Lewis Hamilton wins his home Grand Prix, ahead of Rosberg and Verstappen.
A sudden downfall of rain prior to lights out left the track drenched and the safety car needed. But the drying track left for drama, with Abbey claiming multiple drivers – including race winning Hamilton and former champion Alonso. While second-placed Rosberg fell victim of the new radio bans as a gearbox issue threatened his podium position.
Five minutes before the start of the British Grand Prix, a sudden downpour left the track soaking wet. With race control calling for the start to be made behind the safety car, even though the sun re-emerged prior to lights out.
When the race did get underway, the slow safety car was causing issues for the drivers. With pole-man, Hamilton, declaring “the safety car’s too slow to get temperature [into the tyres]” and even pushed so hard he nearly crashed into the safety car.
But while the track dried, Vettel reported; “there’s quite a bit of standing water around Turn 8, also on the Wellington Straight”. Causing the safety car to remain circulating Silverstone until lap six, when the 2016 British Grand Prix finally got underway.
A good restart by Hamilton saw Lewis drop Rosberg and the Red Bulls straight away, as 10 drivers immediately pitted for inters. One of the 10 was Carlos Sainz, who nearly found himself hitting Hulkenberg with the Toro Rosso pulling out into the Force India’s path.
When Ricciardo pitted on the following lap, he too nearly caused a pit-lane collision. Luckily Button broke in time to prevent any contact as more drivers took on intermediate tyres.
But before the leading pack pitted, the first driver to retire was climbing out of his car as Wehrlein became beached at Abbey. The first corner remained one of the wettest parts of the circuit as others dried more rapidly, but standing water caused the Manor to aquaplane off into the gravel.
With a Virtual Safety Car out for the beached Manor, the leading pack could pit for inters without losing as much time. A welcome benefit for Sergio Perez who gained six places due to the shorter route.
As the track continued to dry, the other Force India was looking for a way ahead of Bottas – with the Williams beginning to form a queue. Hulkenberg, however, was unable to put the power down out of the corners and remained behind Valtteri as Haryanto span at Club.
A later move by Hulkenberg on the exit of Luffield, as Massa struggled for exit speed, saw the Force India edge alongside the Williams. But a snap at the rear through Woodcote forced Hulkenberg to lift off.
Following his spin, Haryanto was able to continue. But for Marcus Ericsson – after receiving the medical all clear following his heavy FP3 crash – was reporting “something is wrong with this engine”. Ericcson, however, returned to the track following a lengthy pit stop to look into the issue. But the issue remained and he was forced to retire.
All the while, the track began to dry even more. As Verstappen radioed in, “[the] circuit is getting drier now, not slicks yet, but close”. But Vettel was already coming into the pits for mediums as Ferrari made the swap for slicks.
The drying track was also allowing Verstappen to move closer to Rosberg’s rear wing. With the Red Bull quick through sector two and tucked in behind Rosberg into Maggotts, before taking the outside line through Becketts, a quicker line out of Chapel and moved into second place down the Hangar Straight – before both Mercedes’ pitted for slicks.
With the slick tyres, Vettel was flying as he posted the new fastest lap by 5-seconds compared to the best intermediate time. Although as he ended his flying lap, Vettel spun at Abbey after dipping his tyre into the patch of standing water on the entry before running onto the damp astro turf on exit.
In the pits too was Jolyon Palmer. But after the hoard of borderline unsafe releases at the start of the race, Palmer left his box without a right-rear tyre. And despite being pushed back into pit box for the tyre to be attached, the exit without a tyre into a quiet pit lane saw the Renault handed a 10-second stop/go penalty. Although he later retired with a gearbox issue.
Verstappen, rapid on slicks with the damp conditions, was now lapping 1.5-seconds quicker than Lewis out in the lead. But Verstappen lost 2.4-seconds to Hamilton, however, when he went straight on at Abbey after the rear stepped out on him – putting him back into the clutches of Rosberg, who was setting new fastest first and second sectors to keep lowering the fastest lap.
Another man to go off at Abbey was Fernando Alonso. And despite spinning three times after dipping into the slight puddle, running the through gravel and coming to a stop at the service road, Alonso kept his engine running. Allowing him to drive back onto the track via his own tyre marks.
Haryanto, however, did not have the same luck a few laps later as he spun off at Abbey – gently tapping the tyre wall and ending his race.
Shortly after the Manor was cleared from the gravel, Hamilton was next to dip into the water on turn in to Abbey. With the steering correction sending Lewis out onto the runoff like Raikkonen earlier in the race. With Lewis, like Kimi, using the runoff into Village to return to the track, although his lead was now cut down to 4-seconds to Verstappen, despite Max mirroring Hamilton’s mistake.
The mistake by Max did, however, put him into the clutches of Rosberg. And as Nico looked to attack, Rosberg claimed Verstappen was making more than the one defensive move allowed. Before a great exit from Chapel and DRS down the Hangar Straight allowed Nico to shoot around the outside of the Red Bull. Yet the inside line through Stowe for Verstappen kept the Mercedes behind.
Although the inside line through Stowe for Verstappen did not prevent Rosberg taking second place from him a couple of laps later. As the Mercedes swept by the Red Bull down the outside, with Vettel challenging Massa at Village.
But an aggressive line for Vettel saw the Williams forced off the track, with Vettel receiving a five-second time penalty for his defensive aggression. And for Rosberg, late drama struck as he reported a gearbox issue.
Two years ago, Rosberg was forced to retire from the lead of the British Grand Prix as he reported problems with upshifts. And this year, second place was on the line as the team barked “chassis default zero-one” and to “avoid seventh gear”. A decision by the pit-wall that left them under investigation for breaking the radio communication regulations.
The investigation was postponed until after the race, and Rosberg was able to take the chequered flag in second place – just ahead of Max Verstappen. But out in front, Hamilton took the flag for his third successive British Grand Prix victory.
Eventually, after an investigation lasting more than three hours, the FIA reached a verdict over Rosberg’s radio communication. With the stewards handing Nico a 10-second penalty for breaching Article 27.1 – resulting in a loss of time enough to demote Rosberg from second to third.
The updated result hands Verstappen second place, in his third podium in Formula One. While Rosberg’s championship lead over Hamilton is now reduced to the one, single point.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||8.25||18|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||26.211||12|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||1:16.941||8|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||Mercedes||1:17.712||6|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||1:25.858||4|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||1:32.600||1|
|11||Felipe Massa||Williams||Mercedes||1 Lap|
|12||Jenson Button||McLaren||Honda||1 Lap|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||Honda||1 Lap|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||Mercedes||1 Lap|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||Renault||1 Lap|