Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
The mischievous and capricious Gods of the Race were out in full force today round Silverstone as the mixed up grid finally delivered the exciting race that had been promised. Having decided that Lewis Hamilton had suffered enough, they first struck Sebastian Vettel with a dart at the start gaining the Briton 2 places before the race was put on hold as Raikkonen, deemed unrepentant was hit with a bolt of thunder and sent spinning across the track after an off, collecting Massa and Kobayashi on his way and giving the crowd a genuine scare. Kimi was visibly shaken as he emerged from the cockpit after a vicious crash into the Armco at the end of his adventure. Fortunately he was not seriously injured and returned to the garage after a lengthy visit to the medical facilities.
The race restarted nearly an hour later and Hamilton immediately took advantage of his gain to take Magnussen and less than a lap later Button. Massa was dealt with cruelly as he was unable to make the restart of his 200th Grand Prix, but his teammate was rewarded with an electric drive through the field from 14th to 4th in a matter of laps. Not far behind Alonso too had the waves part for him as he displayed every last bit of the clinical skill for which he is renowned.
Differing tyre strategies at the restart layered the field with the two stoppers carving through the field as the one stoppers carefully conserved. By the middle of the race runners were finding their true position and the battles were beginning in earnest. Hamilton tracked down nearly 5 seconds from Rosberg before his pit-stop but elected to keep his own counsel and stay out, despite losing time, to shorten his stint on the hards. Behind, Bottas continued to keep the TV cameras interested as he took P3 from Button, and Ricciardo began to make his way back up the field following his first stop.
The Gods continued to Smile Down on Lewis as he discovered, much to his surprise, that the Mercedes was virtually as fast on the Hards as on the Mediums, if not faster. Not an easy question to answer as the Gods, in their tender mercies, awarded Rosberg a big box of neutrals a short while later, handing the easy win to Hamilton .
The best was saved for the fans though, as their devious nature had brought Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso into mortal conflict for 5th place. In an epic battle over 14 laps, worthy of the tender ministrations of Homer himself, the pair traded places for multiple breathtaking laps, eliciting screams, groans, shouts and cheers; extending to the stewards as both drivers took vociferously to the radio to complain bitterly about the other’s driving, before Vettel finally made it stick on lap 48, making the fans forget they had been deprived of a Rosberg-Hamilton duel.
Not content The God of Racing Humor decided to enliven the last laps by breaking pieces of Maldonado’s car and causing the engine to give up. And the crowd were rewarded with a bit of magic once again as Button was given one final, tantalizing chance to gain the podium as he desperately tried to track down Ricciardo running on Mediums that were 36 laps old at the end of the race. Button was cruelly denied his palmares as the Fates decided the sunny Australian was more deserving crossing the line less than a second in front of the McLaren and sealing one of the most epic races in many a season and definitely the best of this season.
Under a Ham and Egg Sky and with a completely dry track the British Grand Prix already began to deliver on its thrills as the relentless anxiety of the start began to waft through the crowds. Lewis had an early moment as he radioed in smoking brakes at the end of the pit lane, but he duly carried on under orders and made the race start. Bianchi suffered problems as well and Marussia made good and got him out of pit lane in time for the start. Gutierrez having changed a gearbox in Parc Ferme´ was handed a 5 spot penalty further scrambling an already confused grid.
As the lights went out Vettel immediately drove straight backwards as both Button and Magnussen got off the line quickly and Hamilton despatched Hulkenberg and immediately began lining up Vettel. After a short dance and a little wheel banging he was by but the big action was at the back of the field as Massa had suffered a clutch problem that made him look worse than Webber at the off. But it was Perez and Vergne first to litter carbon fibre over the track into Abbey as the contact spun off.
The Ferraris too made an excellent start and as Massa threaded his way past the Caterham, Kimi went very wide into the Wellington straight. Attempting to rejoin at speed he missed the concrete apron with the rear of the car and was launched by the drainage ditch into a scarlet missile. As he spun across the track he managed to collect both Kobayashi and Massa, though adroit driving by the pair prevented serious injury, it was not enough to save their cars and both Massa and Raikkonen would be done for the day.
Eerie moments, as the crowd waited for Kimi to climb out of the cockpit and the race was red flagged. He did, with assistance, but was visibly limping though Medical Control later confirmed it was severe bruising and Raikkonen returned to the pits for the remainder of the race.
1 hour later, and after many rules explanations, the race was restarted under the safety car, meaning places gained would be kept but the red flag allowed several teams to switch their tyre strategy. Vettel and Ricciardo – chief among them – strapped on the hard boots whilst Lewis received a message to do a launch when the safety car pulled off.
