The tedium of late has finally been broken by an exciting race featuring crashes, battles, adverse weather and a resurgent Williams team. But even so, it wasn’t the best British Grand Prix that you’ve seen in the last few years…
2013 – TJ13 reader score – 8.11
The British Grand Prix tends to throw up exciting races and few more so than the 2013 edition, with your average score being over 8, higher even than this year’s stellar event. The race was full of drama and controversy. Hamilton led from the start, with Vettel close behind after slow starts from Rosberg and Webber.
The tyres that Pirelli had brought were too fragile for the conditions and the demands put on them by the high speed corners and sharp kerbs. Lewis was leading by a small margin over Vettel when his tyre delaminated and ruined his chances of taking a home victory. He managed to crawl back to the pits with three wheels on his wagon and rejoin towards the back of the pack.
Two laps later, Felipe Massa’s Ferrari suffered the same fate and the Brazilian spun off the road. This was followed shortly by Jean Eric Vergne who’s tyre exploded, throwing debris over the track that hit Raikkonen on the helmet. This brought out the safety car while the shrapnel was retrieved.
At the restart Vettel scampered off into the distance, only to retire with 19 laps to go with a gearbox failure, his first DNF of the season. Rosberg inherited the lead and was hounded by Mark Webber to the flag. Alonso and Hamilton made fantastic efforts to climb the field with overtakes and with new rubber passed Button, Ricciardo, Sutil and Raikkonen to finish third and fourth respectively. Massa’s recovery drive to sixth was also particularly impressive, after being dropped to last after his tyre failure.
2014 – TJ13 reader score – 7.13
The excitement of the race was slightly tempered after a dramatic first lap crash for Kimi Raikkonen, who ran wide on the Wellington straight. He bravely (and in hindsight somewhat foolishly) kept his foot buried on the throttle. When he attempted to rejoin the track he was caught out by a bump that pitched him hard into the barriers. The race was delayed for an hour while extensive repairs were made. When the race was eventually restarted, Nico Rosberg led comfortably but retired from the lead with gearbox trouble, handing the victory to Lewis Hamilton for his second win on home turf. Valterri Bottas stated 14th on the grid but scythed through the field to finish an excellent second. Jenson Button has never finished on the podium in Britain but came agonisingly close behind Daniel Ricciardo for fourth.
Behind them, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel enjoyed an epic battle at high speed, with often only inches separating their cars. After switching places multiple times over a very exciting few laps the German won out and finished in 5th position.
2015 – TJ13 reader score – 7.83
Lewis Hamilton won the race from pole position, but it was far from an easy feat for the home favourite. Both the Mercedes cars were outdragged off the line by the customer Williams duo of Massa and Bottas. It seemed that the Finn was so excited to be there that he forgot how to race and left the door wide open for Hamilton to slip back through in the complex.
After a safety car period to reclaim the stricken Toro Rosso of Sainz, Hamilton made a switchback lunge down the outside into the Club chicane. He was over-aggressive locked up his brakes and after running off the circuit was passed by Bottas and had to defend hard against Rosberg.
Massa led the Williams pair, but Bottas was clearly the faster of the two. The team initially made the decision to hold station and pull away together, but realising that Massa would hold them both up they reversed the decision to stop Bottas from challenging. The short time between these conflicting orders from the pits meant that Bottas was denied his best opportunity to pass and had to tuck in behind. The Williams boys were unable to pull away and an exciting battle was in store.
Sadly this prospect was slightly neutered by yet another poor strategic decision from the Williams pitwall, who stopped for new tyres a lap too late, allowing Hamilton to breeze past on the undercut. Rosberg was not so lucky, having second choice on timing of his own stop and was unable to take advantage to leapfrog past.
The race had settled after the pitstops with the Mercedes-Williams sandwich going stale. This was until the rain came to add yet more intrigue to the situation. The Williams chassis with inferior downforce does not suit wet conditions at all and neither driver was a match for Rosberg and even Vettel once the track became slippery.
Rosberg seemed much more adept at keeping temperature and pressure in his tyres in the cool damp conditions as he sailed past the Williams and cruised up to the back of Hamilton by almost two seconds a lap. Hamilton, clearly about to lose the lead dove into the pits and gambled on a set of intermediate tyres. This choice looked foolish for all of ten seconds as the heavens suddenly opened and made him look a genius. The result was Lewis’s third win on home soil.
TJ13 Driver of the weekend – Lewis Hamilton
The call seemed to provide some retribution for the poor tactical decision making in Monaco and saw Lewis take a very popular third British Grand Prix victory. One slight mistake from the organisers was preventing the jubilant fans from running onto the track until the anthems were playing, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the British crowd welcoming home their hero. He also romped home for top honours in our poll, with nearly 50% of the votes.
You, the jury, seemed to be more impressed with Massa’s performance than Bottas and voted the Brazilian a distant second, just ahead of Vettel in third. He benefitted from the rain to sweep past the Williams into the last podium position, but on a dry track the Ferrari looked struggle in comparison to the Williams this weekend.
Hulkenberg finished seventh on the road and fourth in your standings, still enjoying the buzz from his Le Mans victory and shading his teammate once again.
An enforced early summer break due to the cancellation of the German Grand Prix will allow many to chew the fat over what went wrong for Williams, but let’s hope that the next time out in Hungary is just as exciting!