The British Grand Prix is always somewhat of a spectacle. With a rich and proud tradition of motorsport and Formula One in this country, many commentators, teams and drivers point to the fast sweeping Silverstone course as one of their favourite to test their metal against on the F1 Calendar. But, the first of two races at the Historic Silverstone was hardly a classic… up until the final few laps that is.
To be fair to the first 49 laps of Sunday’s race, it was not without incident. One of the most frustrating happening before the cars even lined up on the grid with the returning Niko Hulkenberg unable to even start the race after a well documented 48 hours of rushing from his breakfast croissant, to qualifying in just three days. Many could not believe their eyes as Niko trudged out the back of the garage in his fresh pink race suit, cursing his luck once more in F1 on a race weekend that up until Q2 had promised so much for the likeable German.
Just 2 laps into the race, Alexander Albon decided he could wait no longer to get past Kevin Magnussen, the Thai licenced driver eager to squeeze one up the inside before starting another lap: Perhaps knowing the dangers of being stuck behind KMag, or perhaps another example of his over-eagerness to make a pass (the pressure of the seat?), either way the Haas driver was sent spinning into the barriers, his afternoon over and a 5 second penalty handed to the Red Bull man. Former Red Bull man Dannil Kvyat then brought out another safety car, losing the car at high speed form a suspected right rear puncture and allowing most top teams to come in for a tyre change onto the hard compound and push through on a one stop strategy.
And that was essentially it for 30 or so laps for the front four drivers, each running their own race with the Mercedes trading fastest laps but nothing seemed likely to interupt the flow of Lewis, Valtteri, Max or Charles, and whilst the midfield DRS provided us with some moments of entertainment the race had settled into another easy 1-2 afternoon for the Mercedes team, another final podium spot for Max and another chance for Charles to show how much more he can gather out of that Ferrari than Seb… then it all kicked off.
With just three laps to go the loads put through the ageing Pirelli tyres became just two much for some. Bottas’ front left failing allowing Max Vertsappen to scoot past into second place and Charles LeClerc out of nowhere suddenly into the podium places. Just a few corners behind Carlos Sainz suffering the same fate to fall from what would have been a handy points haul from P5 to slip out of the scoring zone entirely. And then in true dramatic fashion Lewis Hamilton was sparking up the tarmac with his left front also failing and the AWS graphic revealing a 31 second gap to Max Verstappen in the ‘Battle for 1st’ – and for a moment or two it seemed like the Dutch driver might have a chance to catch the reigning Wold Champion.
But, as the excitement from the commentary team calmed down, it became apparebt the Brit was just to far ahead to be caught, the only hope for Red Bull being the tyre to rip some more from the car and slow the Brit down substantially, something which for Lewis, fortunatly did not happen.
With the softer compound tyres on offer for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, it is likely we will see a more stop heavy race next weekend, but I would be surprised if anything but a Lewis win is truly on the cards.