Just when Pirelli appeared to be out of the woods, tires have once again become the focus of the Formula One fraternity after a series of spectacular failures during the early stages of the British Grand Prix.
With conditions very hot at Silverstone, many were expecting tire wear to be higher than usual, but it is unlikely anyone predicted the kind of tire failures that occurred. Lewis Hamilton was the first to lose out after pulling away into the lead from pole position. When going down the Wellington Straight, the left-rear tire of the Mercedes blew out, forcing Hamilton to crawl back to the pits and fall down the order.
Felipe Massa was the next driver to be affected, spinning on the entry to the Wellington Straight and too suffering a puncture. This second blowout signalled to the rest of the field that it was time to pit, with Jean-Eric Vergne being the lead runner in 7th who did not change his tires. As a result, the Toro Rosso suffered a puncture on the entry to Stowe, with the debris left on the racing line warranting the safety car to make an appearance.
Red Bull found cuts in Vettel’s rear tires, suggesting that the failures may be due to the way the kerbs have been cut. Regardless, the drivers may find themselves having to be very careful during today’s race.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.