Hamilton wins a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as Vettel crashes out

Lewis Hamilton scored an important victory in a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out at the start.

Hamilton took the chequered flag 4.5 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Valtteri Bottas completing the podium.

Hamilton extended his championship lead to 28 points over Vettel, with Bottas 23 points further back in third.

Rain was falling ahead of the start, with the top six drivers – Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas – starting on the intermediates while others, including Nico Hulkenberg and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne opted for the full wets.

Kimi Raikkonen made a strong getaway from fourth to go three abreast with pole sitter Vettel and Verstappen on the approach to Turn 1.

Vettel moved across to cover the inside line, squeezing Verstappen who then made contact with Raikkonen, spearing The Iceman across the track into Vettel.

Raikkonen’s out of control car then collected Verstappen and Alonso at Turn 1, putting Raikkonen and Verstappen out of the race immediately.

Vettel continued in the lead with his damaged car, but then lost control out of Turn 3 and after he’d hit the barriers hard, his Ferrari team instructed him to retire.

Alonso managed to continue but his McLaren team lost telemetry and though it came back, it ultimately called him in to retire as well.

Hamilton inherited the lead, but the race was neutralised when the safety car was sent out so the debris could be cleared.

At the restart, Hamilton bolted away at the front, pulling out a lead of 3.5 seconds over Ricciardo after just one lap with Hulkenberg running third.

The rain stopped on lap six with conditions rapidly favouring those running intermediates.

The safety car was called out again when Daniil Kvyat crashed after locking up at the end of the back straight and understeering into the wall.

Several drivers, including Ricciardo, took the opportunity to pit for fresh intermediates but Mercedes kept Hamilton and Bottas out.

By the time the safety car came back in at the end of lap 14, everyone was on intermediates apart from Felipe Massa and Pascal Wehrlein.

As the track began to dry, Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to switch to slicks, taking the ultra-softs, while Massa followed suit.

It quickly became clear that was the tyre to be on, sparking a flurry of pitstops, with Ricciardo pitting on lap 29 in a bid to undercut Hamilton.

Mercedes responded the next lap and Hamilton rejoined in the lead.

He set about pulling away from the Red Bull, building an 18.7 seconds lead over Ricciardo before the safety car came out for third time when Marcus Ericsson crashed on the Anderson Bridge.

Several drivers pitted for fresh tyres, including Hulkenberg who also needed an air line plugged into his car which delayed the stop and dropped him from fourth to tenth  before he retired in the closing stages.

Hamilton pulled clear at the restart with the Mercedes driver quickly building a lead of four seconds.

Mercedes told him to hold that gap to keep the field compressed and avoid giving anyone else a free stop but after a discussion, it told Hamilton he could dictate the pace and ultimately secure his seventh win of the season.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished a career-best fourth for Toro Rosso, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, with Jolyon Palmer scoring his first points of the season in sixth.

Stoffel Vandoorne was seventh with Lance Stroll eighth as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

The race became time-limited due to the safety car interruptions meaning only 58 of the 61 laps could be completed within the two-hour limit.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in winning. This was an important result for the championship. As for Ferrari, this self-destruction was unacceptable but that’s racing. Hopefully the Scuderia can fight back, for the sake of the championship.

Singapore Grand Prix race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    58    2h03m23.543s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    58    4.507s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    58    8.800s
4    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    58    22.822s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    58    25.359s
6    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    58    27.259s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    58    30.388s
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    58    41.696s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    58    43.282s
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    58    44.795s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    58    46.536s
12    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    56    2 Laps
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    50    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    48    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    35    Spun off
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    10    Spun off
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    8    Collision
–    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    263
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    212
4    Daniel Ricciardo    162
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    68
8    Esteban Ocon    56
9    Carlos Sainz    48
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    28
13    Romain Grosjean    26
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Jolyon Palmer    8
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    7
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    4
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    475
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    230
4    Force India-Mercedes    124
5    Williams-Mercedes    59
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    52
7    Renault    42
8    Haas-Ferrari    37
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Vettel takes Singapore Grand Prix pole

Sebastian Vettel claimed his 49th career pole position in Formula 1, with a electrifying lap around the tight, twisty Singapore Grand Prix street circuit.

Championship leader and rival Lewis Hamilton could only qualify in fifth position, behind a pair of Ferraris and Red Bulls.

Vettel set a time quick enough for pole position on his first run in Q3, during which all drivers used ultrasoft Pirelli compound, with a one minute, 39.669 seconds.

He then survived a light brush of the wall on his second run to improve to a one minute, 39.491 seconds to take pole from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen by 0.323 seconds.

Verstappen had set the pace in Q2, but after recording the second quickest time on his first run in Q3 he was unable to improve on his second run.

