Home win for Hamilton extends his lead after British Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen at the 2007 British Grand Prix. Raikkonen's championship winning year, and only British GP win, during his first stint at Ferrari. Credit: Martin Pettitt

Kimi Raikkonen at the 2007 British Grand Prix.
Raikkonen’s championship winning year, and only British GP win, during his first stint at Ferrari. Credit: Martin Pettitt

LEWIS Hamilton is again trying to move away from teammate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings, back on home soil at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Only separated by 10 points after Rosberg’s win in Austria last fortnight, the pair are well clear of the rest of the pack bar Sebastian Vettel, the only other driver beyond the 100-point mark. Behind him is veteran Kimi Raikkonen, seemingly out of contention for the title and struggling to find the form that previously made him such a threat.

Next are the Williams drivers are having an even tighter tussle in the table only five point apart, with the experience of Felipe Massa being tested by the youth and aggression of Valtteri Bottas. At the other end of the table are Button and Alonso of McLaren, with three drivers world championships but only four points to rub together between them. Technical problems and collisions have robbed the men of an opportunity to race and the crowds of a spectacle on the track.

Friday’s practice was typical of this season so far, with the Mercedes and Ferrari coming out on top. Red Bull and junior team Torro Rosso showed signs of promise for the weekend too, and another great effort from 17-year old Max Verstappen who clinched a third in the warm-up. In qualifying the low-budget Manor team took the back row with McLaren’s in the next two positions, and Felipe Nasr of Sauber the only other driver going out in Q1, placed 16th.

Carlos Sainz, Jr. in 2014. 2015 is his first year in F1 and has collected 9 points so far. Credit: Willtron.

Carlos Sainz, Jr. in 2014. 2015 is his first year in F1 and has collected 9 points so far.
Credit: Willtron.

Hamilton took his eighth pole of the season with Rosberg on the front row of the grid alongside him, leaving Williams to claim the second row ahead of the two Ferraris in fifth and sixth. A good showing further back for Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), who made Q3 to take eighth and ninth respectively. Full qualifying  results here.

Sunday held the promise of rain but the weather was far from the headline of the race. Retirements were frequent and Felipe Nasr was out first with technical difficulties before the warm-up lap, followed by both Lotus’ and Jenson Button’s McLaren due to first lap collisions, prompting the safety car. Alonso took the opportunity to fix his front wing which had been damaged in the fracas, but the story at the front of the field was the Williams’ passing the Mercedes’ with a fantastic start.

Max Verstappen in Germany, 2014. He raced in free practice for Toro Rosso in the 2014 F1 season before taking a drivers seat for 2015. Credit: Stefan Brending

Max Verstappen in Germany, 2014. He raced in free practice for Toro Rosso in the 2014 F1 season before taking a driver’s seat for 2015.
Credit: Stefan Brending | License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode

The race resumed two laps later and this time it was Max Verstappen with the mistake, though he was polite enough to slide deep into the gravel trap so the race could continue uninterrupted. Williams initially looked to be playing a tactical game, asking Bottas to hold off an overtake on front-runner Massa and focus on keeping the Mercedes at bay. By the next lap though the pit crew had reassessed their situation and let their drivers start battling for the lead.

Not until the halfway point and the start of the pit stops did their order change, and after all four had gotten fresh tyres, Hamilton came out in front with the William’s chasing and his team mate in fourth. Ricardo of Red Bull suffered a loss of power to the engine just after and joined the growing number of cars back in garages, along with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. These seven DNF’s pushed Manor Racing into 12th and 13th (where they eventually finished), their best positions this season so far.

Lewis Hamilton in China in 2014. Qualified in pole position this weekend to surpass Sebastian Vettel's record of 45 career poles and put him third of all-time. Credit: Emperornie.

Lewis Hamilton in China in 2014. Qualified in pole position this weekend to surpass Sebastian Vettel’s record of 45 career poles and put him third of all-time. Credit: Emperornie.

The last drama of the race came when the rain finally arrived with 15 laps to go, and perfectly time pit stops from Hamilton and Vettel saw them both reach the podium; Lewis was ahead in 1st but Vettel couldn’t quite reach Rosberg and finished 3rd. So sparse was the field by this time that even a struggling Alonso managed to hold off the three rookie drivers behind him for his first point of the season.

The result leaves Rosberg 17 points adrift of his fellow Mercedes driver but well within his sights going into the tenth race of the season in Budapest, Hungary.