Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Stars align behind Lewis // Hamilton’s qualifying nightmare blossoms into critical win

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Hamilton gets his trophy
Credit: Daimler AG

The British Grand Prix was an action-packed race that will live long in the memory. From Lewis Hamilton seeing the red mist and hunting down his Mercedes’ teammate like a finely tuned predator, to Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso fighting their way through the field, to Jenson Button’s great defensive drive, this race had everything and I’m sure the fans won’t have minded waiting an extra hour after Kimi Räikkönen’s huge accident for the real fireworks to begin.

I would like to say congratulations to Lewis Hamilton for becoming the first Brit to win their home GP since he did so exactly 6 years ago, though I’m far happier he won because it obliterates Nico Rosberg’s rather large championship lead than because he won on home soil.

But the lack of resilience and huge error of judgement in qualifying and the fact that he almost inherited the win after Rosberg’s retirement – though I believe he had the pace to win outright – means that he falls short of the Class of the Field treatment.

F1’s future lines the podium

Valtteri Bottas, Williams Martini Racing: Started 14th, Finished 2nd

After such a spectacular weekend for Williams in Austria it was a shame to see them mired in Q1, as they so often have been in recent years. However, they were joined there by the Ferraris in a mixed up qualifying as rain fell at exactly the right time all session to spice up the action and shake up the order.

Despite ending up 17th, 2.5 seconds off the Q1 cut-off time, Bottas started 14th. He went to work on chasing through the pack right from the start, jumping up to ninth by the time teammate Felipe Massa collected Kimi Räikkönen’s stricken Ferrari and a one hour break ensued.

Bottas took a car a lap in the early stages
Bottas took a car a lap in the early stagesCredit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1

But that was just the beginning, he passed a car a lap in the early stages and latched on to the McLarens after ten laps with a clear pace advantage over Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. After a few minutes wearing down the young and old boys in the McLarens, Bottas was through and then set about consolidating a second podium in consecutive races and seeing if he could put a dent in the Mercedes lead. He couldn’t, but when one of them faltered in the form of Rosberg he was up to a career high second. The result was secured when, after passing half the field in his long first stint, he put on the prime tyres and ran on them until the end, managing them and maintaining the gap to Danny Ricciardo.

And speaking of the Aussie, he had a cracking race too. Much to Sebastian Vettel’s chagrin, Ricciardo went on an alternate strategy which launched him up to the final spot on the podium. Ricciardo ran five laps longer than Vettel in the first stint and that meant that when he stopped on lap 15 to put the prime tyres on, he was within range – just – of the end of the race.

But don’t think that it was solely strategy that allowed Ricciardo to beat his World Champion teammate once again. He showed great racecraft throughout the afternoon, putting a key move on Nico Hülkenberg early in the race to release him and allow him to use the true pace of the Red Bull, as well as other crucial passes throughout the race. Perhaps most impressively, he held off a highly-motivated Jenson Button in the closing laps with tyres that must have been fairly close to running on rims.

While it was Hamilton that took the top step, Bottas and Ricciardo both used the chaotic race to show why they will be the stars of the future.

Button so close to late podium

Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes: Started 3rd, Finished 4th

The whole of Britain was willing Jenson on to chase down Daniel Ricciardo’s car in the late stages. Ricciardo was trying his darndest to hold off Button with tyres that he had been using since lap 15. Button came up just short in a drive where you could almost feel the emotion flowing out of him as he drove for the fans but most importantly for his dad.

Button qualified a terrific third as he made the most of the dry third sector and put in a clean lap to beat all but Rosberg and Vettel in a bizarre session. And if you take a glance at Jenson Button’s race, you would think it was average having dropped one position from his start place. But that’s not even a bit of the story with his slower McLaren a target for those behind. Button started excellently to launch up to second and even had his teammate as a reargunner in third. I’m sure McLaren were doing cartwheels when the red flag came out, especially when it was announced they weren’t resetting them back to grid position. What would have worried them was Lewis Hamilton looming behind in fourth.

Jenson took huge chunks out of the lead each lap but came up just short
Jenson took huge chunks out of the lead each lap but came up just shortCredit: McLaren Mercedes

Both McLarens were quick easy prey for Lewis but after that, they set about holding off the chasing pack. Bottas came and went but Button held off manfully. He was however unable to stop the charging Ricciardo who stopped one less time but that set up a Grand Stand finale as Jenson took huge chunks out of the lead each lap but came up just short.

Old boys offer headline act

Sebastian Vettel, Infiniti Red Bull Racing: Started 2nd, Finished 5th / Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari: Started 16th, Finished 6th

The most enthralling action of the race surely came in the timeless battle between Vettel and Alonso. Despite them both fighting for the championship in recent years, rarely have we seen them fighting wheel to wheel on the track in comparable machinery.

Fernando Alonso pulled off a stunning move around the outside at Copse, a move that will go down in history as one of the best ever

It all started just after Sebastian Vettel’s second stop on lap 33 as Fernando Alonso pulled off a stunning move around the outside at Copse, a move that will go down in history as one of the best ever.

But Vettel didn’t take it lying down as he stalked the Ferrari in what became a battle of honour, twice fighting back at Brooklands when the position looked well and truly lost.

In the end, Sebastian Vettel finally got through; fittingly back where it all started at Copse as they spent half a lap alongside each other before Vettel finally forced Alonso to concede. It was a battle that no one wanted to end and proved why they have six championships between them, even if it was only all over fifth place.