Daniel Ricciardo was third in the other Red Bull, but could only improve by 0.022 seconds on his second run.

That left Kimi Raikkonen in fourth position, with The Iceman unable to carry his impressive first-sector pace into the second and third sectors of his final lap.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both qualified on the fifth row, with the gap between the Mercedes team-mates almost seven tenths of a second.

Nico Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest in seventh for Renault, just ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Stoffel Vandoorne was ninth, well ahead of tenth-placed Carlos Sainz.

Renault driver Jolyon Palmer missed out on Q3 after being relegated to P11 by Alonso on the second runs in the second segment of qualifying.

He failed to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2 thanks to a moment in the final corner, which the team suggested over the radio cost him tenth place.

Sergio Perez complained about having “no grip at all” on his second Q2 run and ended up P12 after being unable to improve on his first-run time.

Daniil Kvyat did improve on his second run for Toro Rosso, but only by enough to take P13 ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Romain Grosjean, who paid two visits to the Turn 7 escape road in Q1, didn’t post a time on his first run in Q2 and was unable to do better than P15 when he made his second attempt.

Kevin Magnussen was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 after being relegated to P16 by Hulkenberg’s leap up the order.

Williams driver Felipe Massa was also knocked out in P17 after a difficult session, not posting a serious lap time on his first run after clipping the wall at the exit of Turn 21 and suffering a right-rear puncture

Massa then had a big moment in the fast left-hander final corner on his final flying lap, which ensured any faint hope he had of making Q2 was lost.

Lance Stroll was P18 ahead of Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who also had a minor brush with the wall at Turn 21 on his final run.

Marcus Ericsson was last in the second Sauber, and will be given a five-place grid penalty thanks to a gearbox change triggered by damage suffered when he hit the wall during free practice 3.

So an important qualifying session for Sebastian Vettel in terms of the Formula 1 world championship. That was Ferrari’s 212 pole in the sport and with title rival Lewis Hamilton down in fifth, this was the best outcome. Bring on the Singapore Grand Prix!

Qualifying positions, Singapore Grand Prix:

1 Sebastian Vettel      Ferrari     1:39.491
2 Max Verstappen      Red Bull     1:39.814
3 Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull      1:39.840
4 Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari     1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes     1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas      Mercedes     1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg      Renault     1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso      McLaren-Honda     1:41.179
9 Stoffel Vandoorne      McLaren-Honda     1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer      Renault-Renault     1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.246
13 Daniil Kvyat      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.338
14 Esteban Ocon      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.760
15 Romain Grosjean      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.756
17 Felipe Massa      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.014
18 Lance Stroll      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.728
19 Pascal Wehrlein      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.059
20 Marcus Ericsson      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.570

McLaren splits from Honda and joins Toro Rosso while Sainz gets Renault promotion

The McLaren nightmare with Honda power has come to an end with the news that this technical partnership will cease once the 2017 season is over.

McLaren and engine partners Honda have announced they are to end their current technical agreement at the end of the 2017 campaign. The team have been using the Japanese company’s power units for the past three seasons, with very limited success.

“Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” commented Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal.

“Although our partnership has not produced the desired success, that does not diminish the great history our two companies have enjoyed together, nor our continued efforts to achieve success in Formula 1. At this point in time, it is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately.”

“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” added Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015. Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”

Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director, added that despite mixed results, Honda’s “commitment and energy to the mission of success in Formula 1″ could not be doubted.

“They are proven winners and innovators,” he said. “For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished. It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions. As fellow racers, we hope to see the great name of Honda get back to the top – our sport is better for their involvement. I know this view is shared by everyone in the sport.”

Since joining forces in 2015, McLaren and Honda had been hoping to rekindle the success that took them to multiple world titles as partners in the late Eighties and early Nineties. However, the team finished just ninth in the standings that first year and sixth last season. In the 2017 table they again lie ninth, with only 11 points.

And so ends the three challenging and difficult seasons with Honda. McLaren will take on Renault power units from 2018 onwards, thanks to a swap deal with Toro Rosso.

Next season will see McLaren running power units from Renault, following their split from Honda announced earlier today. Honda will instead supply Toro Rosso, who are currently using Renault engines.

McLaren have agreed an engine supply partnership with Renault for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Despite a combined Formula 1 presence that stretches back to 1977, it will mark the first time that the two brands have ever collaborated.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have struck a multi-year agreement to put Honda’s power units in the back of their cars from 2018, having used Renault engines this year as well in 2014 and 2015. In that period they scored 137 points together, with two fourth places their best results.

McLaren say their Renault partnership will be one that will challenge for victory, following three disappointing seasons with Honda power.

“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director.

“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”

The deal means that in addition to their own works squad, Renault will have two other championship-winning teams – McLaren and Red Bull – providing feedback on engine development next year.

