British GP: brilliant from start to finish

2019-07-17 06:00

BY just six milliseconds, Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position for the British Grand Prix from Lewis Hamilton. It was as important a pole position as Bottas had ever had – beat Hamilton at Silverstone and you send a pretty emphatic message.

And Bottas did everything right on Sunday too. He led cleanly from the start and held teammate Hamilton behind for the first laps of the race. And though Hamilton was able to take the lead of the race into Luffield corner, Bottas hit back straight away to retake P1 into Copse corner. It remained fairly close and as they gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, Bottas seemed to have it all under control.

Though Ferrari and Red Bull were unable to match the Mercedes race pace, a tasty battle that lasted for the majority of the race raged between the four drivers. First it was Charles Leclerc against Max Verstappen and, although it wasn’t for the lead of the race as in Austria, it was every bit as exhilarating.

Verstappen, somewhat quicker, tried everything to get past the Ferrari driver but just couldn’t pull it off on the track.

The two pitted together and some brilliant work from the Red Bull crew had Verstappen emerge ahead of Leclerc. The joy would be short-lived though as Verstappen ran wide out of the pits and allowed the Ferrari back into third.

Up front, Bottas pitted from the lead while Hamilton stayed out. It proved a vital decision as Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo in the gravel trap. It prompted the deployment of the safety car and handed Hamilton a free pitstop and the lead of the British Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel, too, gained as a result of the safety car and emerged in third place.

Ferrari had, once again, called a baffling strategy for Leclerc that left the Monegasque driver in sixth overall after being brilliantly dispatched by Verstappen.

Verstappen quickly eased past teammate Pierre Gasly and was soon on the gearbox of Vettel’s Ferrari. A brilliant overtake into Stowe saw Verstappen ahead of Vettel only for the Ferrari driver to misjudge his braking and slam into the back of the Red Bull. It sent both drivers into the gravel trap but able to rejoin the race.

While Vettel limped back to the pits with a broken front wing, Verstappen, miraculously, raced on and eventually finished fifth.

Vettel was, rightfully, handed a 10-second penalty for causing the collision. Though never intentional, the incident was definitely questionable. For one, Ferrari will do well to admit that they are no longer the second quickest car on the grid. That’s Red Bull.

Secondly, while four-time champion Vettel may be one of the top drivers in F1, his driving over the last season and a half, is alarming.

Ahead, Bottas would likely feel hard done by the safety car but that’s part of motor racing.

The Finn had to settle for second while Hamilton scored a record-breaking sixth British GP win. Leclerc drove through the carnage of the crash to take a fourth consecutive podium finish. And in a very timely fashion, Gasly secured his best finish of the season in fourth.

It was an overtaking extravaganza, with Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo finishing less than a second apart in sixth and seventh. In eighth was Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Daniil Kvyat in ninth and Nico Hulkenberg in 10th.

The British Grand Prix delivered a race brimful of entertainment which makes the news that it will be on the F1 calendar for at least five more years all the sweeter.

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