Nick van der Muelen, our resident F1 fundi, brings us this F1 review Britain 2019.
Well! What a Grand Prix that was! Lots of drama and mayhem, along with some phenomenal racecraft from the young lions of the sport, to add spice to the 2019 British F1 Grand Prix. Seeing the action out front between dueling youngsters will leave the old guard satisfied that the future of the sport is in good hands…now, it’s up to the powers-that-be with regard to future rule changes.
Click here to read about the SA lad heading to the top-flight MotoGP class.
It was also a day of records. Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a safety car to sneak into the lead and streak to an unprecedented sixth victory at Silverstone, surpassing the five British GP victories of Clark and Prost, respectively, and the 80th of his career.
To rub more salt into the wounds of teammate Valtteri Bottas, the English world champion stole the point for fastest lap on the final lap of the race! The partisan crowd loved every second of it and they roared their approval throughout. Mercedes is back at the top of the podium – the 83rd time in the last 110 races.
Bottas did everything that he could on the day, but the strategy planned also played against him, as he had to pit in the dying stages of the race because his first stop saw him take on the same compound of rubber he began the race on. He walked away with second place, but was clearly frustrated with the result.
The duel between Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Austrian GP winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) was, arguably, the finest duel of the 2019 season to date. The passes between the two young lions were phenomenal: hard, fair racing…obviously stemming from the short battle at Spielberg.
The safety car, released to extricate the stricken Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, saw Ferrari bring in Leclerc for the second time and drop him behind the two Red Bulls, while team mate Sebastian Vettel ran third. This led to the Monegasque questioning as to what happened – not for the first time this season.
This led to a duel between Leclerc and Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly. Again, Leclerc demonstrated superb racecraft which saw him outfox the Frenchman for position, which was, ultimately, the final step of the podium. Gasly will be relieved to have demonstrated his strongest form of the season after the team provided him with his team mate’s base settings in the hope to see a turnaround in form…
In the gravel
The deciding duel of the Grand Prix, though, was that between Verstappen and Vettel while fighting for third place. The Red Bull pilot performed a superb passing manoeuvre, powering past the German around the outside. Barely two corners later, the four-time world champion produced a rookie mistake as he rear-ended the Dutchman under braking! You can see that accident here.
The incident demonstrated the strength of both vehicles, as they managed to rejoin and complete the race. Verstappen recovered to finish 5th, behind Leclerc and Gasly, while Vettel finished at the tail of the field after receiving a 10-second penalty. Verstappen has finished in the top five for the 19th consecutive time – a clear indication that the hothead has matured.
Picking up points
Carlos Sainz (McLaren-Renault) and Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) vied for the title of “best of the rest”, the Spaniard narrowly edging out the “Honey Badger” for 6th place. Kimi Raikkonen drove his Alfa Romeo to a solid 8th place, while Danil Kyvat (Toro Rosso Honda) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) took the remaining points-paying positions.
A special mention should be made for local heroes Lando Norris (McLaren-Renault), who ran strongly in the points for much of the race, and George Russell (Williams-Mercedes) who had his best F1 finish to date driving the slowest machine on track.
The F1 circus moves to Hockenheim, Germany: Vettel’s home turf. The Ferrari driver is a mere 5 points ahead of his young teammate and he will want to stamp his authority over his rivals here. It has also been the venue of his greatest anguish, where he ran off into the barriers while commandingly leading the race. Of course, we will remember. To the German, this is a distant memory. This is also Mercedes’s home turf and nothing will give him greater satisfaction than to embarrass Mercedes at home. Expect the battle between them to be intense!