“This is a strategic decision,” said Jerome Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “This alliance is not only technical and sporting, but also comes with marketing and communication benefits. We know that McLaren will push us hard on track and this competition will be to the benefit of all.”

Best of luck Toro Rosso with Honda power. Hopefully better fortunes for the junior Red Bull team.

As for Carlos Sainz, Renault have announced that he will join them from Toro Rosso for 2018, though Carlos will only be ‘on loan’ from Red Bull.

The 23-year-old Spaniard will partner Nico Hulkenberg in a revised line-up, bringing Jolyon Palmer’s two-season spell with the team to a close.

“Carlos Sainz is a very promising driver who has been on our radar for some time, especially after his successes in Renault junior formulae,” said Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing.

“It is positive news for us to be able to confirm Carlos for 2018. This choice is well aligned with our mid-term strategic plans. We feel that Nico and Carlos will complement each other on and off track and the combination should help us push forwards on the grid.

“I would like to thank [Red Bull motorsport consultant ] Helmut Marko for loaning Carlos to us for this period. We must thank Jolyon for his ongoing hard work with the team and his efforts over the past two seasons. He is a dedicated driver and we wish him the best in the next steps of his career.”

Sainz, who has raced in 53 Grands Prix to date, scoring 100 points with a best finish of sixth place, expressed his delight with the move.

“I’m very happy to be joining Renault Sport Formula One Team,” he said. “To be a Formula 1 driver for a manufacturer team is an honour and I hope to reward Renault’s faith in me with my very best performances on track.

“The trajectory of Renault Sport Formula One Team is exciting and I’m proud to join at such an important time in their history. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Enstone and Viry, and driving alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

“I have worked closely with Renault in Formula 1 and previously in motorsport, so I know their motivation and capabilities. This is the start of a very exciting new chapter in my career.

“I would like to say thank you to Red Bull for all their confidence and support and for allowing me to take this opportunity. Last but not least, I specially want to thank all the people that work in Toro Rosso. They are a fantastic team of professionals and I wish them the best for the future.”

Red Bull’s Marko said he wished Sainz the best of luck in his new role, and, with reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings, hinted that the Spaniard’s move would open the door for another young driver at Toro Rosso.

“He is a tremendous talent and he will benefit from working with a manufacturer team alongside a highly experienced driver,” said Marko of Sainz. “This will give Carlos a different challenge and we will be keenly watching his progress there as he remains part of the Red Bull family.

“This is very good development for both Carlos and Renault Sport Formula One Team and will also allow us to bring a new talent into Formula One.”

So a crazy swap shop deals in the world of Formula 1. McLaren are now Renault. Toro Rosso will use Honda and Carlos Sainz gets a promotion to a top works team.

Hamilton victorious at Monza

Lewis Hamilton was just in a class of his own at Monza following a dominant drive to win the Italian Grand Prix and seize the championship lead outright for the first time this season.

The Mercedes driver led away from pole and controlled the race from the front, taking the flag by 4.4 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel third, 36.3 seconds behind the leader.

It was Hamilton’s sixth victory of the season and moves him three points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ standings with Bottas a further 41 adrift.

Hamilton made a good start from pole, moving right across the track to defend from Lance Stroll and leading into Turn 1.

Esteban Ocon, starting third, took advantage of Stroll getting baulked to sweep around the outside and settle into second.

Further back, Bottas banged wheels with Kimi Raikkonen as they came through the first chicane, eventually making a pass stick to take fourth place.

Raikkonen snatched the position back at the second chicane, but Bottas then swept around the outside of Parabolica to reclaim the position.

Bottas then took third on lap three from Stroll before breezing past Ocon the following lap to move into second before setting off in pursuit of Hamilton.

Valtteri closed the gap but couldn’t get within two seconds off Lewis and ultimately finished second to secure Mercedes’s third one-two of the year.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive recovery drive from P16, running a very long stint on the softs to move up the order.

Ricciardo emerged on fresh super-softs after his only stop and put a great move on Raikkonen for fourth, then set about chasing Vettel, taking big amount of time out of the Ferrari driver but ultimately running out of laps.

Earlier in the race Raikkonen, who complained of a problem with the rear end of his car, had pitted early in a bid to leapfrog Ocon and Stroll.

The Iceman partially succeeded, getting ahead of Stroll who was delayed in his stop with a sticky left-rear tyre.

But he had to pass Ocon on track, launching an attack on the approach to the first chicane to take the place and going on to finish fifth, ahead of Ocon.

Stroll challenged Ocon in the closing stages but couldn’t make a move stick, and in the end he held off a spirited attack from Williams team-mate Felipe Massa to take seventh with Sergio Perez failing to take advantage of the squabble to end up ninth.

Massa survived contact with Perez and Max Verstappen early in the race to take eighth.

Verstappen was furious with Massa when they collided at Turn 1, the contact giving the Red Bull a front right puncture and dropping him back to the field.

But he recovered to take tenth but only after brief contact with Kevin Magnussen on the approach to the second chicane after he’d passed the Haas at the start of the lap.

It was a miserable race for McLaren, with Stoffel Vandoorne retiring after reporting “no power” and team-mate Fernando Alonso following suit on the penultimate lap at the request of the team.

Jolyon Palmer was on the fringes of the top ten, but was asked to retire his Renault by the team after it had discovered a problem.

So a perfect Sunday afternoon drive for Lewis Hamilton. No challenge from his rivals and he now becomes the new championship leader. Ferrari had no answer to the sheer speed from the Silver Arrows but the fight for the title is still on. Bring on the next race.

Italian Grand Prix, race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    53    1h15m32.310s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    53    4.471s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    53    36.317s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    53    40.335s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    53    1m00.082s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m11.528s
7    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.156s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.834s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m15.276s
10    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    52    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso/Renault    52    1 Lap
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    52    1 Lap
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    52    1 Lap
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    51    2 Laps
17    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    50    3 Laps
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    49    4 Laps
–    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    33    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    29    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    238
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    197
4    Daniel Ricciardo    144
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    58
8    Esteban Ocon    55
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    24
13    Romain Grosjean    24
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    435
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    212
4    Force India-Mercedes    113
5    Williams-Mercedes    55
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton beats Michael Schumacher’s pole record in rain-delayed Monza qualifying

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record 69th Formula 1 pole position in a rain-delayed Italian Grand Prix qualifying session, beating Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as Ferrari struggled.

Qualifying was delayed for more than two and a half hours, after a heavy crash for Romain Grosjean’s Haas on the pit straight caused the session to be halted and then suspended as heavy rain deluged the Monza circuit.

The intensity of the rain varied throughout qualifying when it finally resumed, and a break in the rain in the closing minutes of Q3 allowed Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to briefly lock out the front row before Hamilton’s late show – which helped him surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 Formula 1 poles that he equaled last time out in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Though exciting, the battle was rendered meaningless by grid penalties for both Red Bulls for making illegal engine component changes ahead of practice.

Verstappen is set to receive a 20-place grid penalty and Ricciardo a 25-place penalty, which will promote Williams rookie Lance Stroll to a sensational front row start for the race.

Stroll lapped inside the top five in Q2 and was fourth fastest in Q3, only three tenths slower than Verstappen.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was fifth quickest, while Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in Q1, abandoned his final flying lap so ended up only sixth on the final timesheet.

That was one position better than the Ferrari drivers managed, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh and championship leader Sebastian Vettel eighth as they struggled for grip on the Pirelli wet tyres.

Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten.

Sergio Perez looked to have joined Force India team-mate Ocon in making Q3 after a late improvement in Q2, but his lap was 0.002 seconds slower than Ocon’s and failed to get the job done after a last-gasp effort from Vandoorne.

Perez should start inside the top ten anyway, owing to those grid penalties for the Red Bull drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg sat inside the top ten after the initial Q2 runs, but his Renault struggled for grip on intermediates on his second run and slipped to P12. He will drop further back thanks to a 10-place grid penalty for changing his MGU-H before final practice.

Fernando Alonso, who faces a 35-place grid penalty of his own, made only one run in Q2, but it was good enough to put his McLaren-Honda P13, ahead of Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr, who also faces a 10-place grid penalty.

Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and the Saubers were eliminated in Q1, along with Grosjean.

Magnussen made a late improvement on intermediate tyres after the initial runs on full wets, but this was not enough for him to escape the drop zone.

The Haas driver finished up 0.701 seconds adrift of Sainz’s Toro Rosso, while Palmer’s Renault was bumped to P17.

Palmer is set to take a 15-place grid penalty for engine component swaps ahead of final practice, so will drop behind Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Grosjean in the final reckoning.

Ericsson trailed Sauber team-mate Wehrlein by almost a second after the wet-tyre running, but beat him to P18 by 0.143 seconds with a late improvement on intermediates.

Grosjean didn’t take part in the restarted session after his earlier crash.

So a lengthy rain delay, the wait was worth it. Lewis Hamilton set a new record in Formula 1 as the most successful driver with pole position. Lance Stroll earning his best ever grid position after an impressive qualifying run. Will start the Italian Grand Prix alongside the triple champion.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m35.554s
2    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.032s
3    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.719s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m37.833s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m37.987s
6    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m38.064s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.251s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m39.157s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.582s
10    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.245s
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m40.489s
12    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.732s
13    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.875s
14    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.702s
15    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m38.059s
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.526s
17    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.841s
18    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m40.646s
19    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.202s
20    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m43.355s

Hamilton resists Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vetel in the Belgian Grand Prix to reduce the gap in the championship to seven points.

