#F1 Race Review: 2015 Formula 1 British Grand Prix Silverstone Hamilton Clutch in Rain

RaceReview
Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

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Results

Once again, in an effort to uncrap itself, Formula 1 has put on a race that featured the pole sitter winning. what no one saw coming was that it would be Massa and Bottas leading into from virtually the moments that the lights went out. That’s right, for the first time this season there was an actual battle between teams for the top of the podium. Sadly for Williams, they were a day late and a dollar short on strategy, as a clever pit stop by Mercedes lap 20 vaulted Hamilton into the lead and really wound up hammering Rosberg, who despite pitting with Massa wound up stuck behind Bottas. Oh and in between there was the safety car restart where Lewis lost P2 to Bottas trying to get round Massa when the Safety Car came in. Having locked up on the inside, Lewis was forced to retake the spot down the start/finish straight and fortunate to be able to do so as the Williams has betrayed the fundamental weakness of the Mercedes: in dirty air Mercedes are every bit as vulnerable as Red Bull in previous years if they are stuck in dirty air.

But that’s not all race fans, in order to keep the race entertaining rain decided to make an appearance around lap 40, immediately prompting Ferrari to make a disastrous call with Raikkonen, destroying his race and costing themselves points as the finn could ultimately only finish 8th. The rain also opened the door for Rosberg who wasted no time in getting past the Williams duo and chasing his teammate down, closing a gap of more than 10 seconds in a lap and half and forcing Lewis to make the decision of his career a last minute dive into the pits on lap 43 that saw him hit the inters at the perfect time. Holy Jenson Button Batman! That choice won him the race.

The rain crippled Williams, however, and Vettel was able to take advantage of the wet to work himself back to the podium leaving Williams to 4th and 5th for Massa and Bottas respectively. Kvyat was the sole Renault engine to finish and Maldonado and Grosjean took each other out with the knock on effect of removing button as well, the carnage from that being the cause of the Safety Car on lap 1.

Not all bad for Macca as Alonso wound up in 10th, garnering his first points of the season, which will be a small grace for them at what amounts to their home race.

The big controversy post race will no doubt be Williams’ attempt to get the drivers to work together in the early laps to get clear of the Mercedes, which went disastrously wrong as Bottas appeared to have more pace but was told to not race, then pass cleanly.

Have at it in the comments and stay tuned for the update!

2015-07-05_Race_GBR15

Review

Prelude
Massive cotton ball clouds in an azure sky gave little hint of the madness about to come in the 2015 British Grand Prix. As always, the gremlins that like to inhabit Silverstone were active, sidelining the Sauber of Nasr on the recce lap. Despite the marshals getting the car back to the pits, it was DOA and as the lights went red, the grid was already down to 19 cars.

Act I

Lights out and straightaway it was obvious that Lewis’ call of no grip from his grid spot was no joke as both he and Rosberg were utterly swamped from the start by Massa and Bottas. In fact, it was wheel to wheel through the third turn before Hamilton was able to take advantage of a door left wide by Valterri and walked right through. Thus they went with Massa leading when the safety car was called for Button who was stranded in the gravel as further back there was some serious carnage with Grosjean off the track and half a lap later Maldonado was told to park it.

Post race investigation reveals that an off camera spin by Ricciardo kicked off the fun, though it’s hard to blame the telly director here as there was an actual fight at the front for a change. Still, would have been nice to see in relay so perhaps it’s time for FOM to loosen the purse strings and buy a few more cameras.

Perez and Hulkenberg both took advantage of the start as well, with Nico up to 5th and Perez into 11th. Both Raikkonen and Vettel lost places as their respective races did not get off to the most auspicious of beginnings.

The fun continued on the restart as Lewis tried to take advantage when Massa got a little sideways coming across the first safety car line but instead of getting by on the inside Hamilton locked up his fronts and wound up going off track, ceding 3rd to Bottas and very nearly letting his teammate by as well. That left Williams in the driver’s seat and Mercedes looking unexpectedly vulnerable to dirty air, kind of like another dominant team in recent years, Hang on, it will come to me any second now… oh yes, Red Bull, there we go.

Speaking of Red Bull, it was Verstappen the first of the Red Bull drivers to exit the race as he lost the car into the Village and wound up in the barriers with no reverse gear, complaining that something was wrong with the car again.

