The British Grand Prix ranks as one of the top sporting events in the UK calendar, celebrating the country’s legendary racing talent – even more so this year as it clocked its 50th Formula 1 grand prix. Loved for unfailing delivery of on-track action and all-round excitement, year on year it attracts thousands of British fans hoping to see their homeboy claim the chequered flag – and in 2014 they did not leave disappointed.
With its traditionally unpredictable weather the Silverstone track posed a challenge for the majority of the grid, resulting in some surprising results in Saturday qualifying. To the crowd’s delight, Jenson Button, who commemorated his late father John by sporting a pink helmet that weekend, qualified third; while neither of the Ferrari or Williams made it into Q2. The pole sitter was more in line with the expectations, if not with the public demand, as the leading Mercedes belonged to Nico Rosberg and not Lewis Hamilton, who was to start from a distant 6.
The standing champion Sebastian Vettel seemed to have regained his mojo by clocking the second fastest time on Saturday – but he struggled to keep the momentum goining on race day. When the lights went out, the Red Bull instantly dropped behind the McLarens of Button and Kevin Magnussen as well as Hamilton, who picked himself up from a disappointing Saturday performance and charged for the win.
But as the front-grid battle between the Germans and the Brits (and a lone Dane) developed, a major accident at the back of the pack brought the whole thing to a shutdown. Red flags were brought out after Kimi Raikkonen lost control over his Ferrari and ended up crashing into barriers on both sides of the track, nearly sweeping Felipe Massa’s Williams off the road along the way. Superb avoiding action meant the Brazilian could drive away from the scene, but the weekend was still over for him there and then.
Watch the moment Raikkonen crashed out of the British GP in this video compilation by MrFormula1fan811:
Raikkonen also walked away from the crash safely, with only a sore ankle – but the force of the impact damaged the safety barriers to such degree that the stewards put the race on hold until it was fixed. An hour later the event resumed and all was back to normal when Rosberg launched himself to a comfortable lead on the first restart lap.
But soon enough – within laps 3 and 4 to be precise – Hamilton was past both McLarens and onto Rosberg’s tail. The Brit was catching his biggest – if not the only – championship title rival fast; and then on lap 30 it was all over when Rosberg stopped off track with a gearbox failure, virtually handing the laurels to his team-mate – Hamilton’s first home race win since 2008.
“All I can do is accept that these things happen and work with the team to find out what went wrong,” Rosberg said after the race.
“It’s a shame for the race in a way, as it could have been a great battle against Lewis, but congratulations to him for the win.”
With the race-lead battle having reached an anti-climax, there was still plenty of action elsewhere on the track to keep everyone occupied. The wrangle for 5. place between Vettel and Fernando Alonso, who proved his worth once more by moving to the front from a 19. start, is bound to become one of the most memorable scenes of the season. The two world champions raced virtually wheel to wheel for a number of corners on laps 47 and 48, epitomising pure driving talent and keeping the crowds at the edge of their seats. In the end, Vettel came out victorious – but not enough to claim the British podium.
The honour was granted to his team-mate instead, who outshone his senior once more by elbowing his way from 8. to third. But for the second consecutive weekend Red Bull had to concede to Williams. Just like Alonso did with his Ferrari, likewise Valtteri Bottas mastered his Williams from the back of the grid to second on lap 34 and remained there to claim the middle step on the podium.
“Like I said on the team radio: one step more to go,” the Finn said after receiving his trophy. Later he added with a bit more reserve:
“We are a stronger team than we were in the first few races and it won’t be easy to stay near the top but we are doing a great job of it at the moment.”
And the time sheets say it all – with a 30s advantage over the Williams when crossing the line Hamilton not only proved that he can deliver on a promise – he sealed the deal on Mercedes domination.
Or has he? The most recent change to regulations introduced by FIA after Silverstone (and by some dubbed a conspiracy to curtail Mercedes’ winning streak) will ban the FRIC suspension system (hydraulically interconnected suspension) – believed to be one of the key factors in Silver Arrow’s success. The ban is expected to be in force by next weekend – which happens to be Nico Rosberg’s home race. And as the German’s lead over his British team-mate in the championship standings narrowed down to mere four points, Hockenheim promises new dose of all sorts of excitement.