A truly memorable British Grand Prix weekend came to an end today at Silverstone circuit. It actually got underway as far back as Wednesday, with the announcement that an agreement had been reached with the British Racing Drivers’ Club and Silverstone Circuit to continue hosting this event for the next five years. It ended with a fantastic race, which was won by Lewis Hamilton, who had been the outright favourite going into the event. But the Englishman had to dig deep to get the better of his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate and worthy opponent Valtteri Bottas. Naturally, the win was hugely popular with the massive crowd, a record 141,000 today, 351,000 over the weekend from Thursday onwards.
The Mercedes duo were not alone in putting on a show, with so many key moments of today’s race it was hard to choose the best: the duel between Hamilton and Bottas right from the start, or between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, or the fight between the young Ferrari driver and Pierre Gasly? Or what about the robust passing move that Verstappen used to get ahead of Sebastian Vettel and then the mistake from the German? Or maybe it was Hamilton’s final lap, when he just beat his team-team to set the race fastest lap, even though he was running Hard tyres that had already covered 32 laps? Whichever moment impressed most, whether seen at the track or on a screen, this tenth round of the 2019 season will be remembered as a classic.
Lewis Hamilton Wins Record 6th British Grand Prix
This was Hamilton’s seventh win of the season, the 80th of his career and, most importantly the sixth in this race, which makes him the outright record holder for British Grand Prix wins. This was win number 96 for Mercedes and the seventh one-two of the season, their 51st in total.
The duel between poleman Bottas and Hamilton had the crowd on its feet in the early stages, but in the end, the decision went down to a bit of luck. The Finn had fought off the advances of the championship leader and then pitted before him, opting for a new set of Medium tyres, aiming for a two-stop strategy. Hamilton, however, decided to go for a long first stint and when the Safety Car was called after Antonio Giovinazzi went off the track, he pitted immediately for a set of Hards, which meant he could go all the way to the chequered flag. Coming out of pit lane, Hamilton just had to control the race from then on, which he did with his usual style.
“I remember my first win here in 2008 and the feeling that I had coming out of Brooklands and going down the straight and seeing the crowd, it felt so reminiscent of that today – the excitement and happiness and joy that I felt were exactly the same as back then. I’ve done so many races now, and you would think that after so many races you’d get used to it and the feeling would numb down, but it felt like it was the first win I ever had. Valtteri drove a very strong race and we had a really good fight in the beginning; I nearly got him going into Turn 7, but he was next to me and I couldn’t really close the door. After that I backed off a little and waited for the pit stops, hoping that I could maybe overtake him in the pits. I extended my first stint for a few more laps, then the Safety Car came out and that was perfect timing for me as I came back out in front of Valtteri. I’m really grateful to all of those people that have helped me achieve this today; I have this incredible team behind me and it’s really amazing to be a part of it, to be breaking down walls and records and pushing the limits and boundaries every weekend,” said the race winner.
After taking the chequered flag, waved by the musician Stormzy, one of many celebrities present today at Silverstone – others included the current James Bond actor, Daniel Craig and Millie Bobby Brown, Mel B and basketball player Chris Bosh – Lewis calmly savoured the taste of victory, with a gentle slowing down lap, as he buzzed the grandstands to pay tribute to the home crowd. It was a truly special win for the five times world champion.
Unlucky Bottas Finishes Second
Bottas was always a safe distance behind, never more than 3.1s, up to lap 45, when the Finn had to pit again to comply with the rule of fitting at least two tyre compounds. On used Softs, Bottas tried to at least bring home the point for fastest race lap, but even this was denied him by Hamilton, with a mind-blowing final lap, setting a new track record in 1.27.369.
“I had a good start of the line and then a good fight with Lewis in the first few laps, which was really enjoyable. After my pit stop, I was controlling the gap to Lewis, but then the Safety Car came out and he effectively got a free stop and came out ahead of me. I was hoping that there might be another opportunity in the race, but I knew the chances were slim because I had to do another stop to change to a different compound anyways. The tyre life was ultimately much better than we had thought, so a one-stop would have been possible, but our simulations before the race had predicted a two-stop to be the fastest option. I’m disappointed because the win was definitely possible for me today, but I can definitely take positives from this weekend – I had a strong Qualifying and my race pace also looked very good. It was also another strong weekend from the team, to take a 1-2 after a difficult race in Austria is a great result. Congratulations to Lewis for the win, he drove well and had massive support from the local fans. I’m looking forward to the next race in Hockenheim and will give it everything to fight back,” said Bottas.
