F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain

Home hero Hamilton claims brilliant British GP victory


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.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field with fifth-placed Helio Castroneves.

Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 2nd Place, 1 Win, 3 Poles, 6 Podiums, 7 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 282 Laps Led, 5.7 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 5th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 4 Poles, 5 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 198 Laps Led, 4.9 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish

Much as you’d write about his fellow countryman and longtime friend and rival Tony Kanaan, age hasn’t slowed Helio Castroneves, but it’s instead fueled continued success. And while Castroneves went winless for only the second time (2011) in his illustrious 16-year career with Team Penske, he wasn’t down on performance.

Now 40, Castroneves continued to have several shining moments in 2015, which was particularly important to do to stand out against defending champion Will Power, this year’s primary title contender Juan Pablo Montoya and new driver Simon Pagenaud.

Castroneves scored four pole positions and boasted a 4.9 averaging starting position, second in the field to Power, which was very impressive to note. His run of form from Texas through Milwaukee, capturing three podiums in four races, was his best race stretch this season. Additional highlights included back-to-back runner-up results in the NOLA lottery and then on pure pace at Long Beach.

The month of May must though be viewed as a disappointment. Castroneves played a role in the first corner mess at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and got a points penalty (although the number was dropped) as a result. Then he endured another Indianapolis 500 where he was not the out-and-out fastest car in the Penske brigade. While Montoya and Power were dueling for the win and Pagenaud had speed to burn all month, Castroneves’ lone moment of note came with his accident in practice, which mercifully he emerged unscathed from.

As ever though, fifth in this field owed to his consistency and dogged determination to succeed. Castroneves has ended top-five in seven of the last eight seasons since the IRL/Champ Car merger in 2008 and if it wasn’t for Dixon’s top-three run hogging the headlines, we’d probably appreciate Castroneves even more so. As long as he’s continually competitive, he’s still worthy at Team Penske.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal
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MotorSportsTalk continues its driver-by-driver review of the field in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.

Next up is fourth-placed Graham Rahal, who had a career year.

Graham Rahal, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

  • 2014: 19th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 4 Top-10s, 28 Laps Led, 14.4 Avg. Start, 15.0 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 4th Place, 2 Wins, Best Start 5th, 6 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 10 Top-10s, 76 Laps Led, 11.0 Avg Start, 8.5 Avg. Finish

Formula 1 fans will remember the miraculous, shock rise of Brawn GP, which didn’t even exist as a team until mere weeks before the 2009 Australian Grand Prix having risen from the demise of the former Honda factory team, and then promptly proceeded to stomp the field en route to winning both the Driver’s and Constructor’s World Championships that season.

It’s the best racing comparison in recent years – or perhaps any year – for what was done at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2015, courtesy of a career year from Graham Rahal, an instant chemistry renewal with the people father Bobby put in place, and the fact Bobby himself stepped back this year to allow his team’s key players to shine through.

Because quite simply, after finishes of 18th and 19th the last two seasons, no one in their right mind had Rahal winning races and contending for a championship this season.

It’s hard to say specifically which point was most important, because all played dividends. Bobby Rahal moved off the pit box, and actually missed a fair number of races this year, which allowed Graham and team manager Ricardo Nault to gel with Nault on the radio and pretty much running the team on the whole. Then there were the three key crewmember additions: Eddie Jones moving over to be lead engineer on the No. 15 car was clutch, as was Rahal getting the opportunity to reunite with Martin Pare and work for the first time with Mike Talbott. The addition of damper ace Stuart Kenworthy was not covered much this year, but undoubtedly a big help. Sponsor Steak ‘n Shake’s arrival also brought a wealth of attention.

And then there were the drives in the races themselves. Perhaps strangely, Rahal had a tough qualifying average – only 11th – but it was the best for a Honda driver this year. The strategy calls from RLL were damn near perfect all year and Rahal seized every opportunity at his disposal, be it his wins at Fontana and Mid-Ohio, his recovery at Iowa, and his numerous other podiums throughout the year. His charge to second at Barber stands out as one of the drives of the year.

Call Fontana lucky if you will, and he was fortunate to avoid a penalty for leaving with the fuel buckeye, but even so he still could have come back given where the race was at that point. And being on the receiving end of two ill-advised taps from Tristan Vautier and Sebastien Bourdais at Pocono and Sonoma, respectively, cost him huge results and huge points – the net effect of three races.

The single-car title charge was one of the stories of the year, even beyond Scott Dixon’s championship comeback and Juan Pablo Montoya’s consistent-until-Sonoma season. Rahal re-established his credentials on track if people had forgotten what he was capable of; additionally, he reaffirmed his status as one of racing’s best people with his work in the Justin Wilson memorial auction after that tragedy. It was truly a ’15 to remember for the driver of the No. 15 car.