Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2018

Vettel denies Hamilton at home as Ferrari and Mercedes clash again

2018 British Grand Prix review

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Sebastian Vettel credited his fourth victory of 2018 to the improvements Ferrari had made at Silverstone, a track where they hadn’t won for seven years.

“It’s been a difficult track for us,” he said. “This year I think we were a match.”

That certainly appeared to be the case in qualifying where it took an inspired, last-gasp effort from Lewis Hamilton to put his Mercedes in front of the two Ferraris by less than a tenth of a second. But the race would have been a much tougher affair had it not gone disastrously wrong for Hamilton at turn one.

Poor getaway costs Hamilton

Silverstone was unnaturally hot all weekend. The grass fried in the 30C-plus heat, and every time someone put a wheel wide they kicked up a vast cloud of dust.

The track’s new surface was grippy like the Circuit de Catalunya and Paul Ricard, but bumpy like the Nordschleife, at least according to Hamilton. It was also scorching – well over 50C.

But when the time came for Hamilton to communicate his Mercedes’ near-1,000bhp of grunt to the surface, he asked too much, and his rear wheels spun as the Ferraris pounced.

Start, Silverstone, 2018
Raikkonen ruined Hamilton’s race
“I just had a poor getaway,” he said afterwards. “Too aggressive. Just got wheelspin and lost ground to the others.”

From second on the grid, Vettel was immediately by. Valtteri Bottas got away better from fourth than he had from pole in Austria last week, and passed his team mate for second as they rounded Abbey.

As they hammered into the first braking zone at Village, Kimi Raikkonen had a run on the inside of Hamilton. The Mercedes driver left the inside line free but Raikkonen snatched a brake and thumped the Mercedes into a spin.

The predictable claims Raikkonen’s innocent if clumsy misjudgement was in fact a nefarious act of sabotage grew louder after the race when Hamilton made insinuations about Ferrari’s “interesting tactics”. The stewards came down on his favour and gave Raikkonen a stiffer, 10-second penalty than the five seconds Vettel had been penalised at Paul Ricard.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting – who is not part of the stewards’ deliberations on incidents – offered his view on the decision afterwards.

“I can only think that they felt it was a little more serious than what Sebastian did in France,” he said. “I don’t know the thought process that they’ve done there. But I do know there was widespread criticism of the lenience of the penalty given in France so maybe that affected it.

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Vettel pulls clear

To begin with Vettel scorched off into the lead, pulling six seconds clear of Bottas in 10 laps. But in the second half of the stint the Ferrari was plainly starting to struggle with its tyres, as Mercedes predicted it would.

By lap 20 Bottas was 4.4 seconds behind. Ferrari, possibly still scarred by their experience in China, summoned Vettel in for fresh rubber. Bottas followed on the next lap.

Meanwhile Hamilton had cut a swath through the midfield with ridiculous ease. He passed more than one car per lap on average until, by lap 10, he was back in the top six. It had cost him time, however: having been 13.7s behind Vettel at the end of lap one the gap had doubled.

But from that point, once Vettel and Hamilton were running in clear air, the Mercedes driver took five seconds out of the Ferrari over 21 laps. Later in the race, after Vettel’s second pit stop when he was running on tyres that were both softer and fresher than Hamilton’s, he was hardly able to pull away.

Ferrari may have raised their game at Silverstone, but even in the heat the Mercedes was the quicker car. Nonetheless Hamilton didn’t seem to have the kind of performance advantage to suggest he could have won without ease had Raikkonen not rammed him out of third place. It was his poor start that ruined his day.

Mercedes’ Safety Car gamble

The Safety Car gave Mercedes an opportunity
Vettel admitted Ferrari had “probably still some weaknesses in the race at different phases.” In particular, “At the end of the first stint, I think Valtteri was a bit faster,” he added.

