Hamilton rides wave of home support for fourth Silverstone win

2016 British Grand Prix review

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Lewis Hamilton had a rocky start to his bid for a fourth world championship but he drew a line under it in emphatic style in front of his home crowd.

For the third year in a row, Silverstone was fortress Hamilton. Even the pre-race shower which doused the circuit seemed to play into his hands as Nico Rosberg floundered in the wet conditions.

Hamilton’s near-blunder

Safety Car, Silverstone, 2016
The Safety Car stayed out for five laps
The cars had assembled on the grid when, with superb timing, clouds amassed over Silverstone and dumped their contents over the assembled drivers, dignitaries and somewhere north of 100,000 fans.

A desire to please television schedules means race starts seldom get postponed these days. With major tennis and football finals scheduled on the same day, waiting for the track to drain a little so a standing start might be possible was never going to be an option.

Instead we had five laps behind the Safety Car, which many drivers felt was too many. As Bernd Maylander headed for the pit lane he was followed by ten drivers each seeking to swap their mandated set of wet weather tyres for intermediates.

Hamilton closest brush with disaster came moments before the pack was released. Alternately accelerating and slowing to generate temperature in his brakes and tyres, he almost pranged into the Safety Car.

“I’d glazed my rear brakes and they were really low on temperature so I was trying to pick them up,” he explained.

“The Safety Car’s so slow, you can’t imagine. I’m sure he’s going as fast as possible but our car is so fast that… and you can’t see really that well even behind the Safety Car. There’s a lot of spray but yeah, I braked and the thing wasn’t stopping. So I nearly hit the Safety Car. It’s a first. Fortunately I didn’t.”

Hamilton executed the rolling start perfectly and left Rosberg to deal with a fired-up Max Verstappen. The RB12 was finding purchase through the moisture which lesser chassis could not, and paying close attention to Rosberg’s car through the spray.

Ricciardo looked potentially quicker, and on lap six dived to the pits for intermediates. It might have paid off had Pascal Wehrlein – one of the first onto intermediates – not dumped his Manor into the Abbey gravel bed.

The Virtual Safety Car was summoned, and those yet to pit seized on the opportunity to make their intermediate tyre switch while losing minimal time. Ricciardo lost ten seconds in an instant and fell behind the late-stopping Sergio Perez. That left just one Red Bull hounding Rosberg.

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Verstappen’s stunning pass

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2016
Verstappen stunned Rosberg at Becketts
Hamilton’s lead over Rosberg was little more than four seconds at this stage. Verstappen had slipped around three seconds behind his quarry after the VSC, but as the intermediates wore down and the track reached the crossover point for slicks he was bearing down on the silver car again.

Renault’s power unit upgrade may have reinvigorated Red Bull’s pursuit of Mercedes but it’s still no match on the straights, so Verstappen was going to have to get creative. He did just that on lap 15, stunning Rosberg by sweeping around the outside of Becketts, a place overtaking Formula One cars seldom tread.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel, who had started 11th after a gearbox change penalty, became the first driver to risk a switch to slicks. This proved ideal timing, but the damp surface either side of the narrow band of dry track proved treacherous, and three laps later Vettel spun away his hard-won advantage and more. He was far from the last to be caught out.

The rest were quick to follow Vettel: Mercedes performed their second double-stop of the race on lap 17. Verstappen played it safe, hanging on one lap more, yet retaining his advantage over Rosberg. And with the track still drying he even began making inroads of his own until lap 22, when he ran wide. Hamilton had a moment of his own at Abbey six laps later, and Verstappen almost followed him.

“It’s very difficult because I think when everybody touched the water sometimes the spray goes to the left so you just approach it exactly the same way but suddenly you pick up a little bit of water on the tyre and you just slide off,” Verstappen explained.

“I think Lewis went off and I went off on the same lap so I think because of the spray it comes onto the normal racing line and then you have a bit of a moment when you have to go off.”

Rosberg and Verstappen swap places

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2016
Rosberg got back ahead of Verstappen – temporarily
As the racing line dried out fully, the superior performance of the Mercedes told. Verstappen dropped back from Hamilton and soon had Rosberg breathing down his neck. It appeared to be an inevitability that Rosberg would eventually sweep by with DRS, but at the wheel he was working hard to maximise his advantage.

