Scorching temperatures were matched by red-hot track action at Silverstone, as the 2018 British Grand Prix delivered the race in which the 2018 title fight was truly ignited.
Sure, this was round 10 of the season and chief title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had already exchanged top spot in the drivers’ championship on three occasions in 2018.
However, the billed ‘Fight for Five’ – in which four-time champions Vettel and Hamilton would fight each other in a duel to secure a fifth crown – had somewhat been lost in other storylines. Valtteri Bottas has starred, only to be hampered by misfortune. Red Bull has won three races with it’s strongest package since 2013.
These distractions dissolved at Silverstone, replaced by what felt like the first gloves off duel between Vettel and Hamilton. It highlighted and potentially foreshadowed some of the themes that will define the outcome of the championship.
Forget the British Racing Drivers’ Club, Lewis Hamilton is the true owner of Silverstone. The Englishman won his fifth British Grand Prix at a canter last weekend, demonstrating the type of imperious form that the home fans have gotten used to over the past four years.
The triple champ’s snub of the very first F1 Live London event in the build up to the weekend was quickly forgotten. There were no boos for the Brit at Silverstone, as peak ‘Hamilton-fever’ returned.
In fact, having been fortunate enough to spend the entire weekend trackside, I’d be willing to say that peak ‘F1-fever’ has also replaced the pessimism that has previous riddled the sport.
Here are my trackside observations from a thrilling weekend of action at Silverstone.
Following Tuesday’s Silverstone break clause bombshell that threatened to dampen this year’s British Grand Prix, F1 needed a tonic. What a difference a day makes, with Wednesday’s F1 Live in London event delivering a pre-race pick-me-up in some style.
Accessibility on an unprecedented scale, incredible noise and drivers allowed to express their personalities and share an incredible experience with those who consider them superheroes. What’s not to love?
Liberty Media’s mission statement upon arriving on the F1 scene was to create a more immersive sport. Chase Carey – leader of the ‘three wise men’ – referenced his desire to create ’21 Superbowls’ with races becoming week long spectacles which enhance fan engagement and add value for money to the ticket.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone seems to be the first instance of Liberty flexing their creative muscles. This will be a British GP acting as a statement of intent.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is Formula 1’s oldest tradition. The venue held the first ever championship event back in 1950 and in 2017, Silverstone remains at the heart of the sport.
Despite its popularity, however, the event is seemingly in a precarious position. Reports suggest that the circuit’s owners are on the brink of activating a break clause which will see Silverstone’s contract terminated after 2019, as the financial implications of a contract penned in the sport’s previous governance have made the event unsustainable.
The question is whether a new deal can be concocted that will please all parties.
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.
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.