Briton delights Silverstone fans in dramatic event
Sam Bird brought more cheer to the already ecstatic home fans with a dominant run to victory in this afternoon’s feature race in Silverstone. The Englishman looked unstoppable as he eased away from his rivals to take an emotional win from Stephane Richelmi and teammate Thom Dillman.
The one moment which didn’t go to plan for Bird was the start, when he was slow off the line and could only watch as Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr tore away as the lights went out. But it was only a few corners before the pair tripped over each other, which cleared the way for Bird to lead Stefano Coletti past the pair, with Richelmi, Mitch Evans and James Calado following behind them.
Ericsson was all over the back of Coletti as the latter headed into the pits on lap 6, along with Nasr and Calado, forcing the Swede and Bird to come in next time by to cover: the Briton was easily out ahead, while Ericsson saw Coletti blast by upon his return to the circuit on his way to the fastest lap of the race so far, 1 second faster than Bird and closing fast.
The problem for Bird was that he had to overtake drivers who hadn’t yet stopped, drawing attention to the battle behind them which made the Monegasque driver’s job substantially easier, and when Richelmi finally pitted from the lead, he emerging right behind his countryman on fresher tyres and looking for more. But he wasn’t the only one with his eye on a podium.
Evans emerged from his late stop into the same battle, and looked to have come out on top when he blasted by the Monaco pairing, only to have to give way for a stop go penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Richelmi’s fresher tyres showed when he blew past his countryman at Club on lap 19 and headed off in a futile chase after Bird, just as Thom Dillmann finally pitted from the lead.
With fresher rubber than anyone, the Frenchman made mincemeat of his rivals and was soon hounding Coletti for the final podium spot: the points leader made a brave attempt at holding on, confounding Dillmann until just two laps to the end, when a huge lock up in Club saw Coletti run deep and the Frenchman through and, to rub salt into the wound, a coming together with Fabio Leimer a few corners put Coletti out of the race entirely.
With everything shaken out, all eyes turned back to race winner Bird, who eased off to cross the line 2.4 seconds ahead of Richelmi, with teammate Dillmann leading Leimer, John Lancaster and Jolyon Palmer across the line, with Rio Haryanto claiming P7 from Julian Leal, an embattled James Calado and Alexander Rossi back to the pitlane, with Bird reflecting Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton’s earlier pole position in F1 to make it an all English Saturday at Silverstone.