Race Check-Up: decisions at Silverstone

Race check-up

After a thrilling start to the race, Lewis Hamilton managed to take a consecutive third win at Silverstone circuit. He was followed by teammate Nico Rosberg in second and Sebastian Vettel in third. Let’s look at some of the strategies of the teams.

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If Formula 1 had come under fire for getting boring, the race start at Silverstone seemed to prove otherwise. It did not to disappoint its fans with the entertainment levels after displaying a different race leader for the first time in 2015 which was not a Ferrari or Mercedes. An ecstatic beginning saw both Williams cars jumping ahead and roaring off to take lead for the first 20 laps with Felipe Massa leading the race until his pit stop and teammate Valtteri Bottas behind him.

The rain changed the game and saved the day for pole-sitter Hamilton, who took a perfect tyre change decision at the right time in the race. He remained in the lead after that, breaking Sir Jackie Stewarts’ record of leading 45 consecutive GPs. During a week with Wimbledon taking the limelight in England, a Grand Prix as exciting as this was just what we needed to bring the attention back to Formula 1. There were was an incident at the start of the race itself which led to 3 retirements and a total of eight retirements in the entire race.

Mercedes: tyre strategy and reliability saved the day

There have been very few instances when a Grand Prix in Britain have been won by the pole-sitter, or a have been a clean pole-to-podium win. For both Mercedes drivers the rain and a perfect tyre choice saved the whole matter. When it came to Hamilton, he admitted that for the first time in his career he had made the correct tyre choice. After disappointment in Monaco and Austria, this win was much needed for the double champion. The team made a good move with Nico’s strategy to which helped him get past the two Williams cars. Technically the takeaway from this GP was that both the Mercedes cars had more grip, downforce and better reliability than the others in the rain, which helped them regain their dominance.

Williams: almost there

The flying start by Felipe Massa was what put excitement into the race from Lap 1, with his teammate Valtterri Bottas passing Nico Rosberg and sealing second spot. Both Williams racers were fast in dry track conditions, however the team made a bad call in not letting them race each other around Lap 10 and 11 when Bottas insisted he was faster than Massa. Both were ordered that it was important to get ahead of the Mercedes cars and increase the lead instead. Sadly, that decision turned its back on them in the wet weather and the pit stops as Hamilton gained the lead when both drivers changed tyres. In wet conditions both drivers were struggling for grip and had less downforce to make it back up the grid. However, it was the first time in the season a race was led by a car which was not a Ferrari or a Mercedes. Massa finished fourth and was followed by Bottas in fifth, as compared to the double podium they could have managed had the team got their strategy right.

Ferrari: a magical podium

For the prancing horse the qualifying wasn’t too great, given that both Williams drivers were far ahead. Kimi Raikonnen had managed keeping himself ahead of Vettel in fourth and fifth until a wrong call to put him on intermediate tyres dropped him to eighth. The call for Kimi was made too early and when it had actually started pouring, the Finn had to stop for a second set of wets, which made it difficult for him to get ahead of his teammate or the others. The strategy worked out perfectly for Sebastian Vettel – the driver was called in around Lap 43, when everyone had started changing to wets. With the German finishing third, it got him back into the Top 3.

Force India: double points finish!

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished in the points. For a driver as good as Hulkenberg, he only managed a seventh place, but remained the only driver to not get overlapped by the leader. Perez finished the race ninth.

McLaren: a points finish at last

In the first lap both drivers made contact with each other leading to an early retirement for Jenson Button and an early pitstop for Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless, with eight retirements in the race, Alonso managed finishing the race ahead of Sauber and Marussia, bringing the team their first points of the season.

First lap incident: the two Lotus cars made contact with each other, followed by the two McLarens doing the same. The incident led to three retirements immediately – Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. It all resulted in the safety car coming out at Lap 1. After investigation, it has been ruled though that there will be no penalties for the opening lap collision.

Retirements: Max Verstappen, who remained the only driver on the Pirelli hard compound tyres, lost grip and flew off the tarmac. Teammate Carlos Sainz did not manage to finish the race either due to a mechanical problem with his car. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo suffered an electrical energy issue that forced him to retire early. Felipe Nasr had a gearbox issue where his car was stuck into six-gear in the formation lap and he was unable to start the race.

As it stands to post this race, the current win places Lewis Hamilton with 194 points and increases his lead over teammate Nico, who follows with 177 points. They are pursued by Vettel in third with 135 points. Mercedes dominate with a total of 371 points, followed by Ferrari with 211 points and Williams in third with 151 points. With the next race in Hungary and 10 more races to go, it is truly exciting to see if there will be more interesting twists.

Check our very own James Moy’s brilliant shots from Silverstone here.

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