Leclerc Third Despite Botched Pit Strategy
Charles Leclerc finished where he started, but his route to the third step of the podium was far from easy. He did a great job of fending off a hard-charging Verstappen, but then the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing man overtook the Scuderia Ferrari driver in the pit lane when they both made a tyre stop on lap 13. But Leclerc did not take long to re-pass the Dutchman. When the Safety Car came out, Verstappen was immediately called in for a second stop to fit Hard tyres and therefore run to the end, while Ferrari first called in Vettel on lap 20 and only brought his team-mate in next time around. It meant Vettel kept his third place but Leclerc found himself behind both Red Bulls, as Gasly had pitted on lap 10 to fit Hards.
On lap 36, the Ferrari man managed to pass Gasly with a lovely move and then made the most of the heavy collision when Vettel ran into the back of Verstappen just after he had been overtaken by him, on the following lap, to go back up to third.
“It was a good day for me. This was by far the most fun race of my Formula 1 career to date. From inside the cockpit, the duel with Max was really enjoyable and I reckon those watching it at home or at the track also thought it was a good show. In a way, I have to say that what happened in Austria allowed me to understand how aggressive I can be in the race and I didn’t hold back. It was also a good fight with Pierre: to overtake him I had to be daring because he was very quick down the straights. From a technical point of view, I think we need to further improve our race pace and how we manage the tyres, because today we struggled a bit,” said Leclerc.
Mixed Fortunes For Red Bull Racing
Pierre Gasly finished ahead of his teammate for the first time this season, however, the winner of the Austrian Grand Prix did still manage to finish the race with a damaged car and in a far from happy mood, although Vettel did the decent thing and immediately apologised once the cars reached parc ferme. It was a really disappointing afternoon for the man who had won this race last year and it is also the first time this season he has finished outside the points.
“It was a really exciting first part of the race, with Max going wheel to wheel with Leclerc resulting in some great racing between the two of them. An early pit stop put Max just ahead but unfortunately he couldn’t hold on to that position on the out lap. They were then fighting for the rest of the stint before the Safety Car was deployed. We took the opportunity to pit Max again so he could go to the end of the race and it then became a straight fight between Max and Sebastian, knowing he was within a pit stop of Bottas. Max managed to make a pass on the outside at Stowe but Seb misjudged his breaking and took Max’s car out from behind. Despite the enormous hit, Max was able to get going again from the gravel to bring the car home. It was a frustrating race for him as there was potential for a podium today. Pierre’s race was the continuation of a very strong weekend, running hard with the Ferraris and doing a very long stint on the hard tyre to get to the end of the race to achieve his best finish of the year. This has been a great confidence builder for him and hopefully he can use this to get some momentum going for his next race,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.
McLaren And Renault Continue Midfield Battle
A strong performance from Carlos Sainz in this exciting Grand Prix saw him finish sixth. Disappointed in yesterday’s qualifying, as he failed to get into Q3, the Spaniard made the most of the Safety Car appearance to close on the drivers from the top three teams, then defending his position tooth and nail from the advances of Daniel Ricciardo. Renault also got Nico Hulkenberg home in the points in 10th place, while between them, Kimi Raikkonen was eighth while Daniil Kvyat did a great job to move up from 17th to ninth at the flag.
“A good Sunday! After a tough Saturday the plan was always to recover with a solid start, tyre management and a good strategy. Again, we operated it perfectly. I overtook both Alfa Romeos off the line to be the first of the Medium midfield runners. The pace was good and we took advantage of the Safety Car to do the only pit-stop I was meant to do today. After the stop I could set a really good pace when it mattered and the battle with Ricciardo for P6 was tense but fun. Good racing. I managed to stay ahead and score some good points for the team. We’ll analyse the whole weekend now and start thinking about Germany. Let’s keep pushing,” said Sainz.
Hamilton And Mercedes Extend Championship Leads
After the tenth round of the season, Lewis Hamilton is now running away in the lead of the Drivers’ classification, 39 points ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas (223 to 184) and Maxi Verstappen in third has extended his lead over Vettel by 13 points. In the Constructors’ table, Mercedes has already gone over the 400 point mark, with 407 to be precise, a huge lead over Ferrari in second on 243 points. Red Bull is third on 191. The next round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the 2019 German Grand Prix, takes place at the Hockenheim circuit on 28 July.