“You’re playing around with your ERS deployment, I’m trying to get him to empty his battery so that then I can have a good shot – but then when his was empty mine was empty too. So that didn’t work.” The pass was eventually made, with DRS and little drama, on the Hangar straight.

Rosberg began edging into his team mate’s advantage but by then Hamilton had already turned his engine down, mindful of his disadvantageous situation in terms of engine life. There was also tyre degradation to beware of: Pirelli had advised teams not to go beyond 28 laps on the medium compound. Hamilton completed 35 with little trouble, as did almost every other driver who saw the chequered flag.

However Rosberg’s run to the chequered flag was less straightforward. Six laps from home the Mercedes jammed in seventh gear, and Rosberg lost over three seconds in his pursuit of his team mate. As with Hamilton’s problem in Baku, Mercedes faced the dilemma of how much help they could risk offering without falling foul of the strict new radio rules.

After notifying him of a settings change, Mercedes also advised Rosberg on how to change gears to minimise the problem. After lengthy post-race deliberations the stewards agreed this went too far, and handed Rosberg a time penalty which dropped him behind Verstappen in the final classification.

Raikkonen recovers fifth

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2016
Ferrari expected to struggle at Silverstone
Ricciardo finished a lonely, bored fourth after losing out due to the VSC. Perez squandered part of the benefit he had gained from it by spinning, which brought Kimi Raikkonen within range – the Ferrari driver soon made his way past. “I could have kept fifth place without that spin,” rued Perez after taking sixth ahead of his team mate.

Nico Hulkenberg was less fortunate with the VSC and lost time behind Felipe Massa’s Williams as a result. “I was stuck behind Felipe for so many laps, even though I was a lot quicker than him,” he said. “There was only a narrow dry line with a lot of standing water offline so it wasn’t easy to make a move.”

After catching a slide his father would have been proud of, Carlos Sainz Jnr took eighth. Daniil Kvyat made it two Toro Rossos in the points with tenth.

The pair were separated by Vettel, who copped a five-second penalty after accidentally forcing Massa wide as he passed the Williams. A second pit stop for Massa and two errors for Valtteri Bottas ensured Williams ended the day point-less.

Sauber worked hard overnight to give Marcus Ericsson a car to race after his crash but a power unit problem put him out early on. His team mate Felipe Nasr made up more places in the race than any other driver, and even took Bottas at one stage, yet still only finished 15th.

Hamilton closes the gap

After his fourth victory of the season Hamilton has moved within a point of his team mate (pending appeals) is poised to grab the lead as the season moves into its second half.

He knows the remainder of the season may not be straightforward and engine penalties are almost certain to come. But his crushing performance on home ground shows he has little reason to be concerned about the threat from Rosberg in a straight fight.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Hamilton rides wave of home support for fourth Silverstone win”

  1. Wonder where they are going to take the engine penalty and what position he can fight back to in that race.

    I’d take spa just for the dodgy 1st corner incident.

    1. Hamilton has still only used 3 Internal Combustion Engines, so he could just take a few 10 place penalties for those new parts that he has reached the limit on. Is it 10, or is it 5?
      I was wondering whether he could do what Jenson did in one race weekend last year, and elect to get 2 new PUs. I think the ridiculous penalties they had back then have now been abandoned.

      1. Really? I thought it was more then that.

      2. I was wondering the same thing. Just take three of everything, start from the back of the grid and be done with it.

      3. I think its 5 for each part of the engine. So 2 parts will give u a 10 place drop.

      4. Its 10 for each new power unit pack… He then gets one of each parts.

        10p penalty is not to bad, best would be somewhere where Nico is a lot faster, where he would be second at best… But not sure such a track exists.

        Silverstone today looked great for a massive engine penalty, but how could they have known?

        1. I am not sure that is correct with regards to a completely new PU. I thought the driver would have to start at the back.

        2. @jureo – re: “But not sure such a track exists” maybe Interlagos. Just in the wrong part of the calendar to be useful.

          1. @tribaltalker maybe penalties just hurt on all tracks… No good places, just some real terrible, Hungary is hard for overtaking,..

            Maybe Spa and Monza, if two new engines are needed.

            Mercedes should be amazing at Spa and with some DRS… Meep meep, + no chance of inter team crash.

      5. Here is a link to a list of what has been used by who up to Silverstone;
        http://www.pitpass.com/56633/British-GP-Power-Unit-elements

        1. Fudge Ahmed (@)
          11th July 2016, 11:07

          Singapore? If its anything like 2015 then Rosberg and Hamilton would be off the top spots anyway?