The Mercedes driver managed a late safety car and a tyre disadvantage to fend off the Ferrari with relative ease, as Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise third for Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton made a good start from pole position and built a 1.7-seconds lead before stopping for new soft tyres on lap 12 of 44.

Vettel ran two laps longer in the opening stint and rejoined two seconds behind Hamilton, who cleared Kimi Raikkonen the lap before Vettel pitted.

A great first full flying lap for Vettel took 1.2 seconds out of Hamilton’s lead and thrust the Ferrari into DRS range, but Hamilton responded immediately.

He built his advantage up to two seconds, before a safety car changed the complexion of the race entirely.

Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez had clashed on the run to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, then came together in more dramatic fashion on lap 29.

Fighting over seventh position, Ocon cut back on his team-mate exiting La Source, only for Perez to edge across and break Ocon’s front wing with his right-rear tyre.

That caused Perez’s tyre to deflate entering Eau Rouge and the pair littered the track with debris.

The field swapped tyres under the safety car period, with Hamilton taking softs to Vettel’s ultra-softs and then complaining over the radio as the safety car remained on track for three laps.

Vettel was tucked up underneath the Mercedes’ rear wing through Eau Rouge and Raidillon at the restart and pulled alongside as Hamilton defended on the run to Les Combes.

Somehow Hamilton hung on, and found enough speed on the slower tyre to bump Vettel out of DRS range and gradually extend his lead until the end to win by 2.3 seconds.

Ricciardo started the race sixth but made his way to the podium, at a track not suited to the Renault-powered Red Bull, with a blend of fortune and opportunism.

Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical problem early on and stopped at the side of the track exiting Eau Rouge, which handed Ricciardo fifth – and ultimately fourth as well.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to slow sufficiently under the yellow flags that were thrown while Verstappen’s car was recovered and had to serve a ten-second stop-go penalty.

That meant Ricciardo ran fourth under the late safety car, and used a slipstream and ultra-soft tyres at the restart to nail Valtteri Bottas’s soft-shod Mercedes into Les Combes.

Raikkonen dived inside Bottas at the same time to recover to fourth, as Bottas finished a muted fifth having run comfortably in third before the caution.

Nico Hulkenberg finished best of the rest for Renault with a quiet but excellent drive, while Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa took advantage of the messy race to claim seventh and eighth.

Ocon, who labelled Perez a “f***ing idiot” over the radio, recovered to ninth as Perez eventually retired, while Carlos Sainz Jr took the final point.

Fernando Alonso ran as high as seventh but gradually fell back down the order and eventually retired with an engine problem in his McLaren-Honda.

Belgian Grand Prix race result:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    44    1h24m42.820s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    44    2.358s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    44    10.791s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    44    14.471s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    44    16.456s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    44    28.087s
7    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    44    23h35m17.s
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    44    23h35m17.s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
17    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    42    Not running
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    25    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    7    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    220
2    Lewis Hamilton    213
3    Valtteri Bottas    179
4    Daniel Ricciardo    132
5    Kimi Raikkonen    128
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    47
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    27
12    Romain Grosjean    24
13    Lance Stroll    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    392
2    Ferrari    348
3    Red Bull-Renault    199
4    Force India-Mercedes    103
5    Williams-Mercedes    45
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton equals Schumacher’s pole position record at Spa

Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record tally of 68 career poles with a commanding performance in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Mercedes driver impressively broke through the one minute, 43 seconds barrier for the first time in Q2, and repeated the feat on his first run in Q3, leading Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than three tenths of a second.

Hamilton found even more speed on his second Q3 run, taking pole with a brilliant one minute, 42.553 seconds effort.

Vettel’s Ferrari languished in fourth after the first runs in Q3, but the world championship leader pulled things together on his second run, taking a tow from team-mate Raikkonen in the final sector to beat Bottas to the front row.

Vettel’s one minute, 42.795 seconds lap made him the only driver other than Hamilton to lap below one minute, 43 seconds.

Bottas improved to a one minute, 43.094 seconds best on his own final run, but struggled in the middle sector compared to his team-mate and ended up relegated to the second row.

Raikkonen held a provisional front row spot after the first runs in Q3, despite suffering unexplained vibrations from the rear of his Ferrari throughout qualifying, but “f***** it up” on his final Q3 run so aborted the lap and dropped to fourth.

Max Verstappen was best of the Red Bulls in fifth, almost half a second clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, while Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault comfortably beat the Force Indias of Sergio Perez – who complained of a loss of grip in Q3 – and Esteban Ocon to seventh.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer looked set to qualify best of the rest behind the top three teams after setting the seventh quickest time in Q2, but he broke down at the exit of Stavelot on his out-lap in Q3, after losing gearbox oil pressure, so wound up P10.

