Lewis Hamilton wins the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
At the home of British motorsport, the British crowd were treated to a British winner as Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory at Silverstone. It was not a race won from pole to flag, as the championship leader overcome a terrible start to win in mixed conditions after rain fell across the track and sprung a set of changes.
Pole at Silverstone is far from as vital as it is at other Grand Prix’s on the calendar, but sure goes a long way to help you secure the win. But even with a change of clutch spring to the one used in the first four races, Hamilton struggled off the line and was instantly mugged by Massa and Bottas. Rosberg also slipped down to fourth while Hamilton regained second.
Further back a calamitous start to the race brought out the safety car when the two Lotus drivers hit each other. With Maldonado and Grosjean making contact, Alonso darted out of the way but found himself hitting Button and ending his team-mate’s race.
Nasr was also out of the race early on but he was unable to join in on the action off the grid after a terrible strike of misfortune when his Sauber stopped at Stowe on his way to the grid. The team had pushed him back to the pit lane but once they fired the engine back up, a mechanical issue in the gearbox stopped him from starting the race.
At the restart, the action got back underway instantly with Hamilton eager to regain the lead. But a lock up into vale allowed Bottas to take second and put Lewis in Rosberg’s sight. Luckily he could defend from his team-mate into turn one and set about catching the Williams duo while further back Verstappen span at turn two with his cold tyres unable to supply the needed grip.
Once Massa completed the first lap of the race, he broke the stronghold held by Mercedes and Ferrari as the only team’s and driver’s to have led a lap in 2015. And over the early laps, Williams looked far from likely to lose that led while they stretched out their lead with their own string of fastest laps.
Vettel oddly may have wished to be in a Williams during these laps as his Ferrari slipped down the order and behind Kvyat and Perez. But as a queue started to form behind fifth placed Hulkenberg, he regained eight from Perez before pitting a few laps later.
Out in front, Massa continued to lead the race but Bottas was visibly quicker than his team-mate and reeled the Brazilian again and again. But Williams felt their best chance of taking the win was for Valtteri not to attack his team-mate and the two of them pull away from the Silver Arrows. Valtteri however knew he had the pace and got alongside Felipe into Stowe before the team allowed him to overtake should the clear and safe chance present itself.
The biggest issue for Williams after this call was that Valtteri could not create a clear chance again and Hamilton lingered within a second behind the Finn. Hamilton on the other hand was sitting comfortably in third before Mercedes called him in to the garage and exited with clear track after a 2.4 second stop. And the clear air allowed him to push hard and undercut both Massa and Bottas to regain the lead while Rosberg scrapped with Bottas for third after the two Williams drivers held the German off after their pit stops.
After Valtteri managed to keep his foot down through the loop in order to keep Nico behind, the two Williams’ fell back from Hamilton out in front but Rosberg was unable to latch onto Bottas’ gearbox to attempt an overtake. But as the laps rolled on, the rain clouds rolled closer to Silverstone.
But while the teams looked and looked again at their radar’s to keep check of the rain, Carlos Sainz pulled onto the run off at Club to initiate a virtual safety car and bring the runners down to just 13.
Once his Toro Rosso was cleared, no driver gained on the restart but the rain had began to fall on the old pit straight and the middle sector became incredibly slippery. With the track conditions changing, Bottas begged for inters but the team held off on bringing him in. And with Valtteri struggling, Rosberg reeled him in a slipped his way in front before gaining and overtaking Massa for second.
Yet even slipping to fourth given Mercedes had better downforce, Bottas still was hanging on to a podium position. Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile had pitted for inters and as the rain stopped, his tyres fell away and he fell down the field.
Unlike Hamilton, Rosberg was flying in the mixed conditions whilst still on the hard tyres and was eating away at Hamilton’s lead as if he had no wheels on his car. In fact, Lewis felt the same as Kimi and darted to the pit lane – as Rosberg got within touching distance – to take on the intermediate tyres.
At first it looked like a terrible call but 10 second later, the heavens opened and Hamilton had taken on the inters at the exact right time. Rosberg, Massa and Bottas however stayed out the extra lap and by the time they pitted, Vettel was on the inters and capitalised like Rosberg had when the rain first fell to move up to third, leaping both Williams drivers who had looked they could challenge for the win.
Manor’s Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi had joined Raikkonen in the pits in the initial rainy stage alongside Ericsson and Alonso but as the race approached the end, their tyres were shot. Worse for Will while he was running in a career high position, he span at Brooklands to remove the front wing from his car. Alonso meanwhile had his McLaren in the points despite the weekend looking like they would struggle just to finish the race. Now they were focusing on keeping the car going forwards and staying ahead of Ericsson for 10th.
But regardless of what Manor and McLaren were aiming for, Hamilton was out in front by miles and took the chequered flag to win his third British Grand Prix. In leading the race he also broke Sir Jackie Stewart’s 45 year record for leading 17 races in a row!
When he took the chequered flag, Vettel had moved 10 seconds clear of Massa for the final podium position and despite a great start, Williams had to settle for fourth and fifth after looking likely challengers for the win before the rain fell. Bottas also almost fell down to sixth as Kvyat closed him down to just seven tenths of a second by the end of the race.
Raikkonen’s mistake to take on the inters during the first spat of rain meant he finished in eighth and a lap down whilst his team-mate stood on the podium. But two places back, Fernando Alonso captured his first point of the season to bring a slice of joy to McLaren’s weekend.