Sorry for kind of skipping over the Austrian Grand Prix. I missed most of the race live and then the World Cup, Wimbledon and kids stuff took over. Anyway it was another Mercedes one-two. Plus ca change.
But we are now at the home of Formula 1 in Silverstone and blogging will most definitely be resumed!
|Silverstone hosted the first World Championship Formula 1 race back in 1950 and its still going strong!|
If the race is anywhere half as exciting, frantic and stunning as the qualifying session, then we are in for a roller-coaster ride at the British Grand Prix today. To recap BOTH Ferraris and BOTH Williams were dumped out of Quali after Q1. Then in the final session Lewis Hamilton, when on provisional pole, inexplicably decided to abort his final flying lap only to watch on with horror as 5 drivers all set faster times and worst of all, his bitter rival, team-mate and no-longer-friend-and-now-nemesis, Nico Rosberg ended up as the man on pole. As days at the office go, this one was a total, abject disaster.
|Nico Rosberg - on pole position for the British Grand Prix|
So on the front row of the grid its Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel (will his shocking luck so far this season finally turn in the British Grand Prix?). Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg line up on the second row – a pairing no one would have predicted for the second row but how fantastic to see them so high up especially on a weekend where lovely tributes are being paid to Jenson’s late father, John Button. Jenson himself is sporting this fantabulous helmet for the race.
|Pink for Papa|
Time for #MartinsGridWalk and I am steeling myself for an appearance by the soon-to-be Mrs Christian Horner, La Halliwell. Thankfully first up its Eric ‘total petrolhead and occasional guitarist’ Clapton. He pointed out that Felipe is cracking on the start and predicted a top 5 finish for him. Maybe Eric should get back to strumming his guitar. Bless.
Ooooh breaking news from Ted - apparently there is an issue on Lewis’s car. There is an overheating right-rear brake and all the mechanics and tech bods are pouring over it. Lewis has reported that he could see smoke and even fire coming from it. Still its not like the race is due to begin soon or anything...oh.
Prince Harry is on the grid but he is Not Talking to the Media today. Zara wasn’t too posh to have a chat with Martin was she (back in Monza I think?). Could he really not manage a 30 second chat with lovely Martin Brundle? Whilst he is a very skilled interviewer, Martin was hardly going to rip him to shreds by interrogating him about technical stuff. Lets face it he has interviewed Geri Halliwell on the grid a few times. Bit disappointed with Harry there to be honest.
|Prince Harry - alas his thoughts on F1 will remain an enigma to us all|
Still moving on and its the demi-god that is Nigel Mansell! He isn’t too posh to speak to the public. Although he quite amusingly got temporarily distracted from the interview with Martin to give Bernie a bear hug and begin a very friendly and private conversation with Bernie. After reminding both of them they were on air, Bernie plumped for Nico and Nigel opted for Lewis as eventual winners.
Here we go then. Its time for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 red lights and they’re out. Its Go Go Go at the British Grand Prix. Nico cruises off smoothly and Vettel just goes backwards, first passed by Jenson, and then Magnussen before Hamilton squeezes past after a friendly nudge to the Red Bull.
|The fast and frantic start to the British Grand Prix|
And DRAMARAMA as we see replays of a huge shunt at the back of the field involving Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Numerous replays (much needed as the overhead camera appears to be located somewhere on Mars) show that Kimi lost control of his car, left the track, rejoined it and clipped a bump before hurtling at speed into the armco barriers. Massa deserves enormous credit for taking lightning fast evasive action to avoid a head-on crash but still got caught up in the melee.
|The aftermath of Raikkonen's horrific crash|
The race has been red-flagged and stopped. Kimi Raikkonen is clearly limping as he is taken to the medical car and poor Felipe Massa is out of the race as his car cannot be repaired in time. How desperately unlucky for Felipe in his 200th Grand Prix. Sport is cruel.
Apparently the armco has to be replaced so there’ll be no action for some time yet. I always find it totally fascinating observing the drivers in these interludes. Those who take themselves off to do a Garbo (ie. Want To Be Alone), those who take the chance to munch on a few snacks and those who spend the time endlessly debating and chatting over tactics and strategy with engineers. I'm with Nico Rosberg - give me potatoes in a fast food container!
When we do resume – the pack will be as you were – no standing restart but they will be led out behind the safety car in this order: 1. Rosberg, 2. Button, 3. Magnussen, 4. Hamilton, 5. Vettel, 6. Hulk, 7. Ricciardo, 8. Kvyat (and quite incredibly) 9. Bottas.
|The surreal restart of the British Grand Prix behind a safety car|
And at 2:05pm (one hour since the red flags) the cars are back on track, albeit under a safety car. The impact speed was measured at 47G and miraculously Kimi’s injuries aren’t too severe. His left ankle is heavily bruised but no broken bones. Fingers crossed he will be back for Hockenheim.
Right and we’re off again – wheels are turning in anger already as Bottas takes Kvyat AND Ricciardo, and meanwhile Hamilton has passed Magnusson. We have a fascinating top 3 of Rosberg, Button and Hamilton. Nope sorry spoke too soon as Hamilton easily takes Button to move into second place with a 5 second gap to race leader and no-longer-friend-and-now-nemesis, Nico Rosberg.
Bottas is now in 6th place and the husband has already invoked the memory of Gilles Villeneuve saying in a not-at-all OTT way “this could be one of THE greatest drives of all time”. And talking of great overtaking moves, Alonso executed an inch perfect move around the outside of Ricciardo to move himself up to 8th place after qualifying in 19th place (two places behind Bottas). Maybe he is another candidate for one of the greatest drives of all time (hey might as well join in the general hysteria). And Alonso is still ploughing through the field – he is now up to 7th place. The Hulk is really struggling for lack of pace and has now been passed by Ricciardo.
