Fernando Alonso produced a scintillating drive in a ‘battle of the champions’ as he and Sebastian Vettel fought wheel to wheel for the final third of the race.
Silverstone – Today’s race will be remembered as a real F1 classic, in which much of the excitement was provided by Scuderia Ferrari. Unfortunately, not all of it was positive, as Kimi Raikkonen was involved in a very scary accident on the opening lap: the Finn limped away to be checked in the medical centre. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries. As for Fernando Alonso, he produced a scintillating drive in a ‘battle of the champions’ as he and Sebastian Vettel fought wheel to wheel for the final third of the race. In the end, the Red Bull driver just got ahead, as the Ferrari man’s tyres were older, to claim fifth place. The British crowd got what it wanted, in the shape of a home win for Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas was heroic in taking his Williams from 14th on the grid to second place, and joining them on the podium in third spot was the ever-consistent Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.
Having qualified 19th and 20th yesterday, various penalties saw Fernando promoted to sixteenth on the grid, one row ahead of Kimi in eighteenth. The Scuderia duo were the only drivers to start on the Hard tyre. There was a crash on the opening lap, as Kimi ran wide onto the Wellington Straight using the run off area on the outside of the corner. As he rejoined the track, a rut between the grass and the tarmac spun his F14 T around, so that it hit the right hand barrier very hard, bounced the car back across the track and into the path of Felipe Massa in the Williams. The Brazilian’s 200th Grand Prix was over and Ferrari’s Finn can be grateful for Felipe’s lightning fast reactions avoiding a far worse impact. Kimi was helped out of the car and was clearly limping and in pain. The race was red flagged and by this stage, Fernando had moved up two places to fourteenth and he switched to the Medium tyre during the wait.
Almost an hour after the original start, the race was on again, with Fernando in 13th place. At the front, Magnussen came under pressure from Hamilton, ran wide, promoting the Mercedes man to third. Fernando passed Gutierrez and was now 12th. The Spaniard then charged past Sutil at Brooklands, followed by Chilton to get into the top ten.
On lap 6, Alonso passed Kvyat to take ninth. Ricciardo tried to pass Hulkenberg at Stowe, which allowed Fernando to get ahead of the Red Bull at Vale and then set off in pursuit of Hulkenberg. He duly got ahead of the Force India, just as the stewards announced he was under investigation for allegedly being in the wrong place on the grid at the first start. It seemed not the entire car was within the grid slot.
Fernando came in on lap 25, with the crew waiting the compulsory 5 seconds to take the penalty, prior to changing tyres, fitting a new set of Mediums, after which he rejoined ninth. The Spaniard then dispensed with Hulkenberg to go back to eighth and he moved up a further spot next time round after Magnussen pitted the McLaren.
On lap 28, Rosberg slowed dramatically and stopped, so that Hamilton now led, with Bottas second and yet to change tyres. Vettel and Ricciardo were third and fourth, with Button fifth ahead of Fernando. Vettel pitted from second on lap 33, coming out in fourth place on fresher rubber than Fernando, who was right behind him. The man from Oviedo pulled off a very brave move to go past into Copse, to take fifth, but Vettel closed the gap and got past at Brooklands, before Fernando immediately muscled his way back ahead again. The Fernando-Vettel battle continued to thrill the crowd, especially on lap 48 as they were wheel to wheel for several corners, before the Spaniard had to give best to the German. From then on their positions remained unchanged to the chequered flag.
The championship now moves to Hockenheim, Germany in two weeks time, when Kimi is expected to be fully fit and ready to race alongside Fernando.
Marco Mattiacci: “The most important news right now is that Kimi is alright, even though the impact with the barriers was a heavy one. He has some bruising and will now be resting to be in shape for the next race. Given the outcome of qualifying, we knew we faced an uphill struggle in the race, but we could count on having a race pace that would allow us to try and get back in the points. On this front, Fernando lived up to our expectations, pulling off some memorable overtaking moves. I think that, with fewer problems and without the penalty for his start position, he could have got better than sixth. His great climb up the order was yet more proof of his extremely aggressive mentality, which is exactly what we must demonstrate for the rest of the season.”
Fernando Alonso: “I think today’s race was very spectacular, certainly for us it was extremely hectic, first with Kimi’s retirement and then with the penalty for being out of position at the start. Then there were also my duels with Button and Vettel. When Sebastian came up behind me I was saving fuel and battery power and had a problem with the rear wing so I knew that sooner or later he would have overtaken me. I think both Red Bulls deserved to finish ahead of us, because they were quicker. Now we must analyse our performance and try to improve for the next round in Germany: if we want to make up ground in the Constructors’ Championship, we must try and do our utmost at the track, working on strategy, set-up and especially we must try and be more astute than the others, when it comes to grabbing any opportunity to score points.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Unfortunately, my race today ended on the first lap, after I had managed to get away well, making up enough ground to be fighting for eleventh place. At turn 5, I went off the track and while trying to get back on, I must have hit a kerb. I then lost control of the car and ended in the barriers. It’s a real shame because yesterday, the feeling I had on track had improved and I was determined to do my utmost to bring home some points. I am really very disappointed with how things went today, but now I want to put this incident behind me and just concentrate on the next race in Germany.”
Pat Fry: “As we were starting from sixteenth and eighteenth places, we opted to start on the Hard compound and go for a more aggressive strategy. The aim was to have a short first stint before switching to the softer and faster tyre for the rest of the race. Kimi got a great start, making up several places in just a few corners but unfortunately his accident put an end to it all. Fortunately, he is okay, with no serious injuries and that’s the most important thing. After the race was stopped, we discussed things with Fernando and decided to fit the Mediums to the end of the race, with a one-stop strategy. Despite the difficulties he had to deal with, Fernando once again displayed his great talent, both on the offensive and the defensive. At some points in the race, there was clearly some frustration, which is completely understandable, because the entire team wants to give him and Kimi a more competitive car and for that reason, we will continue trying our hardest.”