The race rapidly settled as for the first few laps the Merc boys prodded at the Williams and then dropped back a little to save tyres as the straightline speed of the Williams was making it impossible for the Mercs to close up even with DRS. The excitement didn’t flag however as Bottas was continuing to close on his teammate and seemed to have the pace. Williams first told him to work with Massa, then told him to make the pass clean but really by then it was too late as Hamilton and Rosberg were just hanging back like Great Whites just offshore, waiting for the pit stop window to open. In truth, the only chance Williams stood was getting one of their driver’s clear of the undercut. Bottas fans will argue Bottas could have pulled the gap but he also had the advantage of DRS which makes the call a bit trickier. Their best bet would have been the trailing driver actively trying to back the Mercs up, but that sort of teamwork is generally wishful thinking by Team Principals and not so much a reality. The best active bet would have been to undercut Massa with Bottas if they thought he had pace, possibly moving him to a 2 stop. Still, I wouldn’t like to be the one to ask Smedley about it.

Post race the confusion continued as a contentious Smedley actively denied the teammates were told not to race whilst the drivers were simultaneously giving interviews and saying the opposite. Should be fun times tonight in the Williams debrief.

Act II

Ricciardo was first of the 2 stoppers to rock into the pits on lap 12, heading back out on the Hard tyre for a few more tours before his engine decided to turn itself off and hitting him with a loss of power around lap 17 and sending him to the showers early by giving up for good lap 20.

Vettel followed Ricciardo in a few laps later and even Mercedes looked to be bringing Rosberg in before their minds were changed, by what was not reported. It already seemed clear that Mercedes were displaying unusual flexibility by letting their drivers run different spec clutches and apparently being behind has unlocked their strategic freedom as Hamilton closed right up on the Bottas/Massa not quite battle thing and blew everyone’s mind by going undercut lap 19. Raikkonen had shown the way 2 laps earlier by setting fast lap on the hard tyre and Lewis executed to perfection. Mercedes’ pit crew had a blinding 2.4s to help him out and before Massa knew what was up, Lewis was in front as he barely got out ahead of Rosberg (who pitted on the same lap), just getting his nose in front of Nico and having to run the inside line all the way to pit exit before Rosberg let up.

So the middle part of the race was shaping up quite nicely with Ferrari trying to jump Force India with the undercut as and Mercedes trying to get Rosberg to make “Plan B” work, most likely an extra stop for the brand new set of Mediums he had saved from the qualifying session.

Ferrari came good lap 20 when Hulkenberg came out behind both Vettel and Raikkonen. AS they settled themselves back down it was Carlos Sainz who provided the next talking point as he continued Renault’s day of woe by grinding to a halt on the exit of Club, in a rather dangerous position and bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Interestingly, despite the Ferrari lap times being reported as 4 seconds quicker, the gap at the restart was actually a bit wider than when the VSC was enacted.

The big knock on effect from the VSC was to guarantee that the rain would happen prior to the end of the race and happen it did, lobbing yet another grenade into the strategists computers around lap 37, Ericsson, Alonso and Stevens were first to blink, jumping onto the inters lap 39. Ferrari gambled too, tragically moving Raikkonen onto the inters just as Vettel caught him up. As the next laps unfolded it became obvious that though track was incredibly slippery, with both Hamilton and Rosberg having offs, overall the slicks were still quicker.

Quickest of all was Rosberg, who proved genius at maintaining his tyre pressure and temperature in the cool and wet conditions. First he picked off Bottas, then Massa and by lap 43 was on the gearbox of Hamilton who at the very last moment chose to dive into the pits from the lead for inters, a move that stunned the commentariat but in hindsight proved to be perfectly timed. And for the benefit of the comment thread, by all accounts it was down to Lewis who made that choice. By time Rosberg made it round again the rain was coming down hard and he lost the better part of 10 seconds. Williams as well were losers as they had to stack both their drivers and Vettel, having pitted with Hamilton, neatly scooped the last podium position. It was not looking so good for Raikkonen as he had already burned up his first set of inters and would be forced to come back in for a second set.

The biggest sad faced emoji was reserved for Ericsson, who came into early for inters, then chnaged onto slicks and was forced to come back in for inters again. Some days you bite the bear, some days the bear bites you.

In any event with the podium set it was a time of general breath holding to see if anyone else would lose it in the tricky and rapidly changing conditions. More than a few drivers had the occasional off, but on the whole it was kept tidy. Kvyat had a monster run at Bottas who did not seem to be enjoying the wet at all and managed to take a massive 21 seconds out of the Williams man. Valtteri was lucky indeed the checkers fell when they did as with another lap he looked to be easy prey for Kvyat, who proved that it was possible for a Renault engine to finish a race.

Happy days to for McLaren who had no engine failures today, with a bonus that Alonso also scored his first points of the season. Sad for Button though as his first lap crash put paid to any dreams of beating his teammate today, glory being a long gone concept for the suffering pair of World Champions.