Had the Safety Car not appeared, Vettel might have had a tough end to the race on fading tyres with Bottas looming in his mirrors. But when Marcus Ericsson failed to active his DRS at Abbey while chasing Sergio Perez, his car snapped into a violent spin and crashed nose-first into a barrier.

This gave Vettel the chance to pit for fresher rubber, which in turn gave Mercedes the chance to stay out and gain track position. Both seized the opportunities.

For Bottas, this meant a long, 31-lap stint on medium tyres. His cause was aided when the first Safety Car period was followed immediately by a second: Romain Grosjean twitched into Carlos Sainz Jnr as the pair went side-by-side, triggering another huge, high-speed crash.

In total around 10 laps of green flag running were lost. When the race finally got going again Bottas had to fend off Vettel, Hamilton was now up to third and Raikkonen behind him was scrapping furiously with Max Verstappen.

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Vettel reclaims the lead

Bottas executed a pair of flawless restarts to keep Vettel at arm’s length. But the Ferrari came back at him and, as Bottas’s tyres faded, Vettel grew ever more threatening. For lap after lap Bottas positioned his car carefully, defying Vettel’s attempts to wrest the lead.

“It was quite intense,” said Vettel. “Obviously I had the advantage on the tyres but he had the clean air. In the high speed stuff I was able to follow, but it was difficult the closer I got.”

Vettel bided his time. On lap 46 he tucked in behind Bottas as they approached Brooklands, the left-handed which offers one of the best opportunities for overtaking. The next time around Bottas got a slightly poorer run onto the straight. Again Vettel tucked in behind him and then, at the last possible moment, jinked to the inside. Bottas had no answer – Vettel stole the inside line and seized his chance for victory.

“I was able to surprise him so I think he thought that I won’t dare [go to] the inside,” said Vettel. “The braking zone was coming quite fast but I thought OK, I have to go for it because I was obviously also struggling – the longer I spent behind him, struggling with my tyres as they got hotter, and losing that advantage that I had a little bit.

“I felt great when I was side by side and wasn’t sure if I would make the corner but I did.”

Over the final laps Bottas’s worn tyres left him unable to keep Hamilton and Raikkonen behind. Staying out on worn tyres had been a gamble worth taking, he said afterwards, but in retrospect it was clearly the wrong decision.

Red Bull out of the running

Brake trouble thwarted Verstappen
Red Bull never figured in the fight for the lead, their down-on-power engines seeing to that at a track where more and more corners are now taken flat-out. A brake-by-wire problem scuppered Verstappen’s run to fifth which was instead taken by Daniel Ricciardo, who made a second pit stop before the Safety Car came out.

Haas squandered their best-of-the-rest starting positions when Grosjean blundered into Kevin Magnussen. The former then crashed out, while Magnussen recovered to a handy ninth.

Instead Nico Hulkenberg took an excellent sixth. He came under pressure from Charles Leclerc early in the race but the Sauber driver retired with a loose wheel following an early pit stop in an attempt to get ahead of the Renault.

“When you are pushing everything to the limit sometimes it happens, you do mistakes,” said Leclerc. “It’s a shame because we were fighting for P6 because at the end Nico finished P6 and I think the undercut was working very well but it happens and we’ll come back stronger.”

Esteban Ocon took seventh for Force India and team mate Sergio Perez was promoted to the final points place after Pierre Gasly was penalised for barging into him late in the race. Perez was especially lucky to come away with a point having almost been collected by the Williams pair when he spun into the pit lane exit at the start.

Fernando Alonso took eight for McLaren, three places ahead of team mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who was unhappy with his car all weekend.

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Vettel takes the trophy

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2018
Vettel took his second Silverstone win
Saturday had been an uncomfortable day for Vettel who had to rest his head in the car to ease the strain on his neck. Sunday more than made up for it, however.

His victory may have been inadvertently aided by his team mate, but it was a hard-fought win, one which increases his championship lead to eight points.

