Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 10. heinäkuuta 2016

British GP: Win for Hamilton, possible team radio breach for Rosberg!

I made it home right before the race was about to start. Showery rain had made the track significantly wet, which forced the stewards to make the only right decision safety wise; the race was started behind safety car. Of course it killed all the excitement, but luckily a dry line started to form already after a few laps. Due to wet conditions everyone started to the race on the blue-marked full-wet tyres. Luckily there was no more rain, and the safety car came in on lap 5.

Hamilton was leading the race with his teammate Rosberg second. The Mercedes drivers were followed by the Red Bull duo -Verstappen 3rd and teammate Ricciardo 4th. Many others -including Kimi at the wheel of his SF16-H- pitted right away for a fresh set of intermediate tyres. A lap later Red Bull´s Verstappen also pitted for a similar tyre choice. At the same time Manor´s Wehrlein ended up aquaplaning and span off the track; the German rookie got stuck in the gravel and virtual safety car was deployed. Now both Mercedes drivers also pitted for the intermediate tyres.

After the pit stop roulette Hamilton was leading the race by a 5-second gap over his teammate. Verstappen was able to match Mercedes´ pace surprisingly well, and the Dutchman was in P3. Force India´s Perez had benefitted the most during the pit stops, as the Mexican was now driving in P4. Ricciardo in his RB12 was 5th and Kimi in his Ferrari 6th. The track conditions were still very slippery, especially around Turn 1. On lap 14 Kimi went wide in that specific corner and drove off track quite a while before being able to rejoin the track.

Sebastian in his Margherita was the first man to pit for slicks -a fresh set of medium tyres. At the same time Verstappen had closed the gap to Rosberg, and these two were having a thrilling battle for P2. Rosberg made a small mistake, and Verstappen stroke right away; the flying Dutchman made a staggering overtaking move and got past Rosberg! What an outstanding and cool-headed move from this super fast teenager!

By lap 19 all top drivers had pitted for white-marked medium tyres. Sebastian was really struggling with his Margherita; the German had a 360-degree spin, which cost him positions. P12 definitely wasn´t what I had had in mind for my hero before the race! Many drivers faced drama on the slicks; Verstappen went off track as well, but luckily the Red Bull ace didn´t lose his P2. He was now 7 seconds down on the race leader Hamilton. Kimi had another off in Turn 1, which meant losing the 6th position to Toro Rosso´s Sainz. Although only a couple of laps later it was Sainz, who span off track, and the Iceman was able to snatch P6 back from the Spaniard. Also Hamilton in the lead had his moment of scare; the Briton, too went wide in Turn 1, and suddenly there was only a 4-second gap to Red Bull´s Verstappen.

Right after the halfway point of the race Rosberg had chased down Verstappen, and the German was already within DRS distance from the Dutchman. It was absolutely hair-raising to watch, how Max did absolutely everything the rules allowed him to do to defend his position. Some eight laps later, however,  there was nothing the Red Bull teenager could do to prevent Rosberg from taking P2 from him. After the overtaking move Rosberg immediately started opening a gap to Verstappen.

At the same time Sebastian was fighting with Williams´ Massa for modest P9. Sebastian made a move on the Brazilian, but went wide while passing him. This forced also Massa off track, which he loudly complained about on the team radio only a moment later. Only a few laps later the stewards gave Sebastian a 5-second time penalty for forcing Massa off track. I found it quite unfair, as Sebastian had no intension to do so; it happened only because Sebastian himself ended up going wide. This definitely wasn´t Sebastian´s day! In addition to the penalty Ferrari seemed to lack pace badly in the mixed conditions.

With 10 laps to go, Kimi had closed the gap to Perez. The Iceman was already within DRS distance from the Mexican. Perez kept looking at his mirrors -seeing  how the "red danger" kept coming closer and closer. Five laps before the chequered flag it finally happened -Kimi made a classy overtaking move on the Force India pilot and moved 5th! Kimi was driving a consistent and strong race, but unfortunately there was nothing Ferrari could do today to challenge the Red Bull drivers, not to mention the Mercedes duo.

On the closing laps Rosberg complained about a gearbox issue on the team radio. The German told the team that his 7th gear had failed and he asked for instructions what to do about the problem. I was quite surprised to hear how detailed instructions the team gave to him. Was it allowed to do so? I mean earlier this season it wasn´t allowed for Force India to warn Perez about a probable brake failure. And the team wasn´t allowed to tell Hamilton, how to change his engine setting. How was this a different case with Rosberg´s gearbox? Verstappen had got extremely close to Rosberg, but once Rosberg got help, how to deal with the gearbox problem, there was no chance for Max to get past the Mercedes pilot. However, soon after the team radio messages, the race control informed that the issue was to be taken into investigation by the stewards after the race.

Nothing could stop Hamilton from taking his 3rd consecutive win on his home soil. Rosberg finished 2nd and Verstappen 3rd. Ricciardo took 4th and Kimi 5th. Red Bull has improved a lot over the cause of this season, and they are now seriously challenging Ferrari for the second place in the constructors´ standings! Especially Max has definitely "given the RB12 wings"! Force India´s Perez finished 6th, teammate Hulkenberg 7th, Sainz 8th, Sebastian finally 9th and Kvyat 10th. I was so so happy for Max, but a bit gutted for Sebastian, who had so many setbacks in this race. Ferrari has some home work to do before going to Hungary in a fortnight. I know Ferrari will bounce back -sooner or later!

Now there´re only 4 points separating the Mercedes teammates in the world championship standings -in favour of Rosberg. Kimi is now third, Ricciardo fourth and Sebastian fifth. Red Bull is slowly but surely closing the gap to Ferrari in the constructors´ standings...

P.S. I´ve just read in the news, that Rosberg has been given a 10-second time penalty due to the team radio breach! Hence Rosberg has lost his second place to Verstappen, and his lead in the championship standings has just shrunk into just one point! What a thrilling starting point for the Hungarian GP weekend!

P.P.S. My thoughts on the British GP weekend can be read also on the website of Scuderia Ferrari Club Riga:

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