F1 Preview – 2018 British Grand Prix

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Round 10 of the 2018 Formula 1 season concludes a busy stretch of three races in a row between the end of June and early July, as the championship heads to the Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing took advantage of Mercedes’ blunders to win the Austrian Grand Prix, an outcome that left Mercedes, and Hamilton in particular, seething.

A trip to Silverstone may be just what the doctor ordered – Hamilton is the defending British Grand Prix winner, and his own home race will undoubtedly provide him with even more motivation to right the ship after the blunders at the Red Bull Ring.

Talking points ahead of the British Grand Prix are below.

Championship Fight Continues Its Twists and Turns

MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 10: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 10, 2018 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel is back in front of the driver’s championship, leading Hamilton by one point – Ferrari also is back in front of the constructor’s championship, by 10 points over Mercedes.

The ebb and flow of the championship has seen momentum in a constant state of flux between the two teams – it’s almost as if this is becoming a championship no one wants to win.

Rest assured, the latter assessment is hyperbole, but it does not lessen to massive swings in momentum the season has seen.

Last week’s Austrian Grand Prix is a perfect example. Ferrari was on the back foot entering Sunday’s race – Mercedes locked out the front row, and was coming off a dominant win for Hamilton at the French Grand Prix, while Vettel started sixth after incurring a three-place grid penalty.

And with Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas running 1-2 early on, it seemed like Mercedes would again roll to a seemingly easy win. But, following a hydraulic failure for Bottas, a strategic blunder for Hamilton, and then a power unit failure for Hamilton, Ferrari found itself with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel on the podium, while Mercedes was left with a double DNF – and Red Bull and Verstappen snuck through to steal the win.

Unpredictability is becoming a theme of the 2018 season, and it may well continue this weekend in Silverstone.

Opportunistic Red Bull Look to Steal More of the Spotlight

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – JULY 01: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing and The Netherlands during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 1, 2018 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

On sheer pace, Red Bull should probably not have three Grand Prix wins this year. They’ve only had raw, race winning pace – meaning they haven’t had to rely on blunders from Ferrari and Mercedes to challenge for the win – at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Yet, Daniel Ricciardo has two wins on the board, and Max Verstappen is Formula 1’s most recent winner, having taken the checkered flag in Austria.

But don’t tell team principal Christian Horner that they shouldn’t be considered title threats.

“Nine races, three victories, the same amount of wins as Ferrari and Mercedes,” said Horner in a story on Formula1.com. “Our Achilles heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability our other incidents.”

He continued, “Formula 1 is full of ifs, buts and maybes, but if you look at the positions that we were in and should have been in then we should be leading the championship today – but the scoreboard is slightly different to that. We’ve closed the gap over the last few races, and there’s still a long, long way to go. What are there, 12 races left? So I think you’d have to consider us as an outside contender. Certainly our determination within the team is to keep pushing and try and ensure that we’re getting both cars ahead of our opponents.”

The gaps in the driver’s and constructor’s championships both seem insurmountable at the moment – Ricciardo is the best of Red Bull drivers with 96 points, which leaves him 50 behind Vettel, while Red Bull as a team sit 58 points behind Ferrari in the constructor’s.

But, if they don’t have reliability issues, they can easily throw yet another wrench into the title picture.

Haas Keen to Build on Best Weekend in F1

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – JULY 01: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team VF-18 Ferrari on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 1, 2018 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Despite showing pace good enough to battle well inside the points, Haas F1 has had a tough year. Prior to Austria, only Kevin Magnussen had scored for them in 2018, with Romain Grosjean having a big zero on the scoreboard.

And races like the Australian Grand Prix, when both Magnussen and Grosjean had the potential to finish on the podium, seemed to fall by the wayside, either by luck or error – in Australia, it was a pair of pit stop errors that cost them, as both drivers dropped out after exiting the pits with loose wheels.

But, Austria was the weekend they’ve been waiting for, as their impressive form finally netted them the results to match, with Grosjean finishing fourth and Magnussen in fifth.

It was their best result since entering F1 in 2016, and they’ll look for even more of the same in Silverstone.


  • Fernando Alonso finished eighth in Austria, but the wheels seem like they’re coming off at McLaren. Alonso’s finish was the team’s first points scoring effort since the Spanish Grand Prix, and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne has not scored in five consecutive races. They showed promise early on, scoring in each of the first five races (including three double points finishes), but things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent races.
  • Force India had their best outing of 2018 as a team in Austria, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finishing sixth and seventh. Outside of Perez’s third place in Azerbaijan, Austria was the first time in 2018 that Force India has demonstrated the form that got them fourth place in the constructor’s championship in each of the last two years. They’ll look to build on that in Silverstone.
  • Charles Leclerc’s stock continues to rise, as he has scored points in five of the last six races. Rumors are already starting to fly that he may replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next year – Leclerc is member of the Ferrari Driver Academy – and another points scoring effort will only add fuel to that fire.



Strong rebounds for Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi amid some disappointments in the Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou had not turned a wheel wrong the entire Month of May at the Indy 500 until Rinus VeeKay turned a wheel into the Chip Ganassi Racing pole-sitter leaving pit road on Lap 94.

“There is nothing I could have done there,” Palou told NBC Sports. “It’s OK, when it is my fault or the team’s fault because everybody makes mistakes. But when there is nothing, you could have done differently there, it feels bad and feels bad for the team.”

Marcus Ericsson was a master at utilizing the “Tail of the Dragon” move that breaks the draft of the car behind him in the closing laps to win last year’s Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, however, the last of three red flags in the final 16 laps of the race had the popular driver from Sweden breathing fire after Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden beat him at his own game on the final lap to win the Indianapolis 500.

