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Mercedes see Silverstone success despite tyre troubles - Britain 2013 // The race cycles through several leaders before Rosberg scoops victory

Published by Christine

Mercedes teamwork at Silverstone
Credit: Daimler AG

It was a difficult race in the depths of the British countryside, and for once it wasn't because of the weather. The tyres played a massive part in what happened during the weekend, but it's also key to see how the teams reacted to the hands they were dealt. Mercedes managed to win the race despite their polesitter missing out on the victory, and it is to them we turn our attention first.

Mercedes

Driver positions - Mercedes
DriverQualifyingRace
N Rosberg2nd1st
L Hamilton1st4th

It wasn't a surprise to see Mercedes lock out the front row in qualifying for the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton used that extra edge that comes with a home crowd and surged ahead to take pole position, with Nico Rosberg settling in quite nicely in second place. During the race, Nico was bogged down off the start line, losing a place to Sebastian Vettel straight away. Hamilton, meanwhile, had some wheel spin, but as soon as he found the grip, he was off into the distance, pulling out a good lead.

The tyres weren't kind to him, as Hamilton was the first of four to suffer the exploding rubber problem. A swift delamination of the left rear forced him to tour the circuit very slowly, take an unscheduled pit stop, and return to the track at the rear of the field. He put in a storming performance to haul himself back up to fourth place. He fought right up to the finish line for that final podium place, and if there were a few more laps he may have been able to pass Alonso, but had to settle for the strong points result after the tyre disappointment on Lap 8.

Meanwhile, Rosberg was promoted thanks to his teammate's retirement and subsequent problems for Sebastian Vettel. Whilst he was lucky not to have any problems, he did have to navigate through several safety car periods, and keep his head about him to take victory, which he did with style.

What we saw today showed that Mercedes have not only retained their advantage in qualifying on Saturday but have also improved their race performance on Sundays as well. Many expected them to drop backwards once the lights went out, but they didn't, and it was sheer circumstance that took the win from one teammate and handed it to the other.

We have worked night and day this year to improve this car, solve our tyre management issues and put ourselves in a position to take the fight to our rivals. Today, we took another big step in the right direction and perhaps we have turned a corner now.

- Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Mercedes

Red Bull

Driver positions - Red Bull
DriverQualifyingRace
S Vettel3rdDNF
M Webber4th2nd

Red Bull thought they were in a strong position having both drivers line up on the second row of the grid. The Mercedes pair were practically untouchable in qualifying, so being best of the rest was as much as could be expected of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Once the race began, Vettel surged forward to leapfrog Nico Rosberg and move into second place, putting himself in the right position to benefit from Hamilton's tyre problems. Unfortunately for the defending champion, a gearbox problem brought his race to an early end, leaving him disappointedly looking for consolation from the pit wall.

Meanwhile, Webber succumbed to another of his awful Grand Prix starts, dropping from fourth on the grid to 15th in the early stages. He had to haul his way back through the field, amid concerns about tyre pressures and with front wing damage. This race, they decided to change the front wing, which enabled Webber to keep on pushing to get back into a podium position. He pushed Rosberg to the chequered flag, missing out on victory by less than a second. It was a good result for one half of the team, when there were so many unknowns throughout.

The image of Adrian Newey, head in hands before perusing a close up shot of one of Vettel's damaged tyres, will remain for a while. It is somewhat unfortunate for them that the tyres were not to be their downfall this weekend.

Ferrari

Driver positions - Ferrari
DriverQualifyingRace
F Alonso10th3rd
F Massa12th6th

After qualifying on Saturday, it was easy to see the Ferrari team's heads drop. Felipe Massa had already suffered a crash and several spins during practice, and the Brazilian found himself missing out on the top ten shootout by qualifying 12th. Fernando Alonso scraped into Q3, but could do no better than tenth place. The Spaniard urged his team not to panic, saying "We have to stay calm more than ever now things are not going well, just like when things are going well we don't have to get over-excited."

It was exactly the right attitude to have, as things turned completely around in the race. Massa suffered from exploding tyre syndrome and spent some time at the back of the field but he pushed on through to return into the top ten and make his way up to sixth place. Alonso was lucky to escape with unscathed rubber, and he put in some hefty overtaking moves to retain a top ten place. A timely pit stop under the safety car meant he was in the right position to chase for the final podium position, and he held off a charging Lewis Hamilton to retain third position as the chequered flag was waved.

For a team that were unsure they could retrieve anything after a disappointing qualifying, a double points finish with one trophy to take home is absolutely a bonus. There are still a lot of question marks over what happened with the tyres, and Massa is understandably shaken by what happened. He'll need a bit of a confidence boost going into the German race, and the team will also need to make sure they figure out what halted their qualifying performance so they can start the Nürbürgring a little higher up the grid.