And just like that with the Checquers came the sun, shining down on what certainly has to be the most interesting race of the season. Hamilton extends his lead to 17 points and Mercedes total domination campaign comes in for its biggest scare of the season, before coming good with some artful strategy and generally brilliant driving by Rosberg and Hamilton. Ferrari gained some small measure of redemption with Vettel’s podium and Williams will have to console themselves with what might have been’s and the fact that 4th and 5th will give them more points than the 3rd and 8th of Ferrari.

Enjoy the break and anyone putting all 4 off in the comments will have their lap time deleted! Happy arguing!

2015 Constructors' Championship Britain

2015 Drivers' Championship Britain

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69 responses to “#F1 Race Review: 2015 Formula 1 British Grand Prix Silverstone Hamilton Clutch in Rain

    • Post race Paddy Lowe said it was last minute choice by Lewis. He was stuck though, as ROS was all over him. He said he’d lost temp and pressure in his tyres. But yes, in this instance, driver choice.

    • A little thought would show its not strange at all.
      Whoever has the better information makes the call. Sometimes that’s those on the pitwall (who, for instance, are clearly far better placed to call the gaps); sometimes it’s the driver.

      • That was sarcastic. I got shot down here when I said Lewis had a big part in the pit call in monaco. And now they said it was Lewis who made the final call…

        • LOL! And yes, it was independently confirmed from several different team sources that it was Lewis’ call to come in.

          • I guess the smiley face in the first post didn’t make it clear for everyone. But fortis got me, so it’s all good 😂

          • How much of that call was influenced by the fact that Rosberg was about to overtake him if he’d stayed out? – Which would then give Rosberg priority on making the next pitstop first.

  1. Williams showed that they’re not ready for top challenge. Not only the not letting Bottas take lead if he was faster, but than not doing different strategies for the drivers or at least taking a first move to pitstops for Bottas if he wasn’t overtaking. Plus of course for the sabotage of race for the drivers by doing over second slower pitstops.

    Ok the last one is hardly on purpose but you can’t lose that much on pitstop if you wanna challenge seriously the otherwise superior competitor. Or maybe it’s in their engine deal that must be a bit slower than engine provider.

    It’s like even with changing conditions the other teams compete how much their can screw up things to ensure that they’ll don’t disturb the merc dominance. Vettel collects points nicely but after the lucky challenge in Sepang it’s been exactly that just collecting the left overs.

  2. Did Paddy Lowe somehow give Rosberg Hamilton’s clutch, and Hamilton Robserg’s clutch?

    The start was one of the funniest in recent history, with the Merc’s crawling from the line and settling in behind the Williams, the two crash-kids at Lotus taking each other out, and the two WDCs at McLaren having a go at each other, as if their season wasn’t miserable enough…

    • They said it wasn’t the clutch, the grip was really low. The same thing happened in one of GP2 race, the guy in 3rd got the better start and leapfrogged 1st and 2nd place.

      • Stanaway, so we had the iRacing Pro series champion leading the GP2 race in a Status GP2 car! It’s a shame former LFSer Bottas didn’t get the chance to lead the F1 race..

      • The Mercs just got it wrong. Lewis told the Beeb that he had *way* too much torque at the beginning (didn’t check the track surface before line up?). Will be interesting when the teams are no longer allowed to help the drivers with clutch/launch protocols – Spa, I believe.

        • I am thinking the start of races are going to become very interesting.. until they (the engineers not the drivers) figure out how to get the software to “learn” the correct setting and do it without driver input 🙂

    • I reckon they have a competition between the pair of them to see who gets out the car quickest on a race day. Only enjoyment they can get with that useless excuse for a power unit in the back.
      What McLaren would give to even have a Renault engine these days haha

    • Williams were not about to mutter the infamous, “Valtteri is faster than you!” at this stage of the race. I think Williams was caught flat-footed by their 1-2 placement. Pat Symonds told the Beeb (live and in real time as the events were unfolding) that they were analyzing how Mercedes was responding and what the best Williams strat would be. They subesequently told Valtteri to take Massa but he had better, then pull away. I think what Pat preferred was for the Williams cars to support and protect each other, working to pull away from the Mercs. As long as the Williamses were racing, they could not do that.

      One interesting side note: during an interview with Ted during his qualifying notebook, James Hunt’s son said he was astonished at the amount of radio communication he was hearing (1st time in pits, plugged in at Merc). He said that the engineer/driver communication was, literally, “non stop”. He was flabbergasted that that amount of communication was in play. Makes me think that Williams hadn’t really strategized (seriously) what their game plan would be should they ever find themselves in a 1-2 at race beginning. Otherwise, I am certain the “constant radio communication” would have given way to clear, fast team directions of some sort.

