British Grand Prix: Hamilton shines, Ferrari go flat, as Silverstone puts on a cracker for F1 fans

Drama around the circuit’s future, drama around Lewis Hamilton (pictured), drama on the installation lap and opening lap, drama as the race reached a climax and things fell to bits …

Even the TV commentators got in on the act, with Sky’s Martin Brundle being carted off to hospital with a nasty tummy bug.

READ MORE: Hamilton wins British Grand Prix – full race report

Owen Wilson and Disney may have been promoting the bejeesus out of Cars 3 at Silverstone all weekend but it turned out that the real box office attraction was, whaddya know, on the track.

Merc play safe, destroy opposition

The records will show a Mercedes 1-2 but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of Merc’s weekend.

Having damaged gearboxes by pushing them too hard, costing Lewis Hamilton a grid penalty previously and Valtteri Bottas a penalty this weekend, Mercedes opted for a less aggressive gearbox set-up and, boy, did it pay dividends.

Hamilton smashed qualifying, led from the start, took the fastest lap and won his fourth Silverstone race on the trot and fifth in total, equalling Jim Clark and Alain Prost. He’s untouchable here.

And all that while the controversy over his non-attendance at a London promotional event raged on in the background.

Pretty good.

Even more impressive was Bottas, who started ninth thanks to a lacklustre qualifying session and five-place grid penalty for that gearbox change, and finished second.

Bottas drove a fantastic, aggressive race but, crucially, eased off at the right times to protect his car and was ready to pounce when things started to go wrong elsewhere.

That’s how a team wins the Constructors’ Championship, bringing home maximum points even when they start on the back foot (with one driver at least).

Hamilton is now just one point adrift of Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship and the momentum is back with him.

Mercedes’ power meant they could afford to be more conservative with their gearboxes but, just along the pitlane, Ferrari were pushing everything to the limit – and beyond.

Why it all felt a bit flat for Ferrari

This should have been a solid weekend for the Maranello team, starting second and third in cars that, even if they couldn’t catch Hamilton, were more than capable of staying ahead of the rest of the pack.

It wasn’t to be. The end of this race will be seared into Ferrari fans’ minds for years to come, as front left punctures for both Raikkonen and then Vettel knocked the Ferrari pair from second and third down to third (phew…) and seventh.

Vettel’s seventh reflected a poor race day – an epic battle with Max Verstappen early in the race held him up and forced him to push the car harder than he might otherwise have done.

Raikkonen looked racy all day – he was never going to catch Hamilton, but a second place looked his for the taking.

Then there were those punctures, sticking both Ferraris in the pits with a couple of laps to go.

It’s believed Ferrari had opted for an aggressive suspension set-up, that may well have put their tyres under additional stress, though they weren’t the only team experiencing tyre issues – Red Bull pulled in Max Verstappen when they became nervous about his front left tyre too.

Ferrari’s aggression, on a weekend when Merc were able to dial back the pressure on their own cars, looks to have been too much.

It wasn’t just the team that was pushing the limits on what those tyres could cope with.

Vettel put in barnstorming laps after his scheduled, earlier, pitstop – as, coincidentally, did Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Why is this significant?

Because the tyres on an F1 car have to be treated in a very particular way if they are to perform properly.

While it is possible to use fresh rubber to put in some super-fast laps after a pitstop, overheating the tyres early will damage them, and you’ll pay the price later. Vettel’s tyres were simply worn out, Raikkonen’s had delaminated – the tread layer had separated from the rest of the tyre underneath.

In contrast, Bottas’ approach was far less attention-grabbing and far more effective.

His initial laps on new tyres were, relatively speaking, pretty ordinary but he was managing the temperatures and tyre degradation much more effectively.

And so, as Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen all pitted near race end, he continued on his merry way, quietly nailing second place on a weekend when a podium of any sort seemed like a big ask.

Good effort that man.

Those brilliant Bully boys

One way or another, Red Bull always manage to entertain.

This weekend, both drivers played a blinder.