And its hasta la vista to Gutierrez who launched Maldonado airborne before then veering off into the gravel. As Martin Brundle observed you could pretty much apportion blame in that incident as 100% to Gutierrez. Not always Maldonado’s fault then. #justsaying
|Maldonado literally flying around Silverstone|
More misfortune for the Caterhams as Eriksson retires in what the husband described as ‘not very safe looking car’. The stewards have given Alonso a 5 second penalty for not being in the correct position at the restart. Big Fat Boo. The new Gilles Villeneuve (yes, apparently Bottas!) is now in FOURTH place. Even I have to admit he is having a very impressive race so far!
Holy cow – its only lap 14. My nerves are pretty much shredded already.
Next up in Alonso’s sights is the surely soon-to-be-passed Magnussen. Meanwhile Rosberg is getting all sorts of warnings about conserving fuel. Oooo-er. Honestly this is not Bottas-Watch but he is now in THIRD place having just scorched past Jenson Button. Unfortunately for all Bottas fans the Mercedes are several country miles ahead of the rest of the pack so there might not be much more overtaking for a while.
Remember that bit where Rosberg’s engineers told him to watch fuel. Well scrap that. He’s now been told to floor the car and really start hammering. Primarily because Lewis Hamilton is becoming an increasingly visible sight in his mirrors. And as we predicted, Rosberg has now been brought into the pits and Lewis is told over the radio that its 'Hammer Time’. I love Crofty but he must wonder where this strange phase that has made it into popular parlance has come from. Who’dve thought MC Hammer would have enriched the masses so meaningfully.
|The wordsmith of our age that is MC Hammer|
And on lap 25, the race leader, Lewis Hamilton, pits to whack on some hard tyres and looks like it was a fairly slow stop – could be crucial in a race where every second counts. Vettel meanwhile has taken advantage of a casual open door left by Magnussen to grab 6th place.
So at the half-way point (yes amazingly it is only the half-way point which is testament to how stupendous this race is!), this is how things look:
Now Hamilton has just set a fastest lap on the ‘slow’ hard tyres. This absolutely never ever happens. A Fastest Lap on Hard Tyres! Lewis Hamilton is channelling the spirit of Our Nige big time.
And SENSATIONAL SCENES (Murray Walker style). You really could not make this up. Nico Rosberg has major gearbox problems and Lewis Hamilton has blitzed past to take the lead of the British Grand Prix. Nico’s race is clearly over – what chronically awful luck. Although he desperately tried to reboot his car, nothing was doing and you can’t help but feel robbed at the titanic battle for the lead that should have been. So Hamilton now leads with Bottas in an incredible 2nd place. All we need is for a replica gearbox problem to strike down the other Mercedes and the husband shall spin off into orbit.
|Gearbox failure for Nico Rosberg|
A fantastic battle is unfolding between Vettel and Alonso for 5th place culminating in a stunning move by Alonso to retake position. How much overtaking has there been today?! Formula 1 at its absolute finest. Battle is resumed on lap 37 as Vettel takes Alonso but yet again the Ferrari muscles its way back past. Vettel is straight on the radio to complain that Alonso cut him off and was over-aggressive. Dear Sebastian, given the chief steward is Nigel Mansell, you’re going to get no joy from him in complaining about aggressive driving! So STFU and drive.
Lap 42 – Lewis pits for the final time and its hard to see what is going to stop him now. Alonso is putting on a masterclass out there – somehow managing to keep Vettel at bay causing Seb once again to freak out over the radio that Fernando didn’t leave him enough space. Duh. Its called racing. And its bloody brilliant!
|The titanic duel between Alonso and Vettel|
And on lap 48, Vettel has another go on Alonso and this time after some electrifying wheel to wheel action finally manages to get past the Ferrari. But, Sebastian, why should Alonso make it easy? Now Alonso is freaking out over the radio. Dudes, Nigel Mansell is the chief steward. Honestly just give it up!
And all of a sudden it is the final lap. Take a bow Nigel Mansell, you called it spot on by predicting a win for Lewis Hamilton. The crowd go wild in scenes reminiscent of Nigel Mansell’s win in 1992. Yes he rode his luck but still a fantastic comeback after the disaster of yesterday’s qualifying. Coming in 2nd place is Valtteri Bottas after a stupendous drive from 17th on the grid and Ricciardo just pips Button to the final place on the podium.
|Three fantastic drivers on the podium - surely they deserved better than those pieces of red tat!?|
Here are the results from a dizzyingly exciting British Grand Prix:
Hamilton – A weekend of contrasting fortunes but sealed the deal when it counted. Vital shot in the arm of the title race meaning Lewis is now just 4 points behind Nico.
Bottas – A truly Mansell-esque performace to finish 2nd (from 17th on the grid). There is no greater praise!
Ricciardo – A quietly efficient and impressive performance and yet again finished ahead of his illustrious four time champion team-mate.
Button – An excellent 4th place and came heart-breakingly close to his first podium in his home Grand Prix.
The intense duel between these two drivers in this race is one of the stand-out highlights for me this season. Utterly compelling stuff. Though much more kudos owed to Alonso who started in 19th than Vettel who was on the front row
So that was the British Grand Prix and what an absorbing and action-packed spectacle it was. And after a pretty rubbish summer for British sport it was a great result in front of an adoring home crowd. Next up, its Nico Rosberg's home race at the wonderful Hockenheim and battle will be rejoined again.
|But for now, the man of the moment (and indeed the only shining star in British sport!) is Lewis Hamilton|