Lewis Hamilton crowd surfs following his home triumph
(Photo from: www.skysports.com)
Lewis Hamilton made it three consecutive home Grand Prix victories and in doing so, closed the gap to a single point to Nico Rosberg at the top of the championship standings after the German was demoted to third after he received at 10 second penalty for banned radio communications.
It was also Hamilton’s third consecutive victory in 2016 and the win never looked in doubt, after a strong weekend which saw him start from pole, despite a scare when his first lap was discounted after he exceeded track limits at the high speed Copse corner.
Nico Rosberg lined up alongside in second to make it another all Mercedes front row, with the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo on row 2. It was the first time this season that Ricciardo had been out qualified by a teammate. Kimi Räikkönen was fifth followed by Valtteri Bottas. Sebastian Vettel would have been sixth but for a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Carlos Sainz Jr, Nico Hulkenburg, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.
Race day, and even before the race had started the action had begun as a sudden downpour just before the race left the track with rivers running through it and areas of standing water. Despite the sun being out the decision was to start the race under the safety car meaning that all drivers had to start the race on wets.
To the annoyance of some drivers the safety car stayed out until the end of lap 5 by which time the circuit was beginning to dry creating a hive of activity in the pits as multiple drivers came in to swap to intermediate tyres once the safety car had peeled off. However the top four did not come in immediately leaving Hamilton to stretch a gap at the front.
Those who didn’t pit were effectively rewarded for their decision as the virtual safety car was activated a lap later while Pascal Wehrlein’s stricken Manor was recovered after the young German aquaplaned at Abbey after changing onto intermediates. This gave the leaders their chance to pit without losing too much to their rivals, as they were restricted to a slower pace on circuit.
The top three retained their positions while the biggest winner was Sergio Perez who jumped from tenth to fourth ahead of Ricciardo, after the Australian had to queue in the pits behind Verstappen.
Despite developing a comfortable gap over teammate, Hamilton was not the fastest man on track as that accolade went to Verstappen who was quickly closing in on Rosberg. The German withstood the pressure for a number of laps until lap 16 when he made a small mistake around Becketts allowing the Red Bull driver to seize on his chance with a fantastic move leading onto the Hanger Straight.
By lap 16 the track was potentially dry enough for slick tyres with Vettel making the move to be the first onto slicks. Others quickly followed suit with the top three all coming in by lap 20 as Hamilton only lost the lead for a lap as Verstappen took over.
The drying track was causing problems for many drivers with parts of the track still wet such as Abbey, which saw many drivers, including Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel spin at after hitting a damp patch just at the turning point of the flat out right. Remarkably Alonso was able to continue despite brushing the wall however Rio Haryanto was not as fortunate.
Hamilton was also caught out by the damp patch, though Verstappen was not able to capitalise as he too ran wide, and in doing so, allowed Rosberg to close. Five laps later, and the German was into second, overtake the young Dutchman around the outside at Stowe on lap 38.
This is how the top three would stay until the end however with 2 laps to go, Rosberg found himself stuck in seventh gear at the exit of Club, which resulted in a banned radio communication with his team leaving him with a 10 second time penalty, which elevated Verstappen back to second.
However Hamilton’s win was never in doubt and took a dominate victory in front of his endearing home fans, Verstappen and Rosberg finished second and third after Rosberg received his reprimand. Riccardo finished a lonely fourth ahead of Kimi Räikkönen who overtook Perez towards the end of the race. Perez would remain in sixth ahead of his teammate by under a second with Carlos Sainz Jr finishing eighth, Vettel ninth and Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top 10.
It was a fantastic race helped tremendously by the pre race rain. However Silverstone has a habit of creating some of the best racing of the year, as does Hungary, Formula 1’s next stop.