Despite the two disappointments, team owner Chip Ganassi was seen on pit road fist-bumping a member on his four-car team in this year’s Indianapolis 500 after his drivers finished second, fourth, sixth and seventh in the tightly contested race.

Those are pretty good results, but at the Indianapolis 500, there is just one winner and 32 losers.

“There is only one winner, but it was a hell of a show,” three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Chip Ganassi Racing consultant Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “Alex was very fast, and he got absolutely caught out in somebody else’s wreck. There was nothing he could have done, but he and the 10 car, great recovery.

“Great recovery by all four cars because at half distance, we were not looking very good.”

After 92 laps, the first caution flew for Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing hitting the Turn 1 wall.

During pit stops on Lap 94, Palou had left his stall when the second-place car driven by VeeKay ran into him, putting Palou’s Honda into the wall. The car sustained a damaged front wing, but the Chip Ganassi crew was able to get him back in the race on the lead lap but in 28th position.

Palou ultimately would fight his way to a fourth-place finish in a race the popular Spaniard could have won. His displeasure with VeeKay, whom he sarcastically called “a legend” on his team radio after the incident, was evident.

“The benefit of being on pole is you can drive straight and avoid crashes, and he was able to crash us on the side on pit lane, which is pretty tough to do, but he managed it,” Palou told NBC Sports. “Hopefully next year we are not beside him. Hopefully, next year we have a little better luck.”

Palou started on the pole and led 36 laps, just three fewer than race leader Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing.

“We started really well, was managing the fuel as we wanted, our car was pretty good,” Palou said. “Our car wasn’t great, we dropped to P4 or P5, but we still had some good stuff.

“On the pit stop, the 21 (VeeKay) managed to clip us. Nothing we could have done there. It was not my team’s fault or my fault.

“We had to drop to the end. I’m happy we made it back to P4. We needed 50 more laps to make it happen, but it could have been a lot worse after that contact.

“I learned a lot, running up front at the beginning and in mid-pack and then the back. I learned a lot.

“It feels amazing when you win it and not so good when things go wrong. We were a bit lucky with so many restarts at the end to make it back to P4 so I’m happy with that.”

Palou said the front wing had to be changed and the toe-in was a bit off, but he still had a fast car.

In fact, his Honda was the best car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all month. His pole-winning four lap average speed of 234.217 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a record for this fabled race.

Palou looked good throughout the race, before he had to scratch and claw and race his way back to the top-five after he restarted 28th.

In the Indianapolis 500, however, the best car doesn’t always win.

“It’s two years in a row that we were leading the race at the beginning and had to drop to last,” Palou said. “Maybe next year, we will start in the middle of the field and go on to win the race.

“I know he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s better to let that pass someday.”

Palou said the wild racing at the end was because the downforce package used in Sunday’s race means the drivers have to be aggressive. The front two cars can battle for the victory, but cars back in fourth or fifth place can’t help determine the outcome of the race.

That is when the “Tail of the Dragon” comes into the play.

Franchitti helped celebrate Ericsson’s win in 2022 with his “Tail of the Dragon” zigzag move – something he never had to do in any of his three Indianapolis 500 victories because they all finished under caution.

In 2023, however, IndyCar Race Control wants to make every attempt to finish the race under green, without going past the scheduled distance like NASCAR’s overtime rule.

Instead of extra laps, they stop the race with a red flag, to create a potential green-flag finish condition.

“You do what you have to do to win within the rules, and it’s within the rules, so you do it,” Franchitti said. “The race is 200 laps and there is a balance.

“Marcus did a great job on that restart and so did Josef. It was just the timing of who was where and that was it.

“If you knew it was going to go red, you would have hung back on the lap before.

“Brilliant job by the whole Ganassi organization because it wasn’t looking very good at half-distance.

“Full marks to Josef Newgarden and Team Penske.”

Franchitti is highly impressed by how well Ericsson works with CGR engineer Brad Goldberg and how close this combination came to winning the Indianapolis 500 two-years-in-a-row.

It would have been the first back-to-back Indy 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

“Oh, he’s a badass,” Franchitti said Ericsson. “He proved it last year. He is so calm all day. What more do you need? As a driver, he’s fast and so calm.”

Ericsson is typically in good spirits and jovial.

He was stern and direct on pit road after the race.

“I did everything right, I did an awesome restart, caught Josef off-guard and pulled away,” Ericsson said on pit lane. “It’s hard to pull away a full lap and he got me back.

“I’m mostly disappointed with the way he ended. I don’t think it was fair and safe to do that restart straight out of the pits on cold tires for everyone.

“To me, it was not a good way to end that race.

“Congrats to Josef. He didn’t do anything wrong. He is a worthy champion, but it shouldn’t have ended like that.”

Palou also didn’t understand the last restart, which was a one-start showdown.

“I know that we want to finish under green,” Palou said. “Maybe the last restart I did, I didn’t understand. It didn’t benefit the CGR team.

“I’m not very supportive of the last one, but anyway.”

Dixon called the red flags “a bit sketchy.”

“The Red Flags have become a theme to the end of the race, but sometimes they can catch you out,” Dixon said. “I know Marcus is frustrated with it.

“All we ask for is consistency. I think they will do better next time.

“It’s a tough race. People will do anything they can to win it and with how these reds fall, you have to be in the right place at the right time. The problem is when they throw a Red or don’t throw a Red dictates how the race will end.

“It’s a bloody hard race to win. Congrats to Josef Newgarden and to Team Penske.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500