British GP 2016: Race Reflections on Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton did the incredible and won his fourth British GP – but it was a bit of a damp squib of a race.

This was also my sixth British Grand Prix. My dad first took me along in 2010, the year after I happened to glance up at the TV to see a Brawn GP car and become instantly hooked. We sat at Copse corner – then turn one – and it is still one of the best races I’ve ever been too. Visits to Spa, Monaco, Austria, and Germany have followed, but Silverstone continues to have a special hold over my heart.

The podium in 2010 looked out onto a grandstand packed with fans, and from where we were sitting you could see straight into the pit garages. The noise of the cars went right through you. It was exhilarating.

The British summer is unpredictable, and no matter how accurate your preferred source of weather forecast claims to be, you’ll be guaranteed to get both burnt and caught in a rain shower over the course of one weekend at Silverstone. This year was no different.

(I sat at a hard-fought-after table as the heavens opened on Sunday just before the race, because I had bought my parents champagne for their anniversary and wasn’t giving up my table for anyone.)

Rather than a race report, I’ve decided to do something a bit different this time out, so please enjoy my British GP Race Reflections.

The rain came, but it was too much too soon

It started to bucket it down 90 minutes before the race (see above paragraph re my stubbornness over a table). The Porsche support race was started under the safety car, but failed to dry out the track in time for the main event.

The track and fans were sodden, but the potential for an exciting, topsy-turvy race created a buzz among the crowds. The best races so far this season have featured an upset – less than optimal conditions are the greatest opportunity for other teams to take the fight to Mercedes.

The start could have been amazing, as the drivers fought to keep control and master the first corner. Verstappen or Ricciardo could have made a better getaway than the Mercedes and jumped them, and then we would see how the Silver Arrows mounted a challenge to regain the lead of the race.

Only the race was started under the safety car, and the cars snaked their way around nose to tail for the first few laps. Once the safety car was finally recalled to the pits, Hamilton bolted off into the distance, and no one really saw much of him again for the rest of the race. It felt like we were robbed of a spectacular start.

The British fans enjoyed a British winner

Many drivers have said that the British fans are the best in the world, because we love good racing. We’ll cheer on anyone who wins or does an incredible job in a race, because we are fair and sporting.

But we’re still biased to our bones.

Jenson Button has had no luck around Silverstone, and it continues to show him no love whatsoever. Jolyon Palmer’s debut was a race to forget, a shame given how much he was looking forward to the race all season.

But Lewis Hamilton didn’t fail the crowds, and other than a little hiccough in the final qualifying session didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. The fans loved it, he loved them. Moreover, British teams clinched six of ten points scoring positions – not a bad day in the office.

Hamilton is now only one point behind teammate Nico Rosberg with two more races to go before the summer break. In his current flying form, it’s hard to imagine anyone else leading the Championship as we leave the German GP.

Mercedes pushed the radio ban to its limit – and beyond – but is this the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Rosberg was stripped of his well-earned second place after Mercedes were deemed to have breached the much-criticised radio ban.

Rosberg was nearing retirement in the race with a terminal issue with his gearbox. His engineer screamed instructions down the airwaves to return to a default position, which solved the issues and allowed Rosberg to continue to race. This is perfectly in line with the regulations.

The problem was the engineer then told Rosberg to avoid using seventh gear, which was deemed to be in breach of the rule as it was not a technical instruction, but rather ‘coaching’ the driver on how to drive the car.

The punishment handed down was ten second time penalty, which promoted Verstappen to second. However the repercussions of Mercedes’ interpretation of the rules and the subsequent penalty have opened up a can of worms that will be difficult to control. Will the rule still be in place when it returns to Belgium, when it was initially introduced?

Everyone went off at Abbey

No really, everyone. Turn One was the place to be to watch the world’s best drivers try to keep their beasts under control, though unfortunately not everyone succeeded. Pascal Wehrlein beached himself in the gravel trap. Not to be outdone by his teammate, Rio Haryanto soon followed him. The rest of those who took a detour onto the runoff managed to rejoin the race track with no issues, and entertained those in the grandstands with some very-near misses.

A classic race just didn’t quite come together

It had all the ingredients for an unmissable race, but in the end it was safe and predictable like a British stereotype.

But next time out is Hungary, one of the most exciting and unforgiving racetracks on the circuit. The Mercedes failed to finish on the podium in 2015, and could only managed third in 2014. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have been the most recent stars of the Hungarian GP: who’s turn will it be in 2016?

2016 British GP race results

  1. Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
  2. Max Verstappen RED BULL
  3. Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
  4. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
  5. Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
  6. Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
  7. Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA
  8. Carlos Sainz Jr TORO ROSSO
  9. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
  10. Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
  11. Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
  12. Jenson Button MCLAREN
  13. Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
  14. Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
  15. Felipe Nasr SAUBER
  16. Esteban Gutierrez HAAS

DNF: Pascal Wehrlein (MANOR); Rio Haryatno (MANOR); Jolyon Palmer (RENAULT); Kevin Magnussen (RENAULT); Romain Grosjean (HAAS); Marcus Ericsson (SAUBER)

The Hungarian GP is on 24th July 2016.

 

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