    2. I’d really not take Spa! starting 11th if he gets a pole is a disaster, specially with that first corner.

      I’d chose Sepang. He can get back to a good position there, and a fresh engine at such a hot place would be quite handy.

      I like the fact that we’re now entering an 11 races championship of it’s own. Time to reset and start again!

      1. With spa, I meant starting from the back.

    3. Either Spa or Monza would be my choice, and from these two I think Monza could be a better place as it primarily features straights, so on paper, it’s the best place for overtaking.

      1. Monza, suits Mercedes pu, plenty of overtaking opportunities, the perfect place for Hamilton’s aggression. Remember 2008 he started 17th finished 7th but had the predicted rain happened he’d have won the race, not Vettel. That race had to be one of the best exhibitions of overtaking in F1. Leaving to one side his quali balls up, that was the most exciting race I’ve seen Hamilton do.

    4. Spa is perfect if you get a front row start, so it’s better to take a penalty at Malaysia, Germany and or USA.

    5. It might be interesting to choose a track where he not only is guaranteed to get back up front but also one where a Mercedes win is possibly not guaranteed. Thinking about Singapore again. If Rosberg cannot win the race but finishes a sad fifth for example behind both Red Bulls and Ferrari cars he only gains 10 points if Hamilton fails to score point. That would be more interesting than finishing say fifth in Monza starting from the back where Rosberg wins the race.

  2. They have to sort this rainy start safety car mess out.

    Somewhere like monaco, I can understand….just

    But on a track like silverstone…there is no excuse….these are the brst drivers in the world. They have full wet tyres! They have the skill and ability to cope with the conditions.

    I do not see the argument for driving round at slow speeds until intermediates were required. At most, if you had to argue for a safety car start, it should be 1 lap….akin to a rolling start

    If anything, this approach was more dangerous as by the time the safety care came in, so many cars pitted that we could have had a nasty accident in the pit lane. There were some very close calls.

    This kind of neutered approach to racing is what turns a lot of people off F1.

    1. My opinion is that the fia can’t win in these circumstances. Today you have people coming down on them but if they have a accident then people will be saying why didn’t they delay it. In case like these fia probs think better to be safe then sorry.

      1. When do they ever use full wets then? Seems like there’s no point bringing them as race director only lets them race in intermediate conditions.

      2. Yep, as I’ve said before, this is the fallout from Jules Bianchi. Classic reflexive over-caution.

    2. Does anyone recall an actual full-wets, pouring rain standing start? I recall seeing some from Monaco on YouTube from back in the day, I.e., before there was a safety car, but I can’t remember one in recent years. I dont like the sc start, but I’m not sure that a standing start is a bona fide alternative nowadays.

      1. @dmw: That’s a good point (I think the classic wet race was the ’68 German GP). There have been several safety-car starts this century, but usually in conditions where it was pelting down and a normal start would have been insane. One exception is the 2012 Malaysian GP, where the rain had briefly halted for the start but the track was still wet. No safety car and almost everyone started on inters, but conditions got rapidly worse.

    3. Seems like VSC would work. I’m sure thru can’t or won’t for some reason.

    4. A start behind SC was fine, but it should not have taken them 5 laps to get the actual race started.

      1. @xtwl

        I would agree, but as I said, at most this should be a 1-2 lap rolling start or somthing akin to that. This will avoid first corner pile up’s and the rest is up to the skill of the driver.

  3. World sport is a joke right now. Everything is a fix. How can everyone celebrate this victory enthusiastically when f1 is slowly becoming less and less a sport and more of a show. Nothing you can throw at the race will hurt the big teams.

  4. Tyre saving ruined the race, when will they wake up.

    1. Who was saving tires at Silverstone?

      1. @trublu Everyone. It was obvious that everyone was planning to finish the race on the mediums right after pitting from the inters. Everyone who wasn’t going to do this was going to lose out therefore there was no other option.

        1. @xtwl, to me, it felt more like the tires were well capable of getting to the end without much tire saving. There were some good battles throughout the race. Apart from Hamilton, I don’t think many other drivers were pacing themselves and in his case it was for his engine.

  5. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    10th July 2016, 23:31

    I really dislike Hamilton and not particurlarly fond of Nico. That’s all I’ve got to add to this. Wish MErc would pick up 2 other drivers, it’s a guaranteed world championship for pretty much anyone.

