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Vettel wins Silverstone thriller

NEWS STORY
08/07/2018

"Broadsword calling Danny Boy... Broadsword calling Danny Boy..."

For once, as the cars lap the circuit, rather than telling us that the drivers are heading into Turn 4 or X has spun at T15... we are advised that the drivers are actually heading into Abbey and Y has overtaken Z on the Hangar Straight.

"Brooklands", Hangar Straight", "Wellington Straight"... all that's missing is the "Spitfire Chicane", "Church Hill" (think about it) and "May Hairpin" (again...).

Like Tamburello, the Parabolica, Peraltada, Casino, Eau Rouge... these are the iconic, evocative names etched on to the very souls of race fans around the world, certainly those of a certain age, those who followed the sport before it became synonymous with "glamour" and "parties".

And as Britain's hero prepares to go head-to-head with Sebastian Vettel - Mr Hamilton, by an uncanny twist of fate, at the wheel of a German car - already buoyed up by yesterday's qualifying performance and the result of a certain football match - fans are preparing for a real Battle of Britain, and what better setting.

It is well documented that Silverstone was formerly a World War II airfield - hence names like Hangar and Wellington - and though it is pretty much featureless, lacking the charm and soul of the likes of Brands Hatch, it is fast, very fast.

Though Hamilton was spotted wearing an England shirt during his post-qualifying debrief yesterday, it is unlikely that his overalls will reflect his patriotism today, the poor lad hasn't even had time to grow a Nigel Mansell/Graham Hill fighter-pilot moustache.

His post-qualifying emotion appeared genuine, the odds were very much against him and he had to dig deep, how he found that 0.044s to beat Vettel God only knows.

This afternoon, the odds remain very much against him, what with the pace of the Ferrari duo and the rising temperatures which could see him suffer Austrian levels of degradations.

With all leading ten starting on the same soft tyres, the start will not be influenced - as it was in Austria - by strategy but rather a gung-ho battle of nerves over the course of those first few challenging corners indeed, the whole of that first lap. While we will likely see heroics we might also see carnage.

The introduction of the safety car - be it real or virtual - will be the first test for Mercedes strategist James Vowles since his mistake in Austria - and like his charges, Messrs Hamilton and Bottas - the Briton will need to keep a cool head, for a mistake on home soil, defeat by the German, would be unthinkable.

Mansell claimed the home crowd was worth a couple of seconds a lap, and at the start of today's race Hamilton will need it, for if the Ferraris get ahead the race is almost done, the battle lost.

Even now, 24 hours later, we're not quite sure how the Ferraris missed out on pole, for both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were on mega laps, but then again so was Hamilton.

With Valtteri Bottas starting from fourth, Hamilton will be looking to the Finn to be his wing man as he fends of the Ferraris - both sporting the prancing horse emblem given to the Italian team by the mother of a World War I fighter pilot - as well as Max Verstappen, who despite being around 80bhp down on power often appears to forget the fact.

Next come the allies, with Australia's Daniel Ricciardo starting just ahead of the Haas duo, while Charles Leclerc, in the Sauber, will be looking to be anything but neutral.

Of course, when we say allies, we not merely referring to Americans and Australians, rather the fact that other than the two works cars, there are three Ferrari-powered cars in the top nine, meaning the Vettel and Raikkonen know they have friends in close proximity.

Sadly, that most British of teams, Williams, looks set to enjoy a thoroughly miserable afternoon, and while the Grove outfit waits on its American friends - in the form of Liberty Media - to rescue it with cash in the form of a budget cap and a more even distribution of the prize money - it must remain content to reflect on past glories and the occasional scrap from the table.

While Williams waits, hands out-stretched, on the Americans, some claim that at McLaren it is our friends from across the water are actually doing the damage. Samurai Alonso will continue to give a 100% but despite the departure of Eric Boullier - seemingly the cause of all the team's ills - we are told we will have to wait, possibly as long as ten years, to see if Zak is a General Patton or the Woking outfit is heading to its own Waterloo.

The Toro Rosso pair, especially Brendon Hartley, deserve medals (or points) just for getting into their cars today, yesterday's suspension failure a serious concern for the Faenza based outfit. While not wishing to signal any favouritism, it would be good to see the kiwi score a point or two, what with the way he is being treated by the team at present.

Other than the ludicrous plot, Where Eagles Dare witnessed America coming to the aid of British Intelligence in the form of Clint Eastwood. Whether Haas can have such an explosive influence on today's race remains to be seen. Though it would be good to see the American outfit add further to its tally, one cannot help but wince at the thought of Romain and Kevin up front, attacking the Bulls and Mercedes and Ferraris while fending off the rest.

Force India will have gained momentum from the Austrian result, but like Haas is aware that but for the retirements of Mercedes and Ricciardo its tally would have been greatly reduced. The Silverstone-based outfit is not the same team we have witnessed over the course of the last few seasons and one wonders whether the off-track antics are taking their toll.

