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Winners and Losers: British GP Sunday 5th July 2015


Star of the Race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
Lewis showed from Turns 1, 2 and 3 on the opening lap that this was a race he wasn’t going to give up in a hurry. Despite both Mercs having low grip off the line and getting mugged by Massa, then Bottas, Lewis wasn’t prepared to let it ruin his whole day and shouldered his way back past Bottas.

He was over-aggressive in trying to make a move on leader Massa at the re-start, which cost him a place, but the important thing was that he kept ahead of Rosberg, and so kept the right to the undercut.

After the pit-stops, Lewis was in complete control, and running 1st with Rosberg 4th (behind two specialist podium preservationists) and the afternoon could have turned out really well. But the rain was always going to arrive, and as we found out, the Williams may work well in the dry but they’re a handful in the wet.

When the rain started Lewis was actually quite conservative and Massa started closing up on him and Lewis had just a 3.7 seconds lead on Lap 42. On Lap 43 Lewis made the call to pit and it was right on the money. Rosberg thought that he’d gone a lap too early.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 21: Valtteri Bottas on Nico Rosberg for P3
This was less of a conventional overtake, but Rosberg had got marginally in front of Bottas when Valtteri came in for his pit-stop.

Valtteri looked to have been handed the raw deal, as he was going to be the last of the four leaders in for a pit-stop where the undercut was a clear advantage. Left on his own in the lead he proceeded to put in personal best sectors on his in-lap, took on the hard tyres and exited the pitlane to find Rosberg coming past him up the inside. Valtteri left his car there and came round the outside of Rosberg obliging the Mercedes driver to give him room or accept some contact.

Bottas then had the line for the next corner and was back into P3.

Ironically, the Williams cars are so poor in the wet right now that whatever he did, he was going to lose out to the Mercedes – more surprisingly, it was team-mate Massa who started to go away from him in the light rain. And once they were double-stacked for tyres, that was that.

Winners

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
Rosberg played the patient game, in an afternoon when a single wrong decision could have had disastrous consequences.
Niki Lauda admitted afterwards that had it not rained, they would have struggled to get Nico past the two Williams cars.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 3rd
Sebastian did what he does best – excel in mixed conditions. He’s done it ever since his debut win at Monza for Toro Rosso and after a low-profile first half to the race, picked his moment to go onto Inters to perfection and snatched a podium.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 4th
Felipe left the line like a scalded at. It was reminiscent of some of the stellar starts he made in his Ferrari days. He managed to keep Valtteri Bottas at bay in the opening stint and Nico Rosberg at bay down the pitlane (it would have been interesting to see Massa vs Hamilton in that situation).
Once the track got damp the Williams turned into a different beast and afterwards Claire Williams was keen to emphasize that there would be an investigation into how they can improve performance in those situations.

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 6th
Kvyat was running at Ferrari pace for most of the race and the team were conservative in calling him in for Inters. In that extra lap that he had to put in on slicks he had a half spin. Without it, he would have closed and passed Valtteri Bottas before the end of the race. His performance was yet another two fingers stuck up to the people who were doubting him after the first few races of this season. And let’s not forget he outqualified his blue chip team-mate again.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force india, 7th
Sergio Perez, Force India 9th
What a debut for the 2015 car, the B-spec Force India rocketed off the line in the hands of Nico Hulkenberg and what Massa was doing at the front of the field, Nico was doing to pass three cars and grab 5th place from the two Ferraris.

Nico had just passed the pitlane entry when the rain started to bucket down and so he missed out on the right moment to pit for Inters, but 7th was probably the summit of his Silverstone ambitions. Perez kept out of trouble too.
Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda, 10th
El Nano wasn’t getting too excited about collecting a single point, but he managed to do a race distance, which is still a bit of an achievement for the ERS-vulnerable, leaky-hydraulic, cranky old Honda power unit.

At least he didn’t make it five retirements in a row, although it’s the second race in a row where he’s had to take avoiding action for cars crashing in front of him. In many respects he was lucky to have a car robust enough to continue.

Losers

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 8th
As Kimi admitted after the race, it was his call to come in for Inters when in retrospect it was too dry for Inters, and he changed what was a potential podium position into 8th place. When he came in for tyres Vettel was behind him, so he could have been up there had the rain gods smiled and given him more wet when he had the tyres for it.

Lotus
Double DNF
It’s still tricky to work out what happened to the two Lotus cars at the start. On the surface it looked as though Maldonado bounced into Grosjean and took his team-mate off and then Alonso spun in avoiding the melee and took out Jenson Button. But from the helicopter camera it was clear that Daniel Ricciardo had squeezed up the inside at an impossible angle to take the corner, braked late and bounced into Maldonado – pushing him into Gropsjean. So, yet again, another race where Maldonado gets involved in an accident at the start that is not of his own making. He couldn’t have allowed more room to Ricciardo because he had Grosjean on his sidepod.

Lotus’s Alan Permayne was generous afterwards not wishing to point the blame. “It’s Turn 3 and you’re always going to have cars bunched up there, and if you wanted to blame anyone you could say that Ricciardo braked too late, but really it was a racing incident.”

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, DNF
Verstappen’s spin and race retirement looked like all his own work – which was a pity, because it would have been great to see what he could have done in the wet.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, DNF
The honey badger got a poor start off the line and was sucked into a fight with ‘The Contact Club’ (the cars most likely to exchange carbon fibre) As Christian Horner admitted. “Dan got a bit cosey with the Lotuses on the opening lap.” He lost places, struggled to make progress in the race and ended up retiring with a problem loosely described as “electrical”.

Pirelli
The BBC were keen to big up the fact that this was an ‘exciting’ race, but in truth it was a race full of tension, rather than excitement. And it was only thanks to the arrival of rain that we got that. Pirelli’s objective was to provide tyres that give us two pit-stops – and that wasn’t going to happen.

The 140,000 Silverstone crowd would have still lapped up a Hamilton victory after the team grabbed the advantage with the first pit-stop, but it would have been very processional.

Quotes of the Race
“We don’t have enough employees to have rain spotters,” Graeme Lowdon, Manor-Marussia

Suzi Perry to David Coulthard after DC complained of being cold after the race: “You’re Scottish, for goodness sake, man up!”

Will Stevens “I got the call to come in and when I came in they weren’t waiting for me…”

Andrew Davies