Following the race he spent a while checking out his prize, the classic BRDC trophy, which his name will be added to for the second time. “The trophy obviously carries over names of previous winners but it stopped in 2005 so I was wondering where the last 13 years have been,” he said.

“And then when I came back to the podium room, they showed me that there’s another bit that they forgot to put on. But for sure it’s a very prestigious trophy with a lot of names.”

Before this weekend the four most recent names on the trophy were all Hamilton’s. Missing out on a home victory he was clearly quick enough to take will undoubtedly have rankled with Hamilton. But he will have the chance to return the favour: Vettel’s home race is next.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

Author information

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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39 comments on “Vettel denies Hamilton at home as Ferrari and Mercedes clash again”

  1. Love the last para.

    1. Which is funny because Vettel kind of sucks in his home GPs :P

      1. Vettel will not disappoint you.
        You will be surprised how many wins will Vettel have in his life.
        Many more countries will become Ferrari home races, appart from Vettel’s latest and new home Silverstone…
        But ask him which home is his favourite home race??

        1. @Bebana

          You don’t seem to understand what a home race is.

          Ferrari’s home race is Monza. Because it’s in Italy, where Ferrari is based.
          Vettel’s home race is Germany -though wasn’t he Austrian born? So shouldn’t Austria be his home race?
          Mercedes Home race is Germany. (Though the team itself and main facilities are in the UK)
          Hamilton’s is Silverstone.
          Ricciardo’s is Austrailia.

          1. @Bebana
            Forgot to add, winning a race doesn’t make it a driver’s ‘Home Race’

            To be honest, I read your comments, and I wonder if you’ve ever watched an F1 race in your entire life. I suspect you still haven’t and you’re just here posting for other reasons.

          2. @nikkit No, Vettel indeed is German-born, not Austrian-born. BTW, besides: The Monaco GP is also kind of a ‘home race’ for Hamilton and Ricciardo. An ‘adopted’ home race so to speak.

          3. You have to send comments only if your statements are 100% expressing the truth…

        2. Champagne Papi
          10th July 2018, 10:42

          Bebana, are you an actual infant?

          1. Yes Papu, I am,
            That is why I am looking and listening Lewis baby crying again.

  2. Like a true British journalist you keep feeding the fantasy that Mercedes could have won the race and add then the myth about hamilton being faster….of course he is faster when he is playing catchup and vettel is cruising… of course bottas catches up when vettel is smart enough to control his pace to stop his front left from blistering.
    The faster car won this weekend in silverstone and it becomes nauseating reading the British press’s excuses for Mercedes.
    take your *ss whipping like a man and move on and quit making excuses is my take on this nonsense.

    1. Right. Vettel himself admitted he was controlling the gap on Bottas on white tyres, trying not to stress them too much. It makes no sense to say “Hamilton was much faster than the others, he could have won the race”. Hamilton was doing a different race from Vettel.
      Races are this way: when all the things gets into the right way, you win, otherwise you lose. But when you lose, you just have to admit it and congratulate with the winner. Running away crying “it’s Kimi’s fault, mum, he hit me because Ferrari told him to crash me away” is not acceptable from a four times world champion.

      1. 4 time wdc, but also a well known cry baby.

        Both our WDCs tend to be cry babies, lets be honest here. Maybe crying on the radio, all that emotion, rage, fury is making them faster than their calmer teammates. Who knows.

        1. One of them tend to cry outside the car.. throw his him under the bus Everytime he can.. almost like he learned from alonso

    2. You are entitled your opinion. In the end we’ll never know what would have happened had Lewis stayed in the leading pack even after the bad gateway he got. But Mercedes have reasons to believe that they could’ve won this race, for sure. Specially considering the tyre life, Ferrari was not able to run longer than them.

    3. HAM needs to man up and stop acting like a child but I think it’s possible he could’ve won. He absolutely dominates that track and was certainly on form to do it again through quali

    4. Wow if you are this emotional when Vettel wins I can imagine when he loses. There’s no fantasy here, Hamilton probably had the performance, hard to say with his mistakes and the RAI incident. Only makes the Ferrari win much more valuable imho.