  3. As an aside Vettel seemed to gain a lot through the VSC. I’m not entirely sure how it work’s when it’s first brought out but found that interesting. Vettel closed on the Williams by about 10s through the VSC.

    • Really? It seems the whole point of VSC is that gaps are maintained. Hopefully TJ13 can shed some light.

      • haven’t gone back and looked but basically drivers required to stay above delta times for each sector. Watching it was clear that rather than maintain steady speed cars alternate going faster and slower, likely to try and keep operating temps on brakes and tyres. Depending on when it’s called there can be some variance but positions and general gaps seemed to be maintained.

    • Would much rather F1 used slow zones, ala WEC, as opposed to VSC. Let the drivers keep racing on a track like Silverstone (Spa, COTA, all longer tracks).

    • I noticed this too as well. A few drivers seemed to gain, Lewis was another, with the lead stretching out from 4.8s > 7.5s under VSC. I’m not convinced it works properly tbh.

      • The top 4 drivers averted the same lap times. Thought I cant find a lap/by-lap time gap chart, from the 2:12 average time set by the top 4 it seems impossible that Hamilton increased his lead by three seconds during the VSC period.

  4. So I have some questions that hopefully someone can answer.

    1) Who was responsible for the first lap incident that took button/grojo/mal out?
    2) When is Riccardo coming back from his 3 race vacation? (okay that isnt really a question!)

    • Whats really irked Ron is Eddie outing him on Lewis.finally someone acknowledge that Mclaren was running a negative media campayne against LEwis .SPa 2012 was a blatant example of them nobbbling him,then using thier freinds in the press to mock LEwis when they got Button ln front,you should have seen Brundle giggling with Button on the grid ,with their inside joke about stitching up Lewis….
      once lewis anounced he was leaving Button was openly mocking him in the press about what happened in breifings.TEd cravitz had to recant the story,for fear of losing acess

      And Mr nice guy gentleman Button could nt off Lewis the dignity and grace of saying goodbye to the guys he worked with for 5yrs,instead he organize another event,then leaked it to the press to humiliate lewis…….. so reminding Ron how wrong he was,in his grandios arogant proclamation about Lewis,seemto perfectly sum up Mclarens woes……..And it Hurts

      • Do you have any evidence of this? it’s the first I’ve heard of it.

        The comments about Jenson don’t seem right to me, even when Lewis left for Mercedes Jenson still spoke of him highly.

    • Is RD in a position to have a go at the EJiot? Last I heard RD was desperate to borrow £350m to regain control of McLaren. Exactly how is he going to repay that kind of money without a main sponsor for the cars and losing around £50m from the F1 prize fund? Especially when McLaren’s accounts look like this
      http://companycheck.co.uk/company/01887992/MCLAREN-CARS-LIMITED

      How can Honda claim they’re struggling because they were unable to develop the engine? They’ve had plenty of time to build and test engines since they decided to return to F1. McLaren would have known exactly what the engine needed to produce to be up there with the Mercedes. To be over 100hp short is beyond belief.

      • The particularly confusing thing about that is that they could surely have been doing extensive testing/development of the engine before officially tying up their entry into F1? They seemed to massively underestimate what they were dealing with which is inexcusable whichever way you cut it. None of the engine manufacturers were this poor for this long in 2014.

        • Watching TK’s notebook segment, he pointed out that Honda had made no attempt to try and recruit anyone from the 3 engine manufacturers. Apparently it is not their way of doing things, they want to prove to themselves that they can do it without outside help.

          Apparently the head honcho for Honda refuses to give any interview to the English speaking media.

          http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/9904419/ted-kravitz-brings-us-all-the-news-after-the-british-gp

          • Good clip. I like Ted’s notebook, and the camerawork is great – like somebody strapped a webcam on the head of a friendly dog.

          • The attitude of building the knowledge and know-how by themselves is good, but McLaren need a quick fix and going for a Honda engine was anything but a quick fix. Not that I care, I’ve seen over 8 seasons of McLaren shooting themselves and their drivers in the foot and I want to enjoy this for a while still.

  5. So, can ferrari really be angry on Kimi? I think the majority of times that Kimi didn’t perform well was due to a ferrari error…

    • IMO no, Ferrari provoked this by bringing him in for inter too soon. It would seem from post race reporting that he didn’t necessarily want to come in, but likely we’ll have to wait for radio transcripts to try and sort this mess out

      • He looked to be struggling (relatively) when they brought him in. He was passed by Vettel for sure. So his performance in the wet had to be a factor.