Then there's the French. Dare we go there? Yesterday was the first time Carlos Sainz failed to get into Q2 since joining Renault, and the team has admitted its mistake. However, despite the French manufacturer's determination to return to its winning ways, the team still fails to convince.

All that aside, today is all about Hamilton versus Ferrari, the Briton seeking to give his countrymen (and women) something to cheer about, something to help them forget the rest, the everyday banalities... something that sport - when one's winning - can often do.

Today is Hamilton's opportunity to be a hero once again, to raise the spirits of his nation, but with Ferrari, and a certain German - who happens to have a very English sense of humour - looking to spoil the party, he'll have his work cut out.

On Friday, Ferrari showed strong pace during its race sims, hence the task facing Hamilton this afternoon.

In terms of tyre strategy, theoretically the fastest is a one-stopper; starting on softs then changing to mediums after 16-19 laps. Alternatively, start on softs, then after 13-16 laps change to hards. However, in the case of higher degradation on the softs, a two-stop strategy might be better. In other words, two stints on softs of 12 laps each, then mediums to the end.

As the drivers prepare to head out to the grid, the Red Arrows do their stuff, painting the azure sky with red, white and blue smoke, As Roy Harper so beautifully sang, "one of those days in England..."

As they head out, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 51 degrees.

As has become the norm, though the pre-race grid time has been extended in order to allow more access to the drivers, they've all gone AWOL.

All are starting on softs bar Hulkenberg, Sainz, Stroll and Sirotkin who all start on mediums.

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, there is still work ongoing to Hartley's car, which, like the Williams pair, will start from the pitlane. The kiwis car is on its stand in the garage.

All get away cleanly.

Hamilton is advised of tailwind in T4 and crosswind in T3. Gasly askes to be reminded to take a drink now and then.

Strong starts from Hamilton and Vettel as Raikkonen moves across to cover Bottas. Into T1 Vettel is ahead while Bottas is on the inside of Hamilton with Raikkonen right behind.

Further back there's an incident involving Ericsson and Perez, the Mexican spins across the track and across the pitlane exit, lucky not to be collected by the Williams pair who were exiting.

Into T2 and Bottas is ahead of Hamilton who has Raikkonen in hot pursuit with the Red Bull right behind.

Raikkonen is on the inside of Hamilton at T3, and they touch, the left-front wheel on the Ferrari hitting the right-rear on the Mercedes, the resultant spin for Hamilton causing Verstappen and others to take avoiding action. Indeed, the Haas pair go off either side of the Mercedes, with Hamilton subsequently rejoining the race, albeit in last position.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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As Vettel and Bottas pull away, the Bulls are battling with Raikkonen keeping a watching eye. Into Copse and Raikkonen goes around the outside of Ricciardo to take fourth, a typically bold, brave move from The Iceman.

Vettel leads Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Ocon, Magnussen and Sainz. The Haas pair losing out badly at the start while Renault gained.

"I think my car's broken," says Hamilton as he continues in 17th.

Told everything is OK, including his tyre pressure, Hamilton begins his fight back. HE goes through on the inside of Vandoorne at Copse to take 15th.

Though he started, Hartley has already returned to the pits to retire.

The T3 incident is under investigation.

As Vettel builds a 3.7s lead, Hamilton passes Ericsson for 14th. Raikkonen is all over Verstappen, the speed differential obvious.

"I've lost half my floor, I'm sure," says Hamilton. "Maybe, but we can't see any damage," he is told.

"You're doing a great job Lewis, we can still get some points." "I'm really sorry guys," replies the world champion. Indeed, as he apologises, he is clearly not blaming Raikkonen.

"My brake by wire went off," Says Verstappen, "it's good now but it went off."

Applause in the Mercedes garage as Hamilton passes Magnussen for 10th.

As Raikkonen runs wide after locking up, Raikkonen is given a 10s penalty for causing a collision - the first lap incident with Hamilton.

Even though his lap times are on the pace, Hamilton complains that his rear end feels loose.

The Haas pair are under investigation for causing a collision at T3 on lap 1.

No sooner has Sainz almost stood aside for Hamilton than Ocon is equally obliging. The Mercedes driver now up to 8th.

Raikkonen warns that he feels his front wing is damaged, no doubt the result of that encounter with Hamilton.

Hamilton sweeps by Leclerc, the Sauber no match for the Mercedes and its driver.

After 10 laps, Hamilton is closing in on seventh-placed Hulkenberg who is already 13.2s down on Ricciardo. The next phase won't be quite so easy for the Briton.

No further action to be taken over that Haas clash, currently 11th and 14th they've been punished enough.

As Raikkonen loses ground to Verstappen, he begins to fall into the clutches of Ricciardo.