Daniel Ricciardo started second-last after engine problems during qualifying, but dragged his car up to a quite remarkable fifth, overtaking left, right and centre and enjoying the odd off-track excursion along the way.

To say he was stoked afterwards doesn’t quite sum him up. Like a kid who’s eaten all the orange chocolates, Ricciardo was babbling like a loon in the press enclosure – don’t get me wrong, that’s no criticism, he’d earned the right to a babble.

He told one reporter he needed to get some sugar in his system and then signed off by saying: ‘Next we’re off to Hungary. And I’m hungry…’

His team-mate Verstappen made a little more sense, although he too was understandably happy with a fourth-place finish – one of the few times his car has actually made it to the finish line this season.

In the first phase of the race, Verstappen had a fantastic battle with Vettel, the pair trading places and blows from the start.

Verstappen overtook Vettel at lights-out, only for Vettel to grab the place back as the Dutchman tried a move on Raikkonen.

But Verstappen re-took third and held off challenge after challenge from Vettel, frustrating the German and, inevitably, leading to Vettel complaining over the radio on lap 14: ‘He wants to play bumper cars or something.’ Chuckle, Vettel knows plenty about playing bumper cars…

In the end, Vettel passed Verstappen thanks to slicker work by his pit crew … but Vettel’s late puncture would undo all that work.

While plenty of people made Hamilton their driver of the day thanks to his utter dominance, a perfectly good case could be made for Ricciardo, Verstappen or Bottas as well.

There really was that much great driving going on at Silverstone.

Who’s screwing up? Oh, hello Mr Kvyat

The Life and Times of Daniil Kvyat, F1 Torpedo; Chapter 19, in which our Daniil (pictured) gets involved in a collision, again, involving a team-mate, again, and gets a penalty, again. And a couple of points on his licence to add to the seven he already has.

And denies it was his fault, again.

This time Kvyat got as far as Chapel on the first lap before he and Toro Rosso cohort Carlos Sainz tangled. Sainz was out (‘Yeah, all OK, you can bill Danny, he did a very good job,’ he told the team) and Kvyat was given a drive-through penalty for rejoining the track unsafely and bumping into Sainz.

While Red Bull are making progress and keeping us all entertained with their antics, their junior team Toro Rosso are… well, keeping us all entertained too, albeit with a Keystone Cops approach to the sport.

Sainz wants to leave Toro Rosso – the rumour-mill suggests he and Renault may find some common ground, though it is nothing more than rumour at this stage – and Kvyat, well, the choice to leave is not really going to be his to make.

His response to the drive-through penalty was not fit to be shared but his continued inability to keep out of trouble, despite his history of crashes, penalties and demotions, means few will take his opinion on the crash seriously anyway.

He always gives us something to talk about though…

Other team-mates got a little close for comfort too – the Force Indias of Ocon and Perez kept it fairly civil this time, and came home eighth and ninth as a result. And the Saubers showed a distinct lack of brotherly love, touching in Stowe, but without troubling the stewards.

Special mention to Jolyon Palmer, who didn’t get the chance to show what he can do in front of a home crowd, his Renault retiring on the installation lap with hydraulic failure.

His team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg, drove the other Renault home to an impressive 6th position, and his elation after the race was in stark contrast to the ever-under-pressure Palmer, who said to one reporter: ‘It’s over…’ Wonder what he meant?

Silverstone, down but not out

The Northamptonshire circuit may or may not be nearing the end of its tenure as the home of F1 in Britain but, either way, it delivered a peach of a weekend.

Properly exciting qualifying, fantastic overtaking, drivers battling 5.5g in the most brutal corners, pantomime heroes and villains, and – quite remarkably – value for money even though the price of admission won’t leave you any change from anything.

A home-grown winner didn’t hurt, nor did Hamilton’s crowdsurfing (pictured) and charity efforts over the weekend and – wonder of wonders – Jenson Button finally made it on to the Silverstone podium, albeit as an interviewer.

Who said there were no surprises in F1?

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