Lewis Hamilton claimed a sensational and emotional pole position in front of his home crowd at the historic Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished second and third respectively; pretty shocked that their super-fast car was beaten by Hamilton’s Mercedes.
While Mercedes’ big upgrades were introduced in Austria, Ferrari waited till Silverstone to debut their big upgrade - a new floor for their racing car. The upgrades worked well and after a drought of 7 years, Ferrari finally managed to clinch victory at Silverstone. Sebastian Vettel claimed his 51st career win in Formula 1; a record he now equals with the French great, Alain Prost.
British GP 'exposes' Team Mercedes
The 2018 British Grand Prix exposed a key flaw in Mercedes’ race team - their repeated inability to react to the Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car period. The error-prone Marcus Ericsson and a battling Carlos Sainz Jr.-Romain Grosjean brought out separate Safety Car periods. Ferrari and Red Bull Racing jumped to this opportunity to pit for fresh rubber while Mercedes chose track position over fresh rubber - a decision that cost them the race win and a double podium finish. In the case of Ferrari, the Safety Car period offered their cars a free second pit-stop; one that wasn’t earlier accounted for and would have made their cars vulnerable to the Mercedes towards the end of the race.
Vettel vs. Bottas battle
Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas’ on-track moves will go down in history as some of the best aggressive and defensive driving tactics of this era. The Ferrari driver had to really plan his moves and after repeated failed attempts, he finally managed to overtake Bottas for the lead. Bottas, whose tyres were older than Hamilton’s dropped from first to fourth position in a matter of few laps as both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen managed to overtake him with much ease.
Too close to call: Nail-biting finish
The 2018 British Grand Prix was one of those rare races where the four fastest cars were separated by only a few seconds as they battled for the race win. Vettel’s win ahead of Hamilton saw him extend his Drivers’ Championship advantage to 8 points. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished a distant 5th, while his team-mate and the winner of the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen, suffered a car failure that led to his retirement.
Best of the rest
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg finished 6th on an alternate tyre strategy combination of medium-hard tyres; the team admitted that the hotter track temperatures in Austria and Silverstone dictated this choice. Although without the Safety Car periods, one wonders if Hulkenberg’s Renault would have finished where it did. But of course, team’s take into account the possibility of a Safety Car period at various parts of the race while determining their strategy. Force India, whose factory operations are less than a 100 metres from the Silverstone circuit, finished 7th and 10th; while Fernando Alonso brought his Mclaren home in 8th, ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in 9th.
What this result means?
The British Grand Prix is home to several teams and two of the most iconic teams Williams and Mclaren had disappointing races; barring Alonso’s lowly 8th place finish. The other controversy that erupted during the race was Kimi Raikkonen out-braking himself at Turn 3 of the opening lap - an error that saw him tag local hero Lewis Hamilton into a spin. Hamilton re-joined 17th but his masterful overtakes saw him climb up to the sharper end of the grid with many laps to spare. In lieu of this crash, Hamilton’s second place finish is commendable; although the ease with which he overtook the other cars displays the pace differential between Ferrari, Mercedes and the rest.
The triple header saw each of the top teams claim one race win each. Up next is the sometimes on and sometimes off German Grand Prix - the home race for Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel. Will Hamilton be able to claim victory for Mercedes and will he be able to halt Vettel-Ferrari’s momentum? While we have to wait for a fortnight for the result, Vettel’s win in the British Grand Prix would have definitely delivered a psychological blow to Hamilton in their nail-biting and season-long title fight.
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