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GP Week : Issue 205
It took a rare (for him) technical glitch to settle the result early, but Nico Rosberg’s half-distance gearbox failure handed a rapturous British crowd just what they wanted – a home win for lewis. At the time, the duo had – again – switched to alternate tyre strategies but, even on the Hard prime tyre, Lewis was looking racy, taking time out of leader Rosberg. On this day, it looked like Lewis’ day – and ultimately it was, easily. Hamilton had made a good start and already gained two spots when Kimi Raikkonen’s nasty shunt stopped it. An hour later it resumed after a Safety Car restart, Lewis made short work of the two McLarens ahead of him, and settled into the opening stint some five seconds behind his team-mate. More than ever, these were the only two in the race – some two and a half seconds a lap faster than anyone else ... Lewis got six more laps than Nico out of his Mediums, switched to Hards, and if anything looked pacier than Nico, who’d stayed on Mediums. Four laps later and the lead Silver Arrows was slowing, Nico running through all sorts of ‘reset’ options to try and get his gearbox to provide some drive, but to no avail. From there, Hamilton was able to cruise. “I was catching Nico in the first stint. I was able to extend my first stint longer than ever before. I was feeling pretty comfortable. Of course, you never want a team-mate to fall away, to win like that. I was looking for ward to a wheel-to-wheel battle but I’m sure we’ll get many in the future.” All that would have improved the crowd’s day was a second Brit on the podium ... and that very nearly happened. Having benfited from the qualifying jumble, and made great starts, the McLaren duo ran 2-3 early on, then 3-4 after Lewis went by. With the Red Bulls having switched to Hards at the restart, their ultimate pace was something of an unknown, so maybe this could be McLaren’s day? Not quite. Valtteri Bottas – starting 14th remember – was pounding through the midfield (as was Alonso). Except on this occasion, the Williams was also looking after its tyres. Valtteri got 32 laps out of his Mediums – and by then he’d gone round the outside of both McLarens, separately, at Stowe, to be well and truly headed for third, which became second once Rosberg was gone. He switched to Hards and made it work – one-stopping his way to his best GP result ever. Drive of the day: “We knew that we had a quick car. Maybe it was a bit surprisingly quick today, but since the first stint the pace was good, since the first lap. I was able to go through the field quite well. Of course, sometimes it needed a bit of risk, because it’s really important to get through quickly and not get stuck behind people, but I really managed to get well in position, where the pace of the car was.’ The other successful one-stopper was Daniel Ricciardo. It wasn’t planned. The Red Bulls switched from Mediums to Hards at the red flag restart, Daniel lost ground early on, but stuck with it until grabbing Mediums on lap 20 (Vettel had gone in early – lap 11). They’d planned a second stop, but the tyres hung in, and so Dan and his engineer took the punt – it got him onto the podium, by a few metres, from a late-charging Button: “Circuits with high-speed changes of direction aren’t really our car’s forte,” said Jenson, “so I think we can go away from Silverstone feeling encouraged by what we achieved this weekend. Specifically, it was great to have such a good fight with Fernando, and it was encouraging to be able to pull away from him and Sebastian in the last stint. “At the end, I crossed the line only 0.9s behind Daniel; if there’d been just one more lap, I think I could have made it past ...” The fourth/fifth battle was the highlight of the second part of the race – Alonso displaying his stubborn, competitive drive by holding Vettel at bay for so long – apparently with fuel/battery problems and a rear wing which was ‘stalling’. In-car cameras – and the high-pitched car-pit conversations – highlighted the intensity of the battle, finally resolved in Vettel’s favour after a strong run up to Stowe. Both were complaining about each other’s use of off-track acreage, and Seb ... well, he was complaining about everything. Wherever he was watching, Mark Webber must have been quietly enjoying it... Kevin Magnussen completed a relatively quite and conservative race in seventh, not quite able to stay in the action ahead. The same went for Nico Hulkenberg: “I was struggling with the balance, which may have been related to the wind because it was very gusty out there. I had some good battles, especially in the early laps, but we were just missing the performance to really fight today. It’s good to score points, but starting fourth we were hoping for more.” The Toro Rosso duo completed the top ten – Kvyat two-stopping to finish ahead of his one-stopping team-mate. Up front, though, the crowd got what it came for – not only did Lewis win, but the margin between the two Mercedes drivers is all but wiped out. There’s everything to play for. Turn 1 – Lewis is already targetting Vettel for fourth. Massa is stranded at the back – and it's going to get worse ... 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SILVERSTONE PARTNERS: