Lewis Hamilton strolled to victory at Silverstone with an imperious performance, and in doing so cut Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead to a single point as both Ferrari cars suffered punctures in the closing laps. Valtteri Bottas made it a Mercedes one-two with an excellent recovery drive from ninth on the grid, finishing ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and the two Red Bulls.
Hamilton leads away as Toro Rosso teammates collide
Raikkonen got a slightly better getaway from second but the short run to the first turn allowed pole-sitter Hamilton to cover him off. Max Verstappen took advantage of a slow start from Vettel and swept around the outside of him in turn 4, while everyone else made it safely through the first few turns – except for Jolyon Palmer, who suffered a hydraulic leak on the parade lap and parked up on Hangar Straight, causing an extra formation lap.
Daniil Kvyat suffered the wrath of the stewards at Spielberg after wiping out Alonso and Verstappen, so you would have expected him to keep his nose clean at Silverstone. He went the opposite way, committing the cardinal sin of colliding with Carlos Sainz as he tried to stay side-by-side through the Maggots and Becketts complex. The safety car was brought out while the debris was cleared up, and the Russian later served a drive-through for his indiscretion.
After the restart Vettel quickly began to apply the pressure to the Verstappen of Red Bull. The battle was at its most intense on lap 15 – Vettel moved to the inside on the run up to Stowe, Verstappen tried to hold it around the outside but was pushed wide by the Ferrari. He kept his foot down and had the inside line into the following chicane, where he returned the favour and pushed Vettel wide to the German’s obvious irritation. Valtteri Bottas had already made it up to fifth but was unable to get involved in the fight on his soft tyres.
Vettel undercuts Verstappen and Ricciardo cuts through field
Vettel was the first of the front-runners to pit and implemented the undercut to perfection, jumping in front of Verstappen despite the Red Bull pitting only a lap later. Hamilton and Raikkonen had a comfortable gap to those behind so didn’t feel the need to respond, only changing from super-softs to softs on laps 25 and 24 respectively. The stop was timed perfectly for the Brit as he emerged just in front of teammate Bottas, who was going long on soft tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo started from the back row following a turbo failure on Saturday and was determined to make his way through the field as quickly as possible. Despite being forced wide on the exit of Luffield by Romain Grosjean early on, he made up places fairly easily and broke into the points on lap 21, sweeping past Felipe Massa’s Williams. He eventually pitted on lap 32, as did Valtteri Bottas who emerged around five seconds behind Sebastian Vettel and quickly began to reel in the Ferrari.
Hamilton pulls clear of Ferraris
Raikkonen had managed to keep Hamilton in his sights for the first stint but after pitting the Brit was able to stretch the lead out, adding to the evidence that Mercedes are winning the development race over Ferrari. Vettel’s earlier stop allowed him to close to within five seconds of second place although he never looked likely to threaten the Finn without the help of team orders.
Further back in the field, Dan Ricciardo was slicing his way past the midfield runners, passing Perez, Ocon and Magnussen in quick succession around lap 37. Magnussen had gone the longest of anyone without pitting, possibly in the hope that rain would arrive, but with the showers still half an hour north of the circuit the gamble had not paid off.
Late tyre failures heats up title race
Bottas had gradually been closing on the final podium place, and with ten laps to go he had closed to within DRS range of the championship leader. Vettel appeared to be struggling on his soft tyres, locking up on numerous occasions. The crowd were expecting a titanic battle but the Finn made light work of Vettel, easily overtaking him into Stowe on lap 44.
The final three laps could prove to be a pivotal moment in the championship fight. Both Ferrari drivers had struggled with their tyres but there was no warning of what was to come – in successive laps, Raikkonen and Vettel suffered punctures and were forced to crawl back to the pits, while Red Bull brought Verstappen in as a precaution. In contrast, the two Mercedes were untroubled by the chaos behind them and made it safely home for a comfortable 1-2 finish, with Hamilton taking a fifth British Grand Prix victory.
Such were the gaps between the front-runners and the midfield that Raikkonen was able to pit and still finish on the podium, ahead of the two Red Bulls and an impressive Nico Hulkenberg. Vettel limped home in seventh, while Ocon, Perez and Massa completed the top ten. This was a dominant display from Mercedes and the pressure is now on Maranello to find a step up in performance before F1 heads to Hungary in a fortnight.
Vettel’s lead has been cut to a single point over Lewis Hamilton, with Bottas a further 22 points behind. Verstappen has leapfrogged Sergio Perez into sixth, while Hulkenberg’s sixth place has propelled him into the top ten.
- Vettel (Ferrari) – 177
- Hamilton (Mercedes) -176
- Bottas (Mercedes) – 154
- Ricciardo (Red Bull) – 117
- Raikkonen (Ferrari) – 98
- Verstappen (Red Bull) – 57
- Perez (Force India) – 52
- Ocon (Force India) – 43
- Sainz (Toro Rosso) – 29
- Hulkenberg (Renault) – 26
Mercedes have extended their lead over Ferrari to 55 points. The race for fifth is heating up with just 15 points separating Williams in fifth and Renault in eighth.
- Mercedes – 330
- Ferrari – 275
- Red Bull – 174
- Force India – 95
- Williams – 41
- Toro Rosso – 33
- Haas – 29
- Renault – 26
- Sauber – 5
- McLaren – 2