A lot of people in Britain have been using the term “it’s coming home” over the last week or so, and that’s certainly true for Formula One .. coming home back to where it all began in 1950. This time, it was the 2018 edition of British Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton lined up on pole position at his home race with Sebastian Vettel second and Kimi Raikkonen third. As they got underway, for the second time in two races, a Ferrari hit a Mercedes on the opening lap! On this occasion, it was “the other two” with Raikkonen tagging Hamilton. This incident, along with Sergio Perez spinning, caused all sorts of chaos. At the end of the opening lap; Vettel led from Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen with Lewis Hamilton down in 17th. Meanwhile, both Renault drivers had made significant improvements from their grid spots, and the Haas cars had both dropped backwards.
Hamilton was supremely quick today, as you might expect on this circuit, and by lap 12 the British driver was back up to 6th position; right back in the hunt! A number of incidents during the race would create confusion and disorder with the strategies today. Firstly, Charles Leclerc retired following a pit stop and a mis-fitted tyre. Secondly, a dramatic accident for Marcus Ericsson due to either turning on the curbing too harshly or a brake failure (exact cause to be confirmed). Finally, contact between Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean, causing both drivers to end up deep in the gravel trap. The final two of these incidents caused separate safety car periods and as the order stabilised Valtteri Bottas was leading from Vettel, Hamilton and then Verstappen in 4th.
When the race resumed, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen had a superb battle with numerous changes of position with the Finnish driver ultimately winning out. Then, all of a sudden, the order was Mercedes-Ferrari-Mercedes-Ferrari with all four looking like they had a chance of the win! Vettel was clearly the quicker driver of the four, but Bottas was driving supremely well – constantly rebuking Vettel’s desperate efforts to get past. However, a moment of brilliance from Sebastian Vettel, with a very late move, allowed the German driver to take the lead – and eventually, the win. One of the big criticisms of F1 is that a large part of the results are down to car performance over driver skill, but boy did Vettel earn his paycheck today!
Unfortunately for Valtteri Bottas, his tyre degradation became too high and he would eventually drop down to 4th position. At the end of the race, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez suffered minor contact, with Pierre taking the final points position. That incident is still under investigation by the stewards.
Sebastian Vettel’s 51st victory in F1 means he’s 40 race wins off Michael Schumacher’s record of 91. Lewis Hamilton came home in second with Kimi Raikkonen completing the podium. Bottas and Ricciardo rounded out the top five. Nico Hulkenberg finished in a strong 6th place for Renault with Esteban Ocon 7th. Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly finished at the tail end of the points. Eight out of ten teams scored points today, once again showing how competitive the racing is at the moment.
Finally, spare a thought for Brendon Hartley who didn’t have his car ready for the race start, but the New Zealander did eventually get out on track to only last one lap following a mechanical issue.
Do you believe Sebastian Vettel will go on to score more race wins than Michael Schumacher? Let me know your thoughts below.