"We need to push, we need to push," Raikkonen is told as he pits to serve his penalty and switch to mediums. He clearly isn't happy as he rejoins in 11th, albeit in heavy traffic. Alonso also pits.

"Is the wind changing between 6 and 7, I had a bit of rear instability," says Verstappen. "Confirmed," comes the reply.

"Other cars look to be struggling," Hamilton is told.

Despite complaining about his handling, Raikkonen is setting a blistering pace as he works his way through the backmarkers. In the process of hunting down Ocon he posts a new fastest lap (32.270).

The Finn sweeps by Ocon and sets off chasing down Leclerc.

After 16 laps (of 52), poor Hartley is the only retirement.

As Vettel loses a little time following a lock-up, Raikkonen passes Leclerc and sets off after Hulkenberg.

Verstappen pits at the end of lap 17, rejoining in 5th behind Hamilton. Sainz also pits.

Hulkenberg is left for dead as Raikkonen claims 6th, the Finn now finding himself back behind Verstappen.

Ricciardo stops next time around, thereby promoting Hamilton to third. Leclerc also pits.

Ricciardo rejoins in 5th ahead of Raikkonen who posts a new fastest lap (32.135).

Following his stop, Leclerc rejoins but subsequently pulls off track suggesting a loose wheel. Potential unsafe release for the Sauber driver.

Vettel pits at the end of lap 20, the German rejoining in second under 2s ahead of Hamilton, though the Briton and his teammate have yet to stop.

Raikkonen runs wide, very wide, as Mercedes prepares for Bottas. The Finn pits and rejoins in third behind his Mercedes teammate.

Under orders, Hamilton allows Bottas through, the Finn now 3.898s down on race leader Vettel.

The Haas pair are up into the pints but they still have to stop.

The stewards will investigate Leclerc's unsafe release after the race.

"Tyres are starting to drop a little bit," reports Hamilton.

Raikkonen is all over the back of Ricciardo, who is 3.2s down on his Red Bull teammate.

Told to "box", Hamilton opts to stay out for a further lap. At the end of lap 25 he pits. Switching to mediums he rejoins in sixth, 8.7s down on Raikkonen. Magnussen also pits, the Dane rejoining in 11th.

"We are racing Grosjean," so keep pushing," Ericsson is told. The Swede is currently fifth, but has pitted, unlike the Frenchman. Grosjean subsequently pits and rejoins in 15th... behind Ericsson.

On fresh rubber, with 25 laps remaining, Hamilton posts his fastest lap of the race (32.481). He is currently 27s down on Vettel.

"Oh man, if we are racing Magnussen, why didn't you tell me earlier," snaps Sainz.

A new fastest lap (31.682) from Hamilton as he attempts to close the 8.3s gap to Raikkonen.

As the gap comes down to 6.7s another fastest lap from Hamilton as he stops the clock at 31.546.

Ricciardo makes his second stop of the afternoon, switching to softs he rejoins in sixth 10.7s down on Hamilton. It will be worth watching his times over the next few laps.

Christian Horner reveals that Red Bull doesn't feel Raikkonen can go the distance on his mediums.

Stroll doesn't make it easy as he is lapped by Hamilton.

Ericsson goes off at Abbey (T1), his car buried deep in the tyre barrier after the Swede lost the rear end.

The safety car is deployed as Ericsson climbs from his car, much to the delight of the crowd.

Alonso and Sainz are the first to pit, followed by Gasly and Perez.

Out front, Vettel pits as does Verstappen, Raikkonen follows suit.

Vettel rejoins in second on fresh softs, while Verstappen is fourth and Raikkonen fifth, both on softs also.

As Ericsson's car is lifted to safety - a double DNF for Sauber - Bottas leads from Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Magnussen and Alonso.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 09/07/2018 21:28

"
Cracking race - never seen Silverstone so hot!!!

Harking back to complaints at the start of the season about ESPN coverage using Sky's service. Is everyone over here (US) now happier?

To me, it's still light years better than last season's NBCSN - no ads in qually or race, and current drivers giving incisive comments rather than a dinosaur (albeit one of my favourites). You had 2 WDC's as part of the team for Silverstone, and excellent recorded pieces over the weekend.

Sorry if all the accents are British, but then, given that there haven't been too many US drivers, and only 2 WDC's in the whole series history, compared to 10 British drivers (with multiple wins), it's hardly surprising.

Were Nascar running part of their championship in UK/Europe, I'd naturally accept that commentators/analysts would be American - my duty to understand their accents.
"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 09/07/2018 6:58

"Irrespective of the "tactics" the "penalty" failed to penalise the errant Kimi, who took out his team's main rival, yet managed to go on and come 3rd. At the very least these penalties should ensure that the guilty party loses as much time as the victim of their mistake.

"

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