a waste of time talking to the FIA, and if they don’t do anything that says a lot about them.” It has to be noted, that Lewis Hamilton performed admirably to recover to P4. It was a stunning display of overtaking from the Brit, albeit helped greatly by the two safety car periods. His tussle with fellow Brit Paul Di Resta was particularly enjoyable to watch. Paul himself drove superbly to recover from the qualifying calamity to finish in the points yet again.
If you didn’t watch the race, (which I recommend you do), you may be wondering where Sebastian Vettel disappeared to. The German controlled the race following Hamilton’s issue, yet with just 11 laps remaining, he slowed to a stop. The RB9 had suffered a gearbox failure, forcing Vettel to retire. Consequently, the standings have closed at the top, with Sebastian leading by just 21 points. “The fifth gear broke and it was not possible to carry on,” the Red Bull driver said. “It would have been a nice race to win. It’s difficult to feel inside the car what is wrong, and I saw Lewis’s problem with his tyre and we were told to avoid the curb and maintain position. We have to come back again next year and try to win.”
With so much to comment on, including Webber’s fight back to P2, and Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen’s strategy woes, expect more articles regarding this spectacular race to come over the next week, as well as the build up to the German Grand Prix.