Lewis Hamilton dominated the British Grand Prix to take his fourth British Grand Prix win, his third in a row. He did so in front of a capacity crowd at Silverstone and his adoring public revelled in his victory that brings him within a hairs breadth of the lead of the driver’s championship.
The race began behind the safety car, as the unpredictable British summer had left the track soaked after a downpour. The sun had managed to break through the clouds, and while the track was damp, with standing water in some places, Hamilton led the field on lap five as the safety car pulled into the pits. He made a fantastic getaway, and left his team-mate trailing behind him. Rosberg is clearly the lesser of the two Mercedes drivers in changeable conditions, and it was apparent in the opening laps of the British Grand Prix, as it had been at Monaco. Rosberg found himself under attack from Max Verstappen soon after the safety car pitted.
Behind the leading three a majority of the field had followed the safety car into the pits, and shed their wet weather tyres for faster intermediate tyres, as the track had dried so much. Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen were in on the next lap. Rosberg and Verstappen continued to do battle until the Red Bull driver pulled off a stunning and opportunistic move around the outside of Rosberg as both cars went into the Becketts corner.
The track dried to the point that slick tyres could be worn, and the field duly made their way in to fit the quicker dry weather tyres. Verstappen pitted the lap after Rosberg, but the undercut advantage was not enough for the chasing Mercedes driver, who remained behind the Red Bull of Verstappen. Renault driver Jolyon Palmer had a torrid time at his home Grand Prix. Prior to retiring, the Briton was released from his pit-box with only three wheels fitted to his car. He was retrieved by his team while still in the pitlane and a fourth tyre fitted. To add insult to injury he was given a ten-second stop go penalty for the unsafe release by his pit crew.
Conditions were drying but the damp track remained treacherous, with many drivers falling victim to the slippery track at Abbey corner. Hamilton, Verstappen and Raikkonen went off, while drivers such as Alonso, Haryanto and Vettel had big spins. While Alonso and Vettel recovered, the less experienced Haryanto was beached in the gravel.
The off track excursions closed up the front running trio, and Rosberg began to attack Verstappen. After several close attempts and some outstanding defensive driving by the young Red Bull driver, Rosberg found a way past on lap 38. Verstappen remained in touch with Rosberg, as Rosberg began to slowly close the gap to Hamilton who was seven seconds up the road. As the laps counted down to the races’ conclusion, Rosberg began to have issues with his clutch. His team advised him to shift through the gears, and to avoid seventh. Rosberg asked for more detail, and the team duly complied. This was seen by the stewards as a contravention of the newly imposed ban on driver coaching over radio transmissions. Rosberg was penalised by the stewards and was dropped to third in the race classification after following his team-mate over the line. Verstappen was thus promoted to second.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth in the other Red Bull, having a quiet race and staying out of the frentic action elsewhere. Kimi Raikkonen was the lead driver home in fifth, after catching and passing the Force India of Sergio Perez in the dying laps. Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel endured a torrid race, coming home ninth, and incurred the wrath of the stewards after accidentally forcing Felipe Massa wide while attempting an overtake. Vettel was given a five second time penalty for the incident. He finished over five seconds ahead of the car immediately behind him (the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat) and so did not lose a place.
Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were seventh and eighth for Force India and Toro Rosso respectively.
After the race, the Mercedes team explained that they felt their use of the radio to assist Nico Rosberg was necessary, as without receiving such instructions Rosberg’s car was almost certain to fail. Mercedes had intended to appeal the penalty given to Rosberg, but have since rescinded their appeal submission.
Hamilton pulled into parc ferme and bowed to the jubilant crowd. He was thrilled by the win, and his championship charge has been energised by taking a second consecutive victory after the drama of Austria. His win and Rosberg’s penalty means that Hamilton has closed to within a point of his team-mate in the world championship battle that is now looking more one sided as the season progresses. Will Hamilton’s winning streak continue in Hungary, a track where he has taken victory four times?
The Hungarian Grand Prix takes place on the 24th July.