The Formula 1 2019 British Grand Prix was exciting from lights to flag, with a tight battle between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton being settled by a fortuitous safety car period that saw the British driver take the lead, and with it, his sixth win at this event.
Further back the Red Bulls and Ferraris had a titanic tussle, punctuated by Vettel driving into the back of Verstappen, costing the Dutch young gun a podium finish.
In the battle to be the best of the rest, Carlos Sainz managed to hold off a fast-charging Daniel Ricciardo to finish sixth, while at the rear, it was a day to forget for Haas who had both cars retire from the race.
Lewis Hamilton: British Grand Prix Record Holder
It’s hard to come up with new ways to describe the superlative nature of Lewis Hamilton’s season. At Silverstone, the five-time world champion added another record to his collection by taking a sixth home Grand Prix victory.
You could see from Lewis’ celebrations just how much the win meant to him and his slow-down lap was a marvellous tribute to the tens of thousands in the grandstands cheering him on.
The manner in which he attacked Bottas in the early laps was a clear indication that, after being edged out of pole position on Saturday, he was determined to stamp his authority on the race as quickly as possible. But he is now mature enough to know how to manage a race such as this and when it became clear Bottas had opted for a two-stop strategy, the race was clearly in his hands.
The Safety Car made life easier, but the pace he ran on the hard tyre for 32 laps was truly incredible, as was the performance of his car. On average, in recent races, including Silverstone, the advantage of the Mercedes in qualifying seems to have been reduced, but in the race, the reigning champion’s superiority was overwhelming. Austria was a blip, and now it’s up to Red Bull and Ferrari to react if they want to fight for the win again.
Ferrari Woes Continue
We saw two sides to Ferrari this weekend, in terms of drivers and on the technical front.
When it comes to performance on a flying lap in qualifying, Leclerc was amazing, given that he only lost out on pole in the final sector of a track that didn’t suit the characteristics of the SF90, especially in the cold conditions. However, in the race, Ferrari was third best, a long way off Mercedes and behind the Red Bulls.
Tyre wear especially seems to be the team’s Achilles Heel. That could be seen on Friday and although the team managed to partially fix it over the weekend, it was not enough to put them in the fight for the win. Back in Maranello, they need to understand why this is, and they must react quickly if they want to keep alive their hopes of fighting for the championship.
The two drivers also had very different Sunday afternoons. Leclerc scored his fifth podium finish of the season, his fourth in a row. He was obviously delighted after a race that highlighted not only his talent and clean driving style, but also his bravery in those thrilling duels, both in defence and on the attack.
Charles’ comments in the post-race interviews revealed that he happier to have come out on top in his duels with Verstappen and Gasly than with the final result, showing that these are the things that make Formula 1 what it is.
Vettel, on other hand, could not muster a smile. Since Canada, Sebastian seems to have been struggling more and more, and in Silverstone those woes deepened further.
Unlike Leclerc, he never felt comfortable in the car, as can be seen from the gaps in qualifying and then, in the race, he didn’t make the most of the Safety Car opportunity, after it had seen him move up to third.
Then came the mistake when he slammed into the back of Verstappen’s car. He realised immediately that he’d erred and after the race quickly sought Max out to apologise. It’s a difficult moment for Sebastian, as he probably feels under a different kind of pressure than he’s used to, and he must be asking himself what direction he should now go in, given that again this year, his chance of putting Ferrari back on top is slipping away.
Red Bull Racing On The Rise
Although neither of its drivers made it to the podium, Red Bull emerged as the second power at the end of the Silverstone weekend. Ever closer to Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying, in the race the Milton Keynes squad was a cut above the Italian team in terms of performance. And in the end it was only the collision between Verstappen and Vettel that put an end to the Dutchman’s chances of finishing on the podium.
Credit for the team’s improvement should be divided equally between Red Bull, who on the chassis and aero front are once again proving to be very strong with their development, and Honda, who are undoubtedly surprising a few people with the pace at which it is progressing in performance from its power unit.
It’s important for Formula 1 that the Japanese company should get back on top because it makes for better competition. Two years ago, there was a real risk that Honda would pull the plug on its involvement in the hybrid era and I think it’s commendable that they found a way to move forward without much pressure, thanks to last season with Toro Rosso, before joining forces with a top team in the shape of Red Bull.
Formula 1 want all four engine manufacturers to be tied to a genuinely competitive team and that has now come about, because let’s not forget that Renault, which won 12 races in 2014 with Red Bull, is making good progress with its works team and as a supplier to a hugely improved McLaren.
Finally, it was also a good weekend for Pierre Gasly. After a difficult start to the season he finally finished a race ahead of his team-mate, always a first goal for any racing driver.
The young Frenchman has struggled in all nine races leading up to Silverstone, but this weekend it was a different story. It was clear from Friday morning, when he was quickest in FP1, and again in qualifying, when he out-paced four-time world champion Vettel that Pierre had found a comfort zone with the RB15.
Then, in the race, Pierre was on the case, making the most of the opportunities that came his way to finish fourth. It should give his season a boost, along with the clear progress the team has made with car performance. Red Bull is a tough school for youngsters and only those with the right stuff move forward. Pierre is well aware of that and now he’s got his claws out.
Here we re-live the drama with some of the best 2019 British Grand Prix photos.