Fernando Alonso missed out on the final Q3 spot by 0.084 seconds, despite the efforts of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne to give Alonso a tow along the Kemmel Straight on Alonso’s final flying lap.

Alonso then aborted the attempt, complaining of “no power” from his Honda engine at the exit of Pouhon over team radio.

Romain Grosjean found more than three tenths on his second Q2 run, but that was only good enough for P12, ahead of Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen – who went slower on his second attempt – and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Grosjean felt he lost downforce behind Vandoorne’s pitting McLaren in the final sector, without which he felt he might have made the top ten.

Vandoorne was P15, but didn’t set a time in Q2 and will drop to the back of the grid with a 65-place penalty for two illegal engine changes earlier in the weekend.

This was a disastrous Spa weekend for Williams with both cars dropping out in Q1. Felipe Massa fell less than a tenth short of making the cut after a late improvement, knocked out by a better one from Sainz’s Toro Rosso.

Massa ended up P16, but will drop back thanks to a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in final practice.

Daniil Kvyat was P17 for Toro Rosso, almost seven tenths adrift of Sainz, complaining he had “no reference” after breaking down with an engine problem in the morning session. Kvyat will take a 20-place grid penalty for requiring an engine, turbo and MGU-H change before qualifying.

Massa’s Williams team-mate Lance Stroll was P18, but didn’t venture out for a second run in Q1 due to a rear wing problem.

Marcus Ericsson won the private battle of the Saubers to avoid being slowest of all in qualifying, beating team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to P19 by 0.465 seconds. Both will take grid penalties for gearbox changes.

So an excellent qualifying performance by Lewis Hamilton. Pole position was important for the Formula 1 title challenger and to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 is remarkable.

Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m42.553s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m42.795s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m43.094s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m43.270s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.380s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.863s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m44.982s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.244s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.369s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m45.090s
12    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.133s
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.400s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.439s
15    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    –
16    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m45.823s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m46.028s
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m46.915s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.214s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.679s

Vettel resisted big pressure to win Hungarian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel held off his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to score a tense Hungarian Grand Prix victory, as Lewis Hamilton handed Valtteri Bottas third and the Red Bulls collided.

Vettel, who drove most of the race with steering issues, crossed the finishing line 0.9 seconds ahead of Raikkonen to secure Ferrari’s second one-two of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Hamilton gave up third position to Bottas on the final lap as agreed after his Mercedes team-mate had let him through under team orders earlier in the race to try to attack the Ferraris.

Vettel’s fourth win of the season, and first since Monaco in May, extends his championship lead to 14 points over Hamilton heading into the summer break.

Vettel and Raikkonen stayed one-two after the start, with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen swarming the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

Verstappen got around the outside of Hamilton with a bold move into Turn 1, but ran wide on the exit and then came under pressure from Ricciardo.

Verstappen locked up into Turn 2 and ran into Ricciardo, causing damage to the left-hand side of his team-mate’s Red Bull but escaping unharmed himself.

Ricciardo, who was furious with Verstappen on the radio, dropped down the field and then spun at Turn 3, with fluid leaking from his car, forcing Jolyon Palmer off track to avoid contact.

He then pulled over to the side of the track and retired, bringing out the safety car.

The stewards deemed Verstappen to be at fault, imposing a ten-second time penalty.

Vettel led comfortably from Raikkonen in the first stint but then started reporting steering concerns.

As the Mercedes started closing on the Ferraris, Raikkonen called on his team to ask Vettel, who was struggling to turn in, to cede position but the request was not accepted.

Mercedes agreed to Hamilton’s similar request with Bottas, that the positions will get swapped back if Hamilton could not pass Raikkonen.

Once through, Hamilton was soon on Raikkonen’s gearbox and was told he had five laps of full power to make an overtake.

That deadline was extended but Hamilton could not get through and gave up the chase in the closing laps.

Verstappen had run long before his pitstop and led for a spell before the penalty dropped him back.

He rapidly closed on the lead top four in the final stages and began to attack Bottas, raising doubts over whether Mercedes would be able to swap its cars back.

But Hamilton lifted off on the final lap, allowing Bottas through then slotting back in just ahead of Verstappen, as Raikkonen shadowed Vettel to the flag in front.

Fernando Alonso scored McLaren-Honda’s best finish of the season with sixth, setting fastest lap right at the end, while Stoffel Vandoorne gave it two cars in the points with tenth.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr was seventh after a controversial early wheel-banging battle with Alonso, just ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Grosjean, who made contact with Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson at the start, was forced to pull over and retire his Haas when a wheelnut was cross-threaded at his pitstop.

The unwell Felipe Massa’s stand-in Paul di Resta spent his first Formula 1 race since 2013 battling with the Saubers before Williams told him to retire late on due to an oil leak.