        Its a shame since he seemed to have the measure of Vettel in the dry this weekend. Final nail in the coffin? Another great race by Hulk!

    • I had a flashback to China in 2007(?) where they tried the Michel Vailliant strategy for the first time. Somehow Schumi looked guilty then standing on the pitwall… His idea?

      But it gave us lots of oh-so-funny icecream jokes.

    • Raikkonen demanded a pitstop immediately after vettel passed him. He has himself to blame and only himself.

      • Bottas did similar when under pressure from Rosberg. Interesting examples of drivers not thinking clearly under pressure.

        • “Interesting examples of Finnish drivers not thinking clearly under pressure.”

          Better.

        • @thejudge13

          Not sure this is what we take from this. Hamilton did exactly the same, when under pressure from Rosberg. Yet he is revered for the inspired pit stop timing… Was he too not thinking clearly under pressure?

          • Don’t make me say it – you have made your point about Lewis’ claim it was the ‘best’ tyre decision he ever made 😉

            Clearly the end result – justifies the means

          • @thejudge13

            We can at least claim with confidence that this was NOT the ‘best’ tyre decision Kimi ever made…

          • @tj13 so, when you combine Hamilton saying he say the rain clouds coming and that this is his home track/country – every Brit commentator was claiming a hometown weather knowledge, plus Brackley is a mere 10 miles or so from Silverstone, so why should the home driver not have the same advantage? – his decision to pit was a poor one?

            Then ———- Vettel????

          • “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” – Aristotle

            Do you ever tire of the impossible quest to equalise the unequal? Do you feel equal = fair? Answering No and Yes leads to a very unhappy disposition, to say the least – one filled with indignation. It also leads to tyrannical behaviour underpinned by feeling “right”. Answering Yes and No can open a very valuable door. Dismissing the premise… well, that’s the most likely and yet, most terrifying – for me personally.

  6. Well it really goes to show something..give F1 a heritage track and its one of the best races we have had for a bloody long time. I have wrote many thing of how the management could improve F1 but it looks like it boils down to just a couple of things,UN predictable weather and a proper race track rather than these stupid tilka toy tracks. I do tip my hat to Lewis as he really gifted the fans with a great drive and the few laps that Nico closed him down were sublime..just wish Jenson twinkle toes could have played longer and I know I am going to be shot down for this one but…Max needs some more experience as the track and weather looked to have claimed the rookie,again not finishing higher than his quali position ;).

    • I’m not sure the weather played a part in Max’s exit. At that time the track was in perfect condition, he just dropped it all on his own.

      • Cold tyres after the restart,I probably over simplified it by claiming weather(colder than Friday/Saturday) rather than the rain that hit later on 😉

  7. Not sure about the race, because of really poor FOM and BBC coverage. FOM director missed some important things that were mentioned after the commentator looked out of the window. The whole BBC coverage was lacklustre, and lacking in content. In past years teams were queuing up to talk to them. This year it seemed as if people were avoiding them. Even the forum ended early.

  8. Unable to critise Lewis Hamilton, the Daily Heil have chosen to attack the black singer Alesha Dixon for her rendition of the national anthem.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3150239/Gahaad-save-Queen-Alesha-Dixon-hammered-viewers-American-accent-sings-National-Anthem-Grand-Prix-got-lyrics-wrong.html

    Reading the comments, I found this –

    jimmy, Manchester, United Kingdom,
    Bernie must have been noshed off for her to get the gig

    LOL, etc, etc.

    • They’re right, why she was singing the national anthem with an american accent is beyond me. So idiotic.

  9. For once Lewis avoided catastrophe on an intuitive pit call. This is great for his title aspirations and shows he still can improve. It was just a pity Massa lost a podium after being the driver of the weekend.

    • Hah! 3 GPs in a row now: Canada, Austria and now Silverstone. Wow…

      In Kimi vs the Machines, Kimi seems to be losing:

    • Going by forix I’d guess it was the beginning of lap 48. Lap chart shows he lost almos 20 seconds to Perez on the lap alone.

  10. It seems like the Williams chassis wasn’t setup to race well in the wet conditions, either on slicks or intermediate tires.

  11. Has anyone else noticed how TV coverage was poor again? There wasn’t a single decent replay which helped me make sense of the third corner mess. And I barely remember anything from the battle for 5th.

    I very rarely complain about the TV coverage, but this time it was that poor, IMO.

    • Me three. I couldn’t make much of what happened on the first lap, and the coverage director royally missed Raikkonen’s spin on the start-finish straight… What a sham!

  12. Just on another note, am I right in thinking that Mercedes will win the Constructors title at the next race if HAM/ROS finish 1 & 2.

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