    1. Just because you dislike drivers, doesn’t mean that they should be changed. I’m not a fan of Lewis or Nico but that’s not a good enough reason to warrant a driver change.

      1. Fan or no fan of Nico, you can’t disagree with the facts that before the Merc resurrection, the german was more or less 7th in the championship on a regular basis. But Merc were not a top team back then so they settled for that. Good enough. And then the new turbo era turned them unbeatable. And yet they stick with good enough Rosberg. The only reason he’s second, and he is second despite the fact he has a point lead, is because he has a good car. Everybody bashes Kimi for driving simply to gather points that fall off Seb’s platter (and rightfully so) but in my opinion Nico is way worse than Kimi because he’s vain and his arrogance hurts the team. I can’t stand Lewis, but to be fair, the man is playing in a totally different league than Rosberg.

  6. every race weekend we fans are arguing over the rule/ incident/ penalty
    not sure if it is fascinating or frustrating about F1 right now

    and many negative comments these days
    every other post is about one of the following
    the track is bad
    the race is bad
    the driver is bad
    the driving is bad
    the rule is bad
    the penalty is bad
    the F1 reputation is bad
    FIA is bad
    Pirelli is bad
    Bernie is bad
    DRS is bad
    i am not arguing these aren’t bad
    but…

    1. If I had to summarise this GP weekend on f1fanatic in one word, I’d choose ‘stupid’. I read a couple of threads about the major talking points and this word is used a lot. Stupid rules, stupid penalties, stupid decisions. And some of those rules only exist because people, who now call them stupid, asked for them.

      If I try to read between the lines, I think people want simple, one-dimensional rules and penalties, but fail to see that that’s an unrealistic expectation.

      For instance, there’s a very simple rule about minimum tyre pressures. The teams however build complicated devices to circumvent this rule. Teams build cars that only have to comply with the regulations at the time they’re measured/checked/scrutineered, not unlike a dieselgate-VW. Simple rules just can’t prevent this from happening.

      So the same discussions will pop-up over and over again, calling things stupid or bad. And then, when something is changed due to popular demand, we will call that stupid or bad.

      1. I agree with you Leo, a lot of fans complain that it was better and simpler back in the day, so Bernie is pulling strings to make F1 feel like it used to be.
        There was more overtake? DRS
        Fans did not hear radio communications? FOM censor them
        Drivers used to be alone behind the wheel? ban help from the pits (notice that help displayed on pit board is forbidden too, when it used to be allowed)

        And then they complain that F1 is over regulated…

  7. ‘Ricciardo looked potentially quicker’. No he didn’t. Stop making excuses for him.

    1. @hahostolze On lap six when he pitted, he was faster. Which is why it looked as if he was potentially quicker.

      The article is correct.

    2. Man you really have it out for Danny Ric.

      Look up the lap times, and then what potentially means.

  8. I switched it off when I saw it would be a safety car start. So lame.

    A race never gets going until a few minutes after 1:00 anyway. Why deprive us of the biggest spectacle of a Grand Prix weekend?

    Never thought I’d turn the British Grand Prix off but sadly I didn’t regret it. Ridiculous calendar as if all sport outside F1 doesn’t exist, too many meddling grid and time penalties, earlier and earlier first stops that break up the field so the strategic willy-waving can begin, and any “racing” you see you wonder if it’s being controlled by strategists hunched over laptops, not by the drivers.

  9. So that’s it, championship number 4 sealed for Lewis. As much I’d prefer it to go the other way.. I think it’s pretty much done. Lewis is back on top forn, and Nico knows it. All things being equal, Nico has probably peaked, after this he just has to keep picking up the points and hope Lewis has a few off days.

    Also, hats off to Joos Verstappen for breeding what appears to be the perfect modern day F1 Driver. Danny Ric..sorry mate.. Look for another team.

    1. crazy that ricciardo has beaten vettel and verstappen wipes the floor with him, also a huge amount of mistakes from vettel this season. being a vettel fan is becoming harder day by day.

      1. I don’t think Vettel has made many mistakes (alshough he was messy at Silverstone), sadly the car is less reliable than last year and on the occasions where Seb was in a position to challenge for the win Ferrari have stumbled on strategy.

        1. australia last lap, break errors canada, hitting kimi in china

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