After dropping back in his first-corner clash with Grosjean, Hulkenberg looked set to regain ground by running long only for a problem in his pitstop to drop him back.

He was then forced off the road while trying to pass Kevin Magnussen, who was given a 5s penalty for the move, for P11 and retired just as he had caught back up to Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat.

So a brilliant result for Scuderia Ferrari at the Hungaroring. Sebastian Vettel’s 50th race in red was victory number seven this season and he now extends his lead in the championship to 14 points as the sport take a summer break.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results after 70 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h39m46.713s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0.908s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    12.462s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    12.885s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    13.276s
6    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m11.223s
7    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
14    Lance Stroll    Williams/Mercedes    1 Lap
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
17    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    3 Laps
–    Paul Di Resta    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Collision
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Withdrawn

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    202
2    Lewis Hamilton    188
3    Valtteri Bottas    169
4    Daniel Ricciardo    117
5    Kimi Raikkonen    116
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    45
9    Carlos Sainz    35
10    Nico Hulkenberg    26
11    Felipe Massa    23
12    Lance Stroll    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    357
2    Ferrari    318
3    Red Bull-Renault    184
4    Force India-Mercedes    101
5    Williams-Mercedes    41
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    39
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    26
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Vettel breaks Hungaroring lap record to earn 48th career pole

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel achieved his 48th career pole position in Formula 1 and led a Scuderia Ferrari one-two at the Hungaroring.

Vettel was fastest in final practice earlier, leading the way in Q1, and was the first driver to lap under under one minute, 17 seconds in Q2, before Hamilton made a second run.

The four-time champion then set a time of one minute, 16.276 seconds best on his first run in Q3 to take pole, which proved enough to get the job done despite Vettel lapping slightly slower on his second attempt.

Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen snatched a brake at Turn 1 on his first run in Q3 so was down in fifth, but The Iceman improved dramatically on his second run to leap into second position, within two tenths of Vettel’s mark.

Hamilton went off at the fast Turn 4 on his first run in Q2 and did so again in Q3. He struggled for grip throughout qualifying, complained of vibrations through the tyres, and ultimately wound up only fourth quickest, more than four tenths of a second off the pace.

Mercedes struggled in the first sector of the lap compared to Ferrari and Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was only third fastest, 0.163 seconds clear of Hamilton.

Max Verstappen was second quickest in Q1 and third in Q2, but Red Bull faded from the pole position fight in Q3.

Verstappen was fifth fastest, a tenth behind Hamilton, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, only 0.021 seconds adrift despite missing most of final practice with a hydraulic problem.

Nico Hulkenberg lapped quicker than Ricciardo in Q2 and ended up best of the rest for Renault in seventh, just under a tenth clear of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda.

Stoffel Vandoorne made Q3 for the second race in a row and qualified ninth, three tenths behind Alonso.

Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso rounded out the top ten.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was P11, missing the Q3 cut by a tenth of a second thanks to a superb final flying lap in Q2 from Sainz.

Esteban Ocon was best of the Force Indias in P12, ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, Ocon’s Force India team-mate Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean’s Haas.

Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen matched Perez to the thousandth of a second in Q1, but missed the Q2 cut by account of setting his best time later than the Force India driver.

Lance Stroll’s Williams was only 0.007 seconds further back in P17, while emergency stand-in team-mate Paul di Resta outstandingly split the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson to qualify P19 for his first Grand Prix since 2013.

Paul di Resta achieved this despite not having driven a 2017-spec Formula 1 car before, and only turning his first laps of the weekend in qualifying after Felipe Massa fell ill in final practice.

The former Force India racer gradually worked down to a time 0.766 seconds slower than Stroll, only 0.029 seconds slower than Wehrlein, and over a tenth clear of Ericsson. Williams rightly called this a “fantastic job” in difficult circumstances.

The Sauber drivers ended up more than seven tenths adrift of Stroll’s Williams, despite planning to run their year-old Ferrari engines at full power for the first time this season, after having cooling updates fitted to the cars.

So a fantastic result for Ferrari. A front row lock-out for the red cars. Sebastian Vettel is in prime spot to extend his championship lead but never discount Lewis Hamilton. Despite qualifying in fourth position, the Mercedes is still the car to beat. Bring on the racing action.

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m16.276s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m16.444s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m16.530s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m16.693s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m16.797s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m16.818s
7    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m17.549s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m17.894s
9    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m18.311s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m18.415s
11    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m18.495s
12    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m17.468s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m18.538s
14    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m18.639s
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m18.771s
16    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m19.095s
17    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m19.102s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.839s
19    Paul Di Resta      Williams-Mercedes    1m19.868s
20    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.972s

Hamilton scores British Grand Prix victory as Ferrari hit puncture trouble

Lewis Hamilton was victorious at Silverstone after a dominant drive and with a late drama for his championship rival, the Mercedes star has slashed the points gap to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to a single digit.

