Hamilton untouchable at Silverstone but race far from over

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer might have exchanged notes prior to their respective outings at their favourite events, for Hamilton led the British Grand Prix from start to finish, while Federer, for the first time at Wimbledon, won without dropping a set for the entire championship.

Hamilton grabbed pole position in emphatic fashion on Saturday, more than half a second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with Sebastian Vettel third on the grid.

Hamilton managed to maintain the lead right from the start. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, jinxed not to finish in five out of the last seven races, persisted at the first few corners to get the better of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas who started ninth had by the sixth lap gone up to sixth. The race got a lot more interesting on the eighth lap when the flying Finn overtook Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg to set his sights on the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Having started in nineteenth position, the smiling Australian, Daniel Ricciardo had a huge task ahead of him if he was to finish within the points. By the tenth lap, he had moved up to fourteenth and had Fernando Alonso’s McLaren Honda as his next ‘victim’.

Vettel, prevented from clean air by Verstappen, eventually crafted a move to overtake the teenager on the 14th lap. Things didn’t go according to Vettel’s plan as Verstappen was able to aggressively defend.

Hamilton meanwhile set the fastest lap. There was tension at the Ferrari crew as they saw Bottas closing in on their man all because of a stubborn Verstappen.

By the fifteenth lap, Bottas was less than 1.5 seconds behind Vettel. Three laps later, Ferrari opted to pit the German seeking the undercut against Verstappen.

The plan worked perfectly, particularly because what was meant to be a clean pit-stop for the Dutchman, who came in in the next lap, was not so leaving Vettel to comfortably grab third position as the Red Bull was exiting the pits.

The joy of the success of the undercut by Vettel would be tested to the limit given that he now had to handle 33 laps on the new tyres.

Raikkonen made his pit-stop on the 25th lap. A lap later, Hamilton also went in for fresh tyres, with an efficient 2.3-second changeover ensuring that he still maintained his lead, increasing the possibility of a pole to flag race at his home grand prix.

Bottas was ordered to box on the 32nd lap and by that time, only Ricciardo had managed to gain more positions than the Finn in the race; 13 positions to sixth place compared to the Finn’s seven positions to second.

Ricciardo pitted in the next lap and excited the crowd overtaking the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, then the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in quick succession.

Meanwhile, Bottas was closing down on the Ferraris and in the 43rd lap, attempted to overtake Vettel. The German defended much like Verstappen had done against him.

In the next lap however, Vettel had no form of defence as the Mercedes swept past. A puncture two laps from the finish saw Raikkonen get overtaken by Bottas and make his way into the pits while Red Bull called in Verstappen.

There was more misery for the Ferraris as Vettel suffered the same fate as Raikkonen, having to pit in the penultimate lap of the race. Ferrari’s tyre strategy at Silverstone had just turned catastrophic.

The silver lining however rested on Hamilton who won his home grand prix for the fifth time and cut Vettel’s lead to just one point from twenty, while Bottas’ superb drive gave him second and Raikkonen snatched the final podium position.

Vettel finished seventh behind Hulkenberg and the two Red Bulls, taking home six points.


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