Five things we learned from the British GP

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Motorsport.com’s Global Editor-in-Chief Charles Bradley gives his views as Lewis Hamilton equals two legends in the British Grand Prix record books.

1: Hamilton owned Silverstone once more

Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 goes crowd surfing
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 goes crowd surfing

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton’s domination at Silverstone not only put him within one World Championship point of a deflated Sebastian Vettel, it also placed him on a par with legends Jim Clark and Alain Prost with five British GP wins apiece.

He also equalled Clark’s run of four consecutive home wins – quite the achievement.

Days after he was the sport’s ‘villain’ by being the only driver in the current field to skip the F1 London Live demo (prompting cries of “he thinks he’s bigger than the sport”), it was all smiles at Silverstone as gave the crowd what they craved. Here, at least, he can do no wrong.

And while Hamilton’s weekend went like a dream, it was Ferrari’s stuff of nightmares.

Even writing off the late-race tyre dramas to poor fortune, Mercedes was in a league of its own – not even Valtteri Bottas’s lowly start position getting in the way of a 1-2 finish.

Hamilton took pole by over half a second, but his ‘push’ pace before his pitstop was over a second a lap faster than the pursuing Kimi Raikkonen, while Sebastian Vettel got mired behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

That forced Vettel into an early pitstop and undercut, resulting in a hard out-lap that put his soft-compound Pirellis under immediate strain. A huge lock-up at Club Corner while trying to stay ahead of Bottas was perhaps the final straw, his front-left tyre blowing out on the penultimate lap and consigning him to a lowly seventh.

Not only that, Hamilton’s dark mood of the past two races has lifted, and in all likelihood he will equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 F1 pole positions in Hungary.

From there, his momentum might become difficult for anyone to arrest.

2: Pirelli had another Silverstone to forget 

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, with a front puncture
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, with a front puncture

Photo by: Sutton Images

Four years on from a disastrous sequence of high-speed blowouts, that almost ruined the race, Pirelli was back in the spotlight at Silverstone as both Ferraris suffered late-race failures.

However, initial investigations indicated that the problems were not linked: Raikkonen’s was a form of delamination, while Vettel’s was an old-fashioned puncture, potentially caused by his huge lock-up while attempting to defend a podium position from Valtteri Bottas. He’d also been forced into that aggressively-early pitstop/hard out-lap to pass Verstappen.

The front-left cover was always going to be tested fiercely around Silverstone’s high-speed sweeps by this new breed of faster car, with G-forces of over 5G being recorded. But it didn’t look good for either Italian brand – and was hugely costly for Ferrari in both championships as Mercedes was handed a resounding 1-2.

“It was quite sudden when the tyre decided not to take me to the end of the race,” rued Vettel later. “Kimi had something similar with a tyre that was six laps fresher.

“The tyres were on the car for 30-odd laps, but from what we predicted in terms of wear it should have been no problem to carry on. The fact that the tyre blows up came by surprise.”

It conspired to hand Mercedes a huge gift, and puts the onus on Ferrari to respond quickly in Hungary to keep Vettel’s slender advantage intact before the summer break.

3: Verstappen got his elbows out again

 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H

Photo by: Charles Coates / LAT Images

Oh, Max, how we’ve missed you. Some woeful reliability issues have robbed us of Verstappen’s wondrous racing skills in recent weeks, and he made up for it here.

He won his battle with the slow-starting Vettel over the opening corners – helped by Seb’s brakes binding on the startline as they were actually on fire – and then Max proved once again he’s an obstinate opponent to pass once you’re behind him.

Time and again, Vettel probed, but even when it looked like he’d bullied his way past at Stowe, Verstappen – kicking up the dust in the run-off – wouldn’t be denied, and pushed him back just as hard (if not harder) at Club.

It was thrilling stuff, with the crowd loving it, and forced Vettel into an early stop to undercut him. “Hard but fair, I think,” beamed Max, knowing full well that Seb had grizzled about it.

“I don’t take that seriously,” he said of Vettel’s complaint of him moving around in the braking zones. “Especially not after all the things he did. If you look at the penalty points that he’s got…”

Meow!

4: The ‘torpedo’ scored a direct hit

 Helmet design detail on the rear of Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso
Helmet design detail on the rear of Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso

Photo by: Andrew Hone / LAT Images

Daniil Kvyat appears to have embraced the nickname he acquired since Vettel branded him a “torpedo” in the Russian Grand Prix last year.

Not only has he added a caricature of himself riding what can only be described as a cigar-shaped, self-propelled underwater missile, he managed to wipe out teammate Carlos Sainz on the opening lap.

To be fair to Kvyat, Sainz had just lunged him into Copse, so the Russian was only fighting his corner through the Maggots/Becketts sequence, where contact was made.

Despite being given a drive-through penalty for it, Kvyat was having none of the blame and was scathing about his teammate: “In the first four races, when he pushed me off the track, no one told him anything.

“I left him room at Turn 11, and I expected him to collaborate with me also in Turn 12. But this collaboration didn’t happen.

“I believe that these things happen; it’s part of the game. And I believe he should keep his distance from me on lap one in general.”

Sainz would only say: “I think one car lost control and hit the other one. The images speak for themselves.”

With Renault registering a top-six finish, and Haas scoring points more recently than not, it’s a situation that Toro Rosso needs to sort out before any further intra-team clashes prove even more costly in the constructors' standings.

5: Alonso wants a quick decision on engines

 Fernando Alonso, McLaren

Photo by: Andrew Hone / LAT Images

After yet another failure in Silverstone, Fernando Alonso remained consistent in his desire for McLaren to sort out its future regarding engine supply.

After taking another grip drop in Britain – just the 30 places this time! ­– he retired again, this time with a fuel pump issue.

“It's up to them,” he said of McLaren’s future engine decision, “but definitely the sooner you make a decision the better preparation you have for the following year, so I guess they will try to make it an early decision.”

But there was one silver lining to his cloud: Fastest in Q1 – by 1.3s! – on slick tyres on a damp track drew a huge cheer from the Silverstone faithful.

And it’s the sinuous Hungaroring next, where the effect of his power deficit should be reduced somewhat. Fingers crossed he can make it to the finish of that one.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event British GP
Track Silverstone
Article type Commentary