Vettel wins thrilling British Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel achieved his first British Grand Prix victory in a thrilling Silverstone race. The Ferrari driver passed Valtteri Bottas late on to win, while home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton charged back to second after being spun around on the opening lap.

Mercedes used a safety car to get Bottas ahead of early race leader Vettel but the Ferrari driver used fresher, softer tyres to steal the victory with a superb move five laps from the end of the race.

Hamilton then passed his team-mate Bottas at the same spot a lap later to seal second and Kimi Raikkonen made it a hat-trick of late passes at Brooklands to demote his fellow Finn from the podium entirely.

Hamilton dropped to the tail of the field at the start after Raikkonen locked his right-front tyre at the tight Turn 3 right-hander at Village, ran wide and hit the Mercedes.

Raikkonen continued behind both Red Bulls but was handed a 10-second penalty, which would negate his on-track pass of Daniel Ricciardo into Copse, while Hamilton resumed in P17.

Vettel had already assumed the lead after jumping Hamilton off the line and built a commanding lead in the first part of the opening stint, opening up a six-second gap over Bottas.

Hamilton charged back into the points by lap six and was into sixth four laps later, by which time he was already more than a pitstop behind the race leaders.

Bottas began to chip away at Vettel as the Ferrari struggled with its tyres and the lead was down to 4.8 seconds when Vettel stopped on lap 20.

Bottas pitted a lap later and Mercedes got Hamilton to release him with a position-swap at Brooklands the following lap, and the Finn started to nibble further into Vettel’s lead.

Valtteri had brought it down to 2.4 seconds when Marcus Ericsson lost the rear of his car when he turned into the first corner with DRS still open and flew across the gravel and nose-first into the tyres.

That triggered a safety car on lap 32 of 52 and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel but Mercedes told Bottas to stay out and claim track position.

Behind, Hamilton moved up to third as Max Verstappen and Raikkonen pit, with Ricciardo staying in sixth as the safety car was called just after he had made a second stop and handed track position to Raikkonen.

Bottas gunned the throttle at the end of the Hangar Straight on lap 37 and kept Vettel at bay, as Raikkonen and Verstappen engaged in a fierce fight that went the way of the Red Bull.

The race was neutralised again moments later for an accident at Copse between Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean, when Sainz attacked on the outside but Grosjean suffered a wobble at the apex.

Both flew off-track and into retirement, with Grosjean ending a miserable race that started with him dropping out of the points on the opening lap thanks to a collision with team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

The safety car’s second appearance lasted three laps, setting up an 11-lap sprint at the end.

Bottas resisted Vettel again at the restart before coming under attack into the Brooklands left-hander at the end of the Wellington Straight three laps in row.

He held on until lap 47, when Vettel took advantage of a slight wobble from Bottas exiting The Loop onto the Wellington Straight and drafted him towards Brooklands before diving inside very late as Bottas failed to cover the inside line.

That released Vettel into a lead he would hold to the end, while Hamilton forced his way inside Bottas at Brooklands a lap later.

Raikkonen cleared Verstappen before the Dutchman retired with a long-standing brake-by-wire problem then blew past Bottas for third on the outside into Brooklands using DRS.

Bottas managed to keep Ricciardo at bay to finish fourth, with Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault after taking advantage of the messy first lap to jump five places, and he held that best-of-the-rest slot to the end.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was a quiet but excellent seventh, as Fernando Alonso bested Magnussen in a fiery late fight to finish eighth.

Pierre Gasly claimed the final point in tenth for Toro Rosso and Honda.

So congratulations to Sebastian Vettel in winning the British Grand Prix. Despite neck pain, the four-time champion was able to race to victory. Vettel now has an eight-point lead to rival Lewis Hamilton.

As for the home hero, Hamilton did his best after a collision on the first lap. The Mercedes driver never give up and charged through to second. At least Lewis is still in a shout in the championship.

British Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 52 1h27m29.784s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 52 2.264s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 52 3.652s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 52 8.883s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 52 9.500s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 52 28.220s
7 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 52 29.930s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 52 31.115s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 52 33.188s
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 52 34.129s
11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 52 34.708s
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 52 35.774s
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 52 38.106s
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 52 48.113s
15 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 46 Not running
– Carlos Sainz Renault 37 Collision
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 37 Collision
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 31 Spun off
– Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 18 Retirement
– Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1 Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel 171
2 Lewis Hamilton 163
3 Kimi Raikkonen 116
4 Daniel Ricciardo 106
5 Valtteri Bottas 104
6 Max Verstappen 93
7 Nico Hulkenberg 42
8 Fernando Alonso 40
9 Kevin Magnussen 39
10 Carlos Sainz 28
11 Esteban Ocon 25
12 Sergio Perez 23
13 Pierre Gasly 19
14 Charles Leclerc 13
15 Romain Grosjean 12
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 4
18 Marcus Ericsson 3
19 Brendon Hartley 1
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Ferrari 287
2 Mercedes 267
3 Red Bull-Renault 199
4 Renault 70
5 Haas-Ferrari 51
6 Force India-Mercedes 48
7 McLaren-Renault 48
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 20
9 Sauber-Ferrari 16
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Hamilton takes Silverstone pole position