  3. It was all due to the messy start Lewis made, had he started cleanly he would have won the race, RAI played a huge role in this, amateur mistake from a veteran driver.

  4. Vettel didn’t need Raikkonen’s misjudjement to win. He sealed the deal with his start. Hamilton didn’t have a substantial car advantage and with a mirroring strategy wouldn’t have the tyre advantage to overtake. Also lets not forget he would need to deal with Bottas first. Team orders would be a disaster especially after Ferrari opted against it at Austria. Last year at this point Mercedes had 7 wins now has 3. The battle is on for real this time.

    1. Hamilton would have won if he retained the lead on lap 1. Only dirty air and marvelous driving ability would have keept him ahead.

      And even then 3 DRS zones, multiple Seb Vettel undercuts, safety cars.. But still Lewis would probably provide us some entertainment.

      In all other scenarios he finishes second, his fate was sealed with initial tyre slip.

      1. “marvelous driving ability”

  5. It’s funny Ham complaining about the incident in France, it only benefited himself, he sure wouldn’t mind Vet ramming Bot many more times this year and getting front wing changes, penalty’s…

    I’m sure Vet wouldn’t mind Ham taking out Rai and get penalized with that, would he?

    1. Exactly.

  6. It’s funny Ham complaining about the incident in France, it only benefited himself, he sure wouldn’t mind Vet ramming Bot many more times this year and getting front wing changes, penalty’s…

    I’m sure Vet wouldn’t mind Ham taking out Rai and get penalized with that, would he?

  7. A question I haven’t seen here is this: why did we get a safety car twice where a VSC would have been just as safe. The crashed cars where not on the track, there was no debris on track. Normally a VSC would be the right choice in that situation. But they decided to call in the Safety car.

    Hamilton dare to suggest that Raikkonen hit him on purpose after the start (where Hamilton was mainly to blame himself for that lousy start). I would say that there is more of a coincidence that these Safety Car periods mainly benefited one driver, that same home boy Hamilton.

    1. @dutch-1 There’s a simple “rule of thumb” here; Marshals manually removing car(s) = VSC, Tractors removing car(s) = SC. Lessons learned from the death of Jules Bianchi. In both instances, Tractors were used to remove the cars.

      1. Ahh, always wondered that!

      2. I was wondering same. Thanks @ijw1

      3. @ijw1 That’s true, but then again there were no VSC back then, only double yellows. The tractors were far away from the track so the incidents seemed like perfect VSC candidates to me. In any case we got a great finish because of it.

      4. Merzedes drivers did not deserve to be 5th or 6th.
        Britain and FIA again helped both of them. It is awfull to watch.
        I wonder how Lewis did not accuse Kimi for poor start?
        And Kimi cannot vanish from the pace when Lewis was lost like a rock. How avoid this miracle of the man?
        Of course that at least 10 sec penalty was supposed to given to him because he is disturbing other competitors, other drivers. Nobody thinks of them.
        He is accusing everybody for his failures.

    2. Safety car on clean road? Why?
      Hamiltin is crying for the information. Whete is Vettel? Whete is Vettel. Hallo Lewis. Yes, it is Great Britain and FIA is doing everything to help you.
      Safety car is because of you Lewis.
      But, do not as where is Seb.
      Sebastian is happily married father of two kids…where are you?

      1. Champagne Papi
        10th July 2018, 10:45

        Your weird haiku’s make me uneasy.

  8. Mercedes sees the handwriting on the wall – there is a much smaller margin for error now and they aren’t used to adversity.
    Last week HAM belittled one of his team members for bad strategy as he has done in the past. This should be done behind closed doors, not for the world to hear.
    Yesterday he, Wolff and Lauda stooped even lower – accusing RAI of purposely crashing into 44. HAM’s poor start was the culprit, not RAI. Shame on all of them for trying to taint a great drive/victory by VET – the definition of poor sportsmanship.
    The bottom line is Merc are rattled because they perceive Ferrari has their number whether it is true or not.
    Both HAM and VET are emotionally fragile at times so it will be interesting to see who can handle the pressure best.