The departure of the Safety car saw Bottas immediately past Kvyat and Hamilton all over Magnussen. Magnussen went wide watching his mirrors and Hamilton was by and after Button in P2 as Rosberg was already several seconds up the road.
Bottas continued his push passing Ricciardo for 7th on Lap 4 as Alonso passed Gutierrez and began lining up Sutil for 10th. Hamilton chased Button into Brooklands and his old teammate put up nary a challenge, wisely focusing on his own race as Hamilton flashed through and began the real business of attempting to salvage his World Championship hopes.
Rosberg appeared most uncooperative, matching Hamilton’s pace roughly 5 seconds up the road. As the status quo was maintained, Alonso stealthily made his way into the top 10 and with Alonso, Kvyat and Ricciardo all now running within one second of each other there was no shortage of action on track. Alonso made a beautiful pass on Kvyat for 9th as Ricciardo tried and failed to get round Hulkenberg then was further wounded as Alonso got past him and began to work Hulkenberg into position. A little further up Button, Magnussen and Vettel all settled into a steady rhythm as the pair of Mercedes put 2.5 seconds a lap on the rest of the field.
Alonso, having regrouped, tried a move on Hulkenberg into Vale, but the very wily Hulkenberg defended. The unwelcome news also came through that Alonso would be investigated for being out of position on his grid spot at the start. Perfunctory, as they had the picture and it wasn’t long before a 5 second stop and go was announced.
Undeterred Alonso continued his campaign against Hulkenberg and finally succeeded into Brooklands as Bottas caught up to Vettel and began to put the 4 time WDC under increasing pressure on lap 9.
Having seen the example of Alonso, Ricciardo began to have a serious crack at the German, causing Hulkenberg to run wide at turn 9 and risk the wrath of Charlie, but no matter as Ricciardo completes the pass and goes clear. Taking advantage of a momentary lapse in action, Gutierrez inexplicably drives directly into Maldonado, launching the Lotus spectacularly into the air, a moment that delights the TV director as we are treated to several replays in spectacular slo-mo as the race continues. Appropriately Gutierrez is done and beached and as his car is recovered under yellow, Vettel pits on lap 11 to ditch the Hards and go back to the Mediums.
Rosberg, having held Lewis off for a while, was slowly beginning to lose time to his teammate as Ericsson suffered suspension damage and slowly crawled his Caterham back to the garage.
The radio continued to make the race interesting as Rosberg was told he was on his fuel target with none to spare with his teammate inexorably closing in on him. As TV viewers were treated to the most spectacular shot yet of the Flying Lotus, Bottas continued to demonstrate how much he deserved his drive by taking P4 from Magnussen into Stowe.
Hulkenberg’s woes continued as he was warned for violating the track limits at Copse. Magnussen was going from the frying pan to the fire as he struggled at the end of his stint, with Alonso taking massive chunks of time out of him. And on lap 16 the inevitable, as into Stowe Alonso firmly put the lad in his place. In the exact same place, Vettel, working his way through the field, went past Hulkenberg.
Not to be outdone, one lap later, Bottas took 3rd from Button, again into Stowe, having a fantastic drive and pulling the load for Massa as well. Rosberg, meanwhile, was beginning to lose the battle with Hamilton but the team simply told him to push as it wouldn’t be long.
Lap 18 saw Ricciardo passing Sutil for 9th as Hamilton was well within sight of Rosberg and smelling blood at 2.5 seconds. Bonnington gave him the obligatory Hammer Time message and it’s on – as Rosberg takes to the pits for new tyres.
Rosberg emerged a safe P2 as Bottas slid all over Brooklands but insists to his team that his tyres are easily good for another 10 laps. Hamilton continued to push and for the moment matched the pace of his teammate on new tyres as Alonso struggled to find a way around Button, who seemed rather immune to his tactics.
By lap 21 Hamilton began to lose time to Rosberg, but stayed out, confirming that he was on a different strategy to Rosberg. More chillingly, Rosberg radioed in trouble with his downshift which Mercedes confirm. Ricciardo passed Hulkenberg into Brooklands as it became apparent that the lengthy first stint for Hamilton was likely to limit his time on the hards and leave him with a fresh set of fast tyres for the end of the race.
By lap 24 the game was up and Hamilton prepared to pit next lap while Alonso continued his fruitless efforts to outsmart Button. Hamilton emerged on the Hards almost 6 seconds clear but with good pace. Button found it necessary to point out Alonso’s frequent track limits violations, but Vettel provided some action by passing Magnussen into Copse for P6.