Lotus

Driver positions - Lotus
DriverQualifyingRace
K Räikkönen9th5th
R Grosjean8th19th

Grosjean managed to pull something out of the bag on Saturday, outqualifying his more experienced teammate for the first time this year. Unfortunately, all the hard work was undone on Sunday, when he was instructed over the radio that Kimi was faster than he... and we all know what that message means. The pair were running different setups throughout the weekend, Räikkönen with the double DRS vents open, Grosjean with them still closed off, but it seemed as though there wasn't an awful lot to choose between the pair in terms of times.

Grosjean had an issue with the front wing on his car, and the team brought him into the garage apparently for "safety considerations" although the retirement coming on the final lap of the race makes that a little less believable. Meanwhile, Räikkönen was putting in a strong performance to finish on the podium until the final safety car period.

Those around him came in for a pit stop, whilst Kimi didn't, and he was immediately on the radio wondering why that hadn't happened. The team weren't sure but told him it was too late and they'd just have to get on with it. The Finn did try, but the pace wasn't there at the end and he was passed by several drivers on fresher tyres than he was. In the end, fifth place was a very good result, although it could have been better had the strategy been adapted as the race unfolded. Räikkönen did notch up his 25th consecutive points finish, though, which is a new record. Not that he cares about that kind of stuff.

We weren't affected by the tyres issues that we have seen today but warned our drivers to stay clear of the kerb at Turn 4 as there was a suspicion it might be the cause. Despite not being as good as it could have been, it was a better weekend for us than the last two.

- Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director, Lotus F1

Force India

Driver positions - Force India
DriverQualifyingRace
P Di Resta5th9th
A Sutil7th7th

We were all waiting for the explosion coming from the Force India garage when Paul di Resta finally aired his thoughts about being excluded from qualifying. But they didn't come. For the third race in a row, Di Resta has ended up out of position on the grid, and this time it came after a superb qualifying performance would have seen him fifth. Instead, he was forced to the back of the field after his car (or Paul himself) was found to be underweight. Rather than complain bitterly, Di Resta took it on the chin and made a huge effort to move through the field. He kept on creeping forwards as the race unfolded, slowly and steadily making up positions. When the chequered flag fell, he was in the points, taking ninth place, a very impressive recovery.

Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil had qualified seventh, and started one place further up thanks to his teammate's misfortunes. The German started the race well and was keeping with the front runners surprisingly successfully, at one point finding himself in a podium position. Unfortunately, amongst all the chaos, and with strategy and safety cars having a huge impact, he gradually dropped backwards, finishing the race in seventh.

A double points finish for Force India is a successful weekend, and as it is their third in a row, it shows some really consistent racing. If only they could get their Saturday strategy (and weights) sorted out, there could be some really strong results in the future for both drivers.

Toro Rosso

Driver positions - Toro Rosso
DriverQualifyingRace
JE Vergne13thDNF
D Ricciardo6th8th

There's been a lot of attention on Toro Rosso this weekend, as both drivers are being put into the frame for the soon-to-be-vacated seat at sister team Red Bull. Whether either of them are actually under consideration, we don't know, but there's never been a better time to put in a good performance. Both cars were showing some good speed during the practice sessions, particularly in the mixed conditions. Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest driver in FP1, which was a washout and meant nothing in terms of times, but made for a good headline, anyway.

However, the Australian kept up the performance in qualifying, getting through to the top ten shootout and qualifying sixth. That meant a fifth place grid slot after Paul di Resta's exclusion, and a really good shot at some serious points. He battled through the race, and got to the end relatively unscathed, which in itself is an achievement, and eighth place was the reward. It's not the result Ricciardo was looking for but is still another couple of points on the board.

That's more than can be said for poor Jean-Éric Vergne who found himself a significant casualty of the tyre troubles. Where those before him had managed to pit for fresh rubber and continue onwards, Vergne had the tyre explode behind him forcing him into the pit lane, and then he was pushed into the garage race over. There were some promising signs for the Toro Rosso team at Silverstone, but thanks to their own issues and some outside their control, the inconsistent performance this season continues.

On the positive side, we can be pleased that in performance terms, the car has clearly continued to improve and now we only have a few days to wait before we can try and turn that improvement into a more significant number of points at the Nurburgring.

- Franz Tost, Team Principal, Toro Rosso

Sauber

Driver positions - Sauber
DriverQualifyingRace
N Hülkenberg15th10th
E Gutiérrez18th14th

Sauber have been having a pretty rubbish time of it so far in 2013, and after qualifying in Silverstone, this weekend didn't look like it held anything better for the Swiss team. Esteban Gutiérrez continues to "do all his learning in public" and he was knocked out in the first session, qualifying 18th. Nico Hülkenberg fared a little better, but was nowhere near the top ten, settling firmly in the midfield.

