Hamilton eases to fifth British GP win; Ferrari hits trouble


Lewis Hamilton went wire-to-wire en route to his fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on Sunday, cutting Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship to just a single point after Ferrari hit late trouble.

Hamilton led every single lap of the race for Mercedes and never came under threat at the front of the pack as he finished over 10 seconds clear of the field, coming home ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The result saw Hamilton tie with Alain Prost and Jim Clark’s shared record of five British Grand Prix wins, and extended his winning streak at Silverstone that dates back to 2014.

Valtteri Bottas took second for Mercedes after completing a fightback from ninth on the grid with a reverse strategy, blitzing past Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as both Ferrari drivers suffered front-left tire failures in the final three laps.

Hamilton made a great start off the line to retain his lead ahead of Raikkonen early on as Vettel dropped behind Max Verstappen, the Ferrari man’s brakes having been smoking on the grid.

The race was put under the safety car on Lap 2 following a clash between Toro Rosso teammates Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. at Maggots and Becketts. After running wide at the high-speed right-hander, Kvyat came across into Sainz’s path and shunted him out of the race, receiving a drive-through penalty for his efforts.

Hamilton was quickly able to re-establish his lead upon the restart on Lap 5, easing clear of Raikkonen as Verstappen and Vettel duelled for third.

Vettel was pushed off-track through the final sector at one point as Verstappen boldly defended his place, leaving the Ferrari driver frustrated as he slipped over 15 seconds clear of title rival Hamilton. All the while, Valtteri Bottas was able to latch onto the back of the battle as he recovered from P9 on the grid to run fifth on the soft tire.

Vettel and Verstappen’s battle went to the pits when Ferrari looked to get its car ahead using the undercut. The team turned Vettel around quickly at the end of Lap 18, with Red Bull responding by bringing Verstappen in one lap later. An issue with one of the wheel nuts slowed Verstappen down, causing him to drop behind Vettel at pit exit and halt the battle that had raged between them.

Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 25 from the lead, emerging just ahead of Bottas, who was taking his soft tires deep into the race before stopping. Hamilton was told not to hold Bottas up, only to immediately put the hammer down and pull clear out front once again.

Bottas was brought in by Mercedes at the end of Lap 32, taking a set of super-soft tires that would give him a pace advantage in the closing stages. The Finn emerged from the pits in fourth place, behind Vettel and ahead of Verstappen, and had 18 laps to try and capture a podium finish.

Bottas was able to quickly whittle away the gap to Vettel, who began to struggle with his tires entering the closing stages. After a side-by-side battle, Bottas was ultimately able to dispose of Vettel with seven laps to go, but soon turned his attention to Raikkonen in second.

Just as Bottas appeared to be running out of laps to catch up, Raikkonen suffered a front-left tire failure that forced him to limp back to the pits and drop back, handing Bottas second place.

Further drama hit Ferrari just one lap later when Vettel appeared to suffer a similar failure, albeit with further to make it home to the pits, causing him to fall all the way back to sixth place.

At the front, Hamilton had very little to do besides negotiate traffic and ensure he made no mistakes, looking after his tires and car through the closing stages.

With 51 laps in the book, Hamilton crossed the line to clinch his fifth Silverstone victory and end a two-race absence from the podium, moving to within one point of Vettel at the top of the standings.

Bottas took second place, 14 seconds behind Hamilton, while Raikkonen managed to complete the podium ahead of Max Verstappen.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”