    1. No, no brother!
      Do not involve Vettel Sebastian in such a story.
      He is not emotionally fragile but emotionally strong and becoming stronger every day.
      Indeed, as I told you earlier. Sebastian is a family man.
      Not celebrity party man….

  9. Bronze arrrows
    9th July 2018, 23:34

    Where is Mercedes apology? While we’re at it… c4 should Sack the conspiracy theorists wife(obvious reasons) and david coulthard for his links money wise to RBR. Impartial.

    1. Considering the production company is owned by Coulthard, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Plus, they have no requirement to be impartial – they can be as biased as they like, they’re just broadcasters, not the FIA.

  10. Brigitta Gyimesi
    10th July 2018, 0:05

    Mercedes’s one-stopper was a dead strategy option from the get-go, there’s no way they would have gone until the end at a competitive pace: the SC helped them eke out more from the tyres than they could have done at race pace, still Bottas’s tyres gave up and I doubt Hamilton had more than 2-3 laps in them at the end and would surely have hit the cliff without the SC.
    We can come up with defences but the fact is Mercedes once again miscalculated their tactics. It seems to me they are still living under the illusion that they can outbalance their tyre disadvantage with superior engine power. Notwithstanding their flattering public comments about the competitiveness of their rivals and how they don’t take anything for granted, well, easier said than done.

  11. Once again the spoiled brat Ham cries foul. For him to imply that Kimi purposely hit him is so pathetic and sad. Looking at the replay over and over in slo-mo there really should not have been any penalty for KR. He held his line and locked up to try and avoid Ham, but because Ham was so sluggish at his start and into the corner it was just about impossible for KR to avoid, short of a dead stop! The race being in England, home to a few teams including Merc, it isn’t surprising to see a penalty thrown out there. If there would not have been any Safety cars, most likely, neither Merc would have finished in the top five. Once again we see the lack of “parity” in F1. There are three teams, (Merc, Ferrari, RB), and the rest. It glaringly shows in all areas of concern; points, titles, wins, etc… The system really needs fixing because they are losing attendance both at the track and TV, except for those few tracks where fans have nothing else to look forward to! Put Ham or Vettel in a car other than the top three and they will not be winning any races, the as what is happening to Alonso. Those titles they have come about more by the car than their driver no skills.

    1. I saw the Hamilton/Raikkonen incident slightly differently. Kimi was slightly ahead approaching the breaking zone, and he applied the brakes first. Hamilton taking the longer outside line braked maybe 10m after Kimi, and then started his turn in for the corner. Kimi was still under breaking when Lewis’ car starts to ‘close’ the corner on him, and therefore Kimi applied more braking pressure causing him to lock the fronts slightly. That front lock-up on Kimi’s car caused him to under steer slightly – and it was ultimately that under steer was why Kimi hit Hamilton.

      Watching the GP live, I thought the incident would be put down to just a ‘Racing Incident’ with no penalties. In my opinion, contributing factors to the stewards penalising Kimi were Martin Brundle’s comments on Sky TV and Lewis saying that he had lots of damage from the incident. Now having the benefit of watching lots of replays, I think the stewards were correct in their penalty. I think that equally the stewards could have a made a call of ‘Racing Incident, No further action required’ just as easily.

  12. Had the Safety Car not appeared, Vettel might have had a tough end to the race on fading tyres with Bottas looming in his mirrors.

    This is possible, certainly, but I don’t think likely. Vettel would have largely been in clear air, so his tyres would have suffered due to age/laps but Bottas’ tyres would have been only a lap fresher and would have spent many laps in dirty air. Bottas’ tyres were off by the end of race anyway, so I don’t think it would have been that tight had neither pitted.

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