The team were quiet going into the race itself, with both drivers worried that the car was difficult to drive and not suiting the Silverstone track at all. However, things turned around a little in the race. Firstly, neither driver suffered from the tyre blowouts that plagued some of the others, ut they did have a slow puncture on Nico's car and some significant wear on Esteban's that forced them to change strategy. Gutiérrez still complained about finding the car difficult to handle, but he improved to 14th place.

Hülk pushed forward to tenth, taking a much needed point to lift the team's spirits. It's his first points finish since the Chinese Grand Prix, a long awaited return into the top ten for the German. Unfortunately, Sauber still aren't as competitive as they would like, and certainly not delivering on the promise they showed last year, but this result could see them back on the right course again.

Williams

Driver positions - Williams
DriverQualifyingRace
P Maldonado16th11th
V Bottas17th12th

Williams may have hoped for a more exciting race to celebrate their 600th Grand Prix, but as it happens, keeping your nose clean and staying out of trouble was a tough ask in this race - and something the team did very well. Qualifying was a disappointment, particularly for Valtteri Bottas who couldn't make it out of the first session. Pastor Maldonado did make it through to Q2, but didn't make any headway in the session, finishing up 16th.

Both drivers thought they were a little unlucky on Saturday, and they continued to agree with each other after the race as well, both suggesting it was a difficult afternoon on track. They lost a little time in the pits with Bottas, and Maldonado bemoans colliding with Nico Hülkenberg a little, but otherwise it was a clean enough race. They missed out on the top ten by mere inches, which will be disappointing, but is perhaps something to take heart from considering the topsy-turvey season they are having.

It was a tough race but both drivers did a good job for us today and deserved some points. Valtteri did well to overtake Button on the last lap for P12, and Pastor almost finished inside the top ten but lost two positions at the second safety car restart. Bothe drivers managed their tyres well and overall made up a number of places from where they started on the grid.

- Mike Coughlan, Technical Director, Williams

McLaren

Driver positions - McLaren
DriverQualifyingRace
J Button11th13th
S Pérez14th20th

It wasn't a massive surprise to see both McLaren drivers dropping out in the second session of qualifying, although naturally a big disappointment for Jenson Button at his home race. Promoted into the tenth grid slot thanks to Paul di Resta's relegation, Button found himself running near his teammate once the race began. Sergio Pérez actually managed to find a way past Button, but it was all for nothing as the Mexican suffered the tyre blowout we saw on three other drivers. The damage to the McLaren was great, and he was forced to retire, although had completed enough of the race to be classified.

Button was running reasonably well through the first stints, but found it difficult to get the tyres up to temperature after the safety car stints. He labelled himself a "sitting duck" towards the end of the race, as he gradually dropped down out of the points and finished up 13th. It's not the weekend the team would have wanted in front of the home crowd, and their Saturday performance will need to be improved, but for Button to come away from the weekend calling the pace "not bad", they are already a step ahead of where they were in Canada.

Caterham

Driver positions - Caterham
DriverQualifyingRace
C Pic19th15th
G Van der Garde21st18th

Giedo van der Garde ran a pretty quiet practice and qualifying, knowing that he would be dropping a five place grid penalty anyway, so would be effectively last. There was a brief silver lining when Di Resta was pushed behind him, but then the Dutchman took a gearbox penalty as well. In the race, he found himself out of sorts with the safety car on both occasions - stopping just before it came out, and missing out on the opportunity of pitting under safety car conditions.

Meanwhile, Charles Pic was having a better weekend, he was battling with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at one point, and although he finished behind the other runners, he was the lead driver of the backmarker battle, which is an important result. 15th is another solid finish for Caterham, even if most of it was due to the retirements of others.

Marussia

Driver positions - Marussia
DriverQualifyingRace
J Bianchi20th16th
M Chilton22nd17th

Marussia had one of the quietest weekends across the grid. Their usual qualifying performance saw them in amongst the Caterhams, and then during the race, they split the two green cars with Pic ahead and Van der Garde behind. Max Chilton calls it a weekend he "will never forget" which is presumably more to do with the atmosphere and the support of the crowd than any racing action.

It's telling that team principal John Booth is hoping they can make setup improvements ahead of the German Grand Prix that will put them right back where they have been. To put in so much effort and maintain the status quo must be disheartening, but as mentioned above, a quiet race under the conditions we saw today is a result in itself.

All content in the series Britain 2013