Hamilton led from lights to flag, crossing the line 14 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen completing the British Grand Prix podium.

There was late drama as Raikkonen and Vettel suffered front left tyre problems with three and two laps to go respectively, when running second and fourth.

Raikkonen pitted and rejoined to take third with Vettel – who had reported blistering after a big lock-up – falling right back to seventh position as he had to drive further on his wrecked tyre.

It was Hamilton’s fourth victory of the season, his fourth consecutive British Grand Prix win and fifth Formula 1 triumph at Silverstone.

At the start, Raikkonen challenged Hamilton into the first corner, but the leader held firm and set about building an advantage.

Vettel made a slow start, slipping behind Verstappen before retaking the position only for the Red Bull driver to go back past around him on the outside at the Loop.

The race was neutralised when the safety car was deployed to clear debris after Daniil Kvyat ran wide onto the grass, lost control and hit Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz.

At the restart, Hamilton pushed clear, first holding a steady gap to Raikkonen before putting the hammer down ahead of the pitstops.

Further back, Vettel put pressure on Verstappen, attacking down the inside of Stowe, only for the Red Bull to hold on around the outside.

Verstappen managed to stay ahead under braking for Vale, squeezing Vettel wide into the chicane and prompting the Ferrari driver to raise his hand in frustration.

Vettel was the first of the frontrunners to pit, with Red Bull reacting by bringing Verstappen in next time around.

But a problem with a wheelnut delayed Verstappen, meaning he rejoined behind Vettel and did not have the pace to respond.

Raikkonen pitted soon after, with Hamilton following suit on the next lap and rejoining comfortably in the lead, ahead of Bottas, who had yet to pit having run deep on softs after starting ninth following a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

It wasn’t until lap 33 of 51 that Mercedes called in Bottas, the only driver in the top ten to start on the softs, in for the super-softs, and he rejoined fourth.

He used the fresher, softer rubber to gradually reduce the gap to Vettel and then launched an attack on the run to Club, but the Ferrari driver locked up and kept the position.

On the next lap, Bottas was much closer to Vettel on Hangar Straight and swept around the outside of Vettel with ease before they reached Stowe.

Bottas then inherited second when Raikkonen suffered the tyre issue, with Verstappen pitting late as a precaution and rejoining in fourth, ending a run of three successive retirements.

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive recovery drive to take fifth, having started P19 after a series of grid penalties for engine component and gearbox changes and dropping to last early on having run into the gravel when trying to pass Kevin Magnussen.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg equalled his best finish of the season with sixth, losing out to Ricciardo late on, but his team-mate Jolyon Palmer failed to take the start after reporting brake-by-wire and hydraulic problems on the formation lap.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez gave Force India an eighth double points finish in ten races with eighth and ninth ahead of Felipe Massa. They had ended up in a three-way battle that developed as they queued behind the long-running Magnussen before the Haas finally pitted.

McLaren again failed to score – although Stoffel Vandoorne was not far behind Massa in P11. Fernando Alonso retired midway through the race having got up to P14 from his back of the grid start.

So a brilliant result for the home crowd favourite. That was an important victory for Lewis Hamilton in terms of the championship.

The late race drama from Ferrari was unfortunate. Both for the drivers and team. Kimi Raikkonen was heading for second position but a puncture cost The Iceman a runner-up spot. Third was the end result.

As for Sebastian Vettel. This was a difficult race, fighting against Max Verstappen. The championship leader also suffered a puncture, much to the delight of the Silverstone crowd. Sebastian dragged his Ferrari around to take seventh.

Only a single point between the Mercedes driver and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as the title race hots up. It’s game on for the championship.

British Grand Prix race results, 51 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h21m27.430s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    14.063s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    36.570s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    52.125s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m05.955s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m08.109s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.989s
8    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
11    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas/Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
16    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Collision
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Not started

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    177
2    Lewis Hamilton    176
3    Valtteri Bottas    154
4    Daniel Ricciardo    117
5    Kimi Raikkonen    98
6    Max Verstappen    57
7    Sergio Perez    52
8    Esteban Ocon    43
9    Carlos Sainz    29
10    Nico Hulkenberg    26
11    Felipe Massa    23
12    Lance Stroll    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Pascal Wehrlein    5
16    Daniil Kvyat    4
17    Fernando Alonso    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Marcus Ericsson    0
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    330
2    Ferrari    275
3    Red Bull-Renault    174
4    Force India-Mercedes    95
5    Williams-Mercedes    41
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    33
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    26
9    Sauber-Ferrari    5
10    McLaren-Honda    2