Home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton achieved his sixth British Grand Prix pole position, beating his championship rival Sebastian Vettel by 0.044 seconds.

Vettel had the edge after the first runs in the Q3 top ten shootout by 57 thousandths of a second, but Hamilton stepped up to the challenge on the second runs.

With the soft-compound Pirellis the tyre of choice through qualifying, Hamilton outpaced Vettel in the first and second sectors on the final run.

This meant Vettel’s flying final sector was not enough to reclaim P1 and left the Ferrari driver second on the starting grid.

Vettel missed his qualifying simulation during the final practice session with a neck problem, and admitted after his run that he wasn’t sure he would have been able to run in qualifying.

Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, qualified third and just 0.098 seconds off the pace after finding a three tenths improvement on his second run despite a lockup into the Turn 16 left-hander.

This followed complaining of losing his quick shift on his first run, and put him ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Max Verstappen was fifth quickest for Red Bull, half-a-second faster than team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

The Red Bull driver did not have the use of the DRS on his first run, which team principal Christian Horner attributed to a glitch with the system that governs when it can and cannot be used.

The problem wasn’t solved on his second run, although he was told he had manual use of the DRS provided he only activated it in the permitted zones.

Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean gave Haas best-of-the-rest honours in qualifying for the second consecutive race by locking out the fourth row.

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc qualified ninth, three tenths faster than Force India’s Esteban Ocon.

Nico Hulkenberg was P11 and quickest of those who didn’t reach Q3 after lapping 0.058 seconds behind Ocon.

With very few time improvements made on the second runs in Q2, that put Force India’s Sergio Perez in P12 ahead of McLaren driver Fernando Alonso.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was the only one of the drop zone contenders to find time on his second run, declaring himself happy he got the maximum out of the car.

This was enough to elevate him to P14 ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who had a relatively slow run through the final sector on his quickest lap.

Carlos Sainz was fastest of those eliminated in Q1 when he was bumped to P16 by Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg’s late improvement and said he lost time owing to Magnussen locking up ahead of him into Turn 3.

That put him ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who shed a piece of bodywork when he hit the inside kerb at Brooklands on his first run and ended up 0.640 seconds slower after his second attempt.

Vandoorne complained about something fundamental being wrong with the car and things not feeling right during both the morning practice session and qualifying.

Lance Stroll ended up P19 but did not set a time after spinning into the gravel at the Brooklands left-hander on his first flying lap – admitting he was “shocked” by the suddenness of the rear end snapping away.

As Stroll was unable to dig himself out of the gravel, he was forced to switch the car off and triggered a six-minute red flag while his Williams was recovered.

Brendon Hartley was unable to participate in qualifying thanks to damage sustained when he crashed at Brooklands during the final practice session.

This was caused by a front-left suspension failure, and the team must rebuild his car around a spare monocoque ahead of tomorrow’s race for him to start from the pitlane.

So a brilliant pole position for Lewis Hamilton. His 50th for Mercedes. Scoring this P1 result, right in front of his passionate fans was a magic moment. Kudos Hamilton on this achievement.

British Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.892s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m25.936s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m25.990s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m26.217s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m26.602s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m27.099s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m27.244s 1.352s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m27.455s 1.563s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.879s
10 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m28.194s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m27.901s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m27.928s
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m28.139s
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m28.343s
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.391s
16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m28.456s
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m29.096s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m29.252s
19 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes –
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda –

Verstappen victorious as Mercedes suffered double retirement

The crowd favourite Max Verstappen scored a popular victory at Red Bull Racing’s home race as Mercedes’ challenge imploded in a dramatic Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen headed the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who stole the championship lead from Lewis Hamilton by one point after Mercedes turned a one-two in qualifying into a double retirement.

Poleman Valtteri Bottas retired with a gearbox problem while a strategy error under the ensuing virtual safety car ruined Hamilton’s race and a loss of fuel pressure forced him to a late retirement.

Hamilton and Raikkonen jumped Bottas on the run to Turn 1, with the leaders three-wide, before Raikkonen tucked into Hamilton’s slipstream and attacked into Turn 3 but locked up and ran wide.

