Home hero Hamilton claims brilliant British GP victory

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SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND – Six years to the day after his first victory at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix for the second time after teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg retired from the race due to a gearbox problem.

In a race that was red flagged for almost an hour following a crash on the first lap, Hamilton fought his way up from sixth place on the grid to run second to Rosberg before the German driver retired with 22 laps remaining.

Valtteri Bottas backed up Williams’ great result in Austria with a mesmerising drive through the field, finishing second after starting way back down in 14th place. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo perfected a one-stop strategy to finish the race in third place ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, who equalled his best ever result at Silverstone.

After the original start, everything quickly came to a halt when a huge accident involving Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa brought out a red flag. The Finn touched the grass when coming onto the Wellington Straight, causing him to crash into the wall on the right hand side of the track with some force.

The car then careered back across the circuit, leaving Massa with nowhere to go despite his best efforts to avoid the Finn. Raikkonen limped away from the wreckage, and was transferred to the medical centre for examination where he was found to have nothing more than some bruising to his knee and ankle.

The stewards deployed the safety car at first, but then chose to stop the race due to the damage caused to the guardrail on the Wellington Straight. Amid the chaos, Max Chilton had pitted for repairs, but earned himself with a drive-through penalty for doing so after the race had been suspended.

The repair work to the barrier took almost an hour, but the race was then able to restart under the safety car with the drivers in the positions that they were upon the red flag.

Rosberg made a perfect restart to open up a four second gap over Button after the first green flag lap, but the big mover was Hamilton. The Briton dived past both of the McLarens within two laps of racing, and quickly set his sights on the other Silver Arrow at the front of the field.

Valtteri Bottas quickly made up for his poor qualifying result, charging through the field to rise to third place. Fernando Alonso looked to follow suit, but the Spaniard was hit with a five second stop-go penalty for starting out of position on the grid.

Esteban Gutierrez’s race came to an early end following a run-in with Pastor Maldonado. The two drivers made contact heading through the final complex of corners, tipping Maldonado up into the air in a near-reverse of the incident that we saw in Bahrain. Maldonado was able to continue, although he did lose three places as a result of the tangle.

At the front, Hamilton began to apply pressure to Rosberg by reducing the gap with each passing lap, and took the lead when his teammate pitted. The Briton was told that it was “hammer time”, and duly posted personal best times before stopping.

Having reported a gearbox problem earlier in the race, Rosberg’s car soon cried enough and came to a halt at Chapel. His futile efforts to restart the car did not work, meaning that for the first time in 2014, the German driver did not score any points.

Now leading, Hamilton was told to look after his car given that his advantage was over 25 seconds and growing. Once second-placed Bottas stopped for fresh rubber, the lead stood at over 40 seconds. The Finn was continuing to push though, and ran in a strong second place behind the sole remaining Mercedes.

Vettel and Alonso entered battle after the Red Bull driver made his second and final stop of the race, with the Spaniard pulling off a fine overtake heading into Copse. Vettel tried to respond, but could not find a way past Alonso who was running in fifth despite complaining about his defence over the radio.

With ten laps to go, Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of tires to make sure of the result, and crossed the line almost 30 seconds ahead of the field to claim an emotional home victory and bring himself right back into the championship fight. He now trails Rosberg by just four points at the top of the standings.

Bottas produced another sterling performance to score his best-ever result in Formula 1, finishing second. In the final few laps of the race, Button reeled in Ricciardo for the final podium position, but just could not quite catch the Red Bull driver.

Alonso and Vettel continued to fight, with the German driver eventually finding a way past with four laps to go to finish fifth behind Button. Kevin Magnussen came home in seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, and the Toro Rosso drivers rounded out the points in ninth and tenth.

Hamilton’s victory sent the home crowd into raptures, but no-one was happier than the Briton himself. With this result, he has put the pressure right back on Rosberg, and will now want to take the lead of the championship on his teammate’s home turf at Hockenheim in two weeks’ time.

Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

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The title combatants from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season both launched their 2018 challengers earlier on Thursday, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing the SF71H and Mercedes AMG Petronas revealing the W09.

For Ferrari, the SF71H represents an evolution of last year’s SF70H, which helped produce Ferrari’s best season in several years.

They presented a strong challenge to Mercedes for the championship, even leading the way at various points, with Sebastian Vettel recording five wins along the way. But, mechanical failures and crashes hampered their efforts late in the season, and they settled for second in the driver’s championship (with Vettel) and the constructor’s championship.

Entering 2018, the team is emphasizing the importance of building momentum with every race to ultimately secure their first constructor’s crown since 2008 and their first driver’s crown since 2007.

“There are no challenges actually. There are no challenges in the plural. There is just one challenge, which is the final challenge,” asserted team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. So that’s work that you build and you don’t build that work in one or two races. We’ve seen over the last few years, in the last championships, that you work race by race, and you always try to do the best you can.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto detailed some of the updates on the 2018 car, such as an new power unit and new suspension designs in anticipation of new tire constructions.

“We worked a lot on the power unit, we worked on its reliability and performance. We worked on the packaging, on suspensions in the rear axle because there will be new tires the following season, so we also tried to design the car to accommodate the new tires,” he explained.

Binotto added, “In regards to aerodynamics, we maintained our concept of having the inlets on the radiators, and everybody’s copying that, but we tried to make an additional step forward and what we showed today is not the same element of last year, but it is something more developed.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, will look to take it’s fifth consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships with the W09. The team even took the car to the track for its launch, conducting a filming day at Silverstone Circuit.

“It is always a very exciting time because what has been designed is coming together and coming alive,”  team principal Toto Wolff said during the launch.

Despite facing challenges with last year’s car, the W08, the team elected to follow a similar design concept with the aerodynamics to improve on the car’s strengths while simultaneously addressing its weak points.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” Wolf quipped. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

Both Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to slug it out again for the 2018 driver’s and constructor’s championships.

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