Alonso yielded the field next lap and served his 5 second penalty as Hamilton began to make the damage up by setting a fastest lap on hards, closing down on Rosberg at an alarming rate. Button’s complaints apparently having been judged valid, Alonso was shown the black and white flag for driving standards, not a regular thing but delightful to see.
As Hamilton closed on Rosberg at over a second a lap the lack of pace from Rosberg confirmed that his gearbox was giving him more, rather than less trouble. Lap 29 was the end for Nico as his gears turned to mush and despite his desperate pleas to the garage to give him anything to get the car to the end they had no answer and he rolled slowly through Maggots and Becketts finally coming to a gentle stop on the grass. There he remained for another 2 laps until the marshals finally forced him out of the car. Hamilton cruised on, significantly more than a pit stop ahead of Bottas and no real competition left on track, bit of a tragedy really as it was shaping up to be a fascinating race at the end.
Lap 32 saw Bottas pit, emerge behind Vettel and rapidly move past him through Stowe as Vettel took his second pit stop, emerging in 5th place barely ahead of Alonso and Magnussen. All three wasted no time getting into it as Alonso came out ahead after a stonking move on the outside of Copse. Vettel, not one to take such things lightly caught Alonso on Lap 36 and began his epic multi-lap campaign to take the position back. With the pit stop of Bottas, Hamilton was 40 seconds up the road and probably playing Mario Kart on his steering wheel. With the Hards outperforming expectations he was relegated as all attention focused on the battle between Vettel and Alonso, one of the hardest fought and most exciting in a long, long time.
Lap 38 saw Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Button, Alonso and Vettel in the top spots as several times Vettel had his nose in on Alonso, but with the Spaniard firmly closing the door Vettel was forced to back out or collide, prompting angry calls from Vettel over the radio. As the attempts intensified, both took to violating the track limits and becoming increasingly desperate to keep the faster Vettel behind, Alonso began dragging every trick out of his bag. Strategic slowing, apex pinching wheel to wheel lap after lap the pair mesmerized the crowd, with a raw display of talent and nerve. By lap 43 both were on the radio complaining of each other’s naughty behavior as it was clear that it was more than just places at stake, but it was intensely personal for both drivers. Button was told to track down Ricciardo as it had become apparent that the Australian had been moved to a one stop strategy and with his tyres 23 laps old a chance still existed for Button’s first ever podium at Silverstone.
But it was still the Alonso and Vettel show as the fireworks continued and Hamilton seemingly wasn’t even racing anymore, so long had it been since the distinctive silver livery graced the viewer’s screens. Lap 47 showed Vettel going 4 wheels off though Club and inching closer and closer to Alonso down the straight. It was to be the next lap, however that seared deep into the primal lizard brains of true race fans as Vettel finally got properly alongside Alonso and for 4 straight corners they ran side by side until finally Vettel stuck the knife firmly in – going through Chapel leaving Alonso to furiously accuse him of illegally using DRS to get past all the way to the end of the race. Regardless of which driver or team you support, that’s the kind of racing one wants to see every race and that’s the kind of racing that *will* keep fans coming back. If you weren’t on the edge of your seat for that, it might be time to check for a pulse.
A quick disaster for Maldonado on lap 51 as his engine started smoking and bits and pieces appeared to be falling off and all that was left to see was if Jenson could finally achieve his podium. Going in to the final lap he was slightly over a second off and making up ground at almost exactly that rate, so the director helpfully showed Lewis swanning about and crossing the line so far ahead of Bottas that viewers had time to get up for another cup of coffee before he came into view. Then the camera hung breathlessly on empty track for agonizing seconds before Ricciardo sprang into view with Button hanging off his gearbox. That was the way they crossed the line with Vettel, Alonso, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Vergne rounding out the points positions.
It’s one for the record books too as Hamilton ties Sir Jackie for wins and now sets his sights on Nigel Mansell. With the WDC near parity at the top and the feud between Alonso and Vettel reignited – race fans have much to look forward to over the long hot summer, though it will take a lot to top today’s spectacular racing.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:38.993||46.400||1|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:37.481||53.500||2|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:38.625||88.200||1|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:38.452||88.800||2|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:40.062||101.000||1|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:40.039||108.800||1|
|12||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||1:38.996||1 lap||1|
|13||Adrian Sutil||Sauber||1:43.747||1 lap||1|
|14||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||1:39.961||1 lap||1|
|15||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham||1:45.931||2 laps||2|
|16||Max Chilton||Marussia||1:40.399||2 laps||2|
|17||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||RETIRED||3 laps||1|
|R||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||RETIRED||24 laps||1|
|R||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham||RETIRED||41 laps||1|
|R||Felipe Massa||Williams||RETIRED||52 laps||1|
|R||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||RETIRED||52 laps||0|
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