That allowed Verstappen to challenge him on the run out of the corner but Max was rebuffed aggressively and Bottas was able to re-pass both on the outside of Turn 4.

Verstappen got inside Raikkonen two corners later and a slight nudge on The Iceman’s left-rear wheel pushed him wide and allowed the Red Bull driver to sneak through.

Bottas offered no threat to Hamilton before slowing on lap 14 and retiring on the escape road at Turn 4 with a loss of hydraulic pressure.

That triggered a virtual safety car under which the frontrunners all stopped except for Hamilton, a mistake that Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio to apologise for.

Verstappen rejoined from his pitstop 13 seconds behind Hamilton, who ran ten laps without being able to stretch out the gap and eventually stopped.

That dropped him to fourth, handing Verstappen the lead, but Hamilton’s misery continued a few laps later when Vettel forced his way past on the grass on the way up to Turn 3 and aggressively ran Hamilton wide on the entry to corner.

Hamilton was gifted a position back just after mid-distance when Daniel Ricciardo had to pit to change tyres after battling a blistering left-rear.

He gave chase to Vettel after receiving another apology from Vowles over the radio but then had to make his own forced stop for the same reason as Ricciardo on lap 52.

Hamilton’s race lasted just another dozen laps before a loss of fuel pressure forced him off the road at Turn 3 and into retirement on the left-hand side of the circuit on the run down to Turn 4.

That ended a run off 33 consecutive races in the points for Hamilton, whose last retirement was his spectacular exit from the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix with an engine failure.

His dramatic race gave the top three an easy run to the podium, with Raikkonen closing to two seconds of Verstappen by the end but not troubling the 20-year-old and likewise being unchallenged by Vettel.

Ricciardo should have finished fourth in Hamilton’s absence but had already retired with an apparent gearbox problem when Hamilton stopped.

That meant Romain Grosjean ended his point-less start to the 2018 season in style with fourth place for Haas, the best result in the American team’s fledgling Formula 1 history.

His teammate Kevin Magnussen battled back from losing places after not pitting under the Bottas-induced virtual safety car to finish fifth and net Haas a huge points windfall.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took advantage of the chaos to rise to sixth and seventh from P11 and P15 on the grid, ahead of pitlane starter Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren driver ran P19 early on and, after complaining at that point to his team over the radio that he refused to run in that position all race, used the VSC and a strong, long second stint to charge to eighth late on.

That included an aggressive move on Charles Leclerc, who reclaimed ninth on the last lap from teammate Marcus Ericsson after the Sauber driver was let by to try to catch and pass Alonso on fresh tyres.

While that bid failed, Ericsson was still able to complete a double-points finish for Sauber after an extremely long first stint on softs and late charge on fresh supersofts.

Nico Hulkenberg and Brendon Hartley joined the three frontrunners in retiring from the race.

Renault’s Hulkenberg suffered a spectacular engine failure early on while Hartley stopped near the end after a bizarre mechanical failure forced him off-track at the penultimate corner and eventually forced him to stop at Turn 2.

So an entertaining race at the Red Bull Ring. Full of action, drama and overtaking. Many congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning and for Sebastian Vettel recovery from his grid penalty to take the championship lead by a single point.

It’s quite remarkable that both Mercedes were forced to retire. The last time the team suffered a double DNF was at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Ironically Verstappen scored his win that day followed by the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel.

The next race is the British Grand Prix and with strong home support, Lewis Hamilton is determined to strike back.

Austrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 71 1h21m56.024s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 1.504s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 3.181s
4 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 70 1 Lap
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 70 1 Lap
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 70 1 Lap
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 65 Not running
– Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 62 Retirement
– Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 54 Retirement
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 53 Retirement
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 13 Hydraulics
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 11 Power Unit

Drivers’ standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel 146
2 Lewis Hamilton 145
3 Kimi Raikkonen 101
4 Daniel Ricciardo 96
5 Max Verstappen 93
6 Valtteri Bottas 92
7 Kevin Magnussen 37
8 Fernando Alonso 36
9 Nico Hulkenberg 34
10 Carlos Sainz 28
11 Sergio Perez 23
12 Esteban Ocon 19
13 Pierre Gasly 18
14 Charles Leclerc 13
15 Romain Grosjean 12
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 4
18 Marcus Ericsson 3
19 Brendon Hartley 1
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Ferrari 247
2 Mercedes 237
3 Red Bull-Renault 189
4 Renault 62
5 Haas-Ferrari 49
6 McLaren-Renault 44
7 Force India-Mercedes 42
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 16
10 Williams-Mercedes 4