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Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 at Silverstone as Ferrari hopes fall flat

NEWS STORY
16/07/2017

Whatever one might think of Silverstone, it is hard to comprehend that this afternoon's Grand Prix might be one of the last held here.

On a purely personal level, were there some sort of magic pill, we would always have preferred Brands Hatch or Donington, especially after the BRDC's ludicrous decision to almost totally emasculate the track, not to mention the dreaded Wing.

Then there is the unbelievable fact that on a totally flat circuit - it was an RAF airfield previously remember - much of the pitlane cannot be seen by the fans opposite as the BRDC, in its infinite wisdom - chose to erect the pits on a lower level.

With their own unique charm, the undulations, the great viewing areas, Brands Hatch and Donington would both have made better homes for the British round of the world championship... and don't get us started on London, it won't happen.

Because Silverstone is entirely, naturally flat, it's ironic that the weekend thus far has been something of a roller-coaster, both in terms of the weather and form.

Friday's sunshine gave way to cloud, rain and cool temperatures yesterday, and God only knows what to expect this afternoon. Rain is expected, but it is not currently due to arrive until just after the race.

Then again, this is England.

While Mercedes blitzkrieged the opposition on Friday, there was a strong revival from Ferrari in FP3, only for Lewis Hamilton to turn up the heat in qualifying and leave his closest rival over half-a-second behind.

Ferrari and Mercedes both have upgrades this weekend, and while the Maranello outfit's showed real promise yesterday morning, it was left for dust later in the afternoon.

On home crowd, in front of his adoring fans, Hamilton has to be favourite to convert today's win into a fourth successive home win, unless the weather gods, Sebastian Vettel, Lady Luck or the Briton himself have other ideas.

In successive races the Mercedes drivers have taken penalties for gearboxes changes, could this be the chink in Mercedes, and thereby Hamilton's armour. In light of the issue, Mercedes has opted to switch to an older spec gearbox on both cars today.

While Kimi Raikkonen was second quickest in qualifying, Vettel is convinced that had he been sent out earlier he could have challenged not only his teammate but Hamilton.

With Bottas demoted to ninth following that penalty, Max Verstappen is promoted to fourth. Having failed to finish five of the last seven races, the teenager would surely be happy merely to finish in the points, but there's no doubt that the youngster will want more than just a few points here.

However, with his reliability issues and bad luck, the Dutch racer would do will not only to heed the Turbocharger issue suffered by his teammate - which means Ricciardo will start from the back of the grid - but also the old adage about 'to finish first, first you have to finish'.

A typically bravura performance, not to mention a number of updates, including a new floor, diffuser and bargeboards, see Nico Hulkenberg start fifth, though the German is concerned that reliability could once again prove an issue. On the other hand, what better location for Jolyon Palmer to finally open his 2017 points account.

Next up come the Pink Panthers who really do appear to be permanently tied together with string. Despite the best efforts of the team to put a brave face on, the fact is that these two racers are waging war on one another, and one cannot help but feel that today will witness more fireworks.

For the first time, Stoffel Vandoorne has out-qualified teammate Fernando Alonso, and while all credit to the Belgian youngster, what a performance from the Spaniard yesterday. Know he was to start the race from the back of the grid, the two-time champ still gave it his all and had the crowd cheering when he went quickest in Q1.

Last night he admitted that he hoped for a chaotic race today, hoping that ever changing conditions will see his rivals making 25 pit stops while he makes just 23.

Sadly, despite the fact that Honda is confident its latest update will solve the MGU-H issues, it's a case of 'we'll believe it when we see it'.

Both Toro Rosso drivers were off the pace yesterday, the Faenza outfit appearing to make a habit of starting the season well only to fall away by summer.

Like Renault, which introduced the Turbocharger to F1 40 years ago at this circuit, Williams is celebrating a fortieth anniversary, and what better location to spring a surprise than the very venue where the British outfit was to claim its first win.

It was mixed fortunes for the Haas duo yesterday, Kevin Magnussen suffering a real loss of form this weekend while Romain Grosjean, who qualified tenth, took a verbal battering from Toto Wolff following his comments about Hamilton's actions in Q3 and the Stewards subsequent failure to punish the Briton.

As for Sauber, well like the legendary timepieces of its homeland, the Swiss will tick over, Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, though both over 5s off the pace, seeking any opportunity to grab something.

The start will be vital, Hamilton, no doubt seeking to repeat his teammate's Spielberg stunner, while Ferrari would dearly love to have both its car get ahead.

First corner incidents are not usually an issue here, especially since circuit revamp, while there is only a 50% chance of a Safety Car. The wide run-off areas give the marshals plenty of room to deal with stricken cars, but at the same time, accidents are usually high-speed, thereby producing lots of debris.

And then there's tyres.

Here's the lowdown from Pirelli.

The best race strategy with low degradation on supersoft (less than 0.15s per lap) is a 2-stopper. 2 stints on supersoft (15 laps each) and 1 stint on soft. Another good strategy with low degradation on supersofts is a 1-stopper: 1 stint on supersoft for 21 laps then 1 stint on soft.

If degradation on supersoft is high (more than 0.15s per lap) a 2-stopper is best: 1 supersoft stint of 14 laps then 2 soft stints of 19 laps each. Alternatively, another good strategy for high supersoft deg is a 1-stopper: 1 stint on soft of 20 laps then 1 stint on medium to the flag (52 laps total).

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin heading out. Air temperature is currently 21 degrees C, while the track temperature - according to the app - 0 degrees, which should make degradation interesting. What the app cannot get wrong is the fact that as well as being cool it is also overcast, with some very dark clouds in the distance. However Race Control insists the race will be dry.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by mickl, 17/07/2017 0:14

"I wish there'd been a camera on Marchionne's face when Vettel's tyre went pop."

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2. Posted by Barslug, 16/07/2017 19:53

"Get in there Lewis!!!"

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