An Explosive British Grand PrixMonday, July 1, 2013 11:18 by James Harris
Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw a lot of action thanks to more controversy surrounding Pirelli. With four full tyre explosions over the course of the weekend – three of them within 15 laps of each other during the actual race – the safety car came into play, drastically changing the strategies and over all outcome of the race.
Friday’s damp conditions during practise saw the Mercedes clocking the fastest times. Lewis Hamilton looked to secure his second home win, and as the Silver Arrows usually qualify really well, the fans had much to look forward to come qualifying.
Qualifying itself took place under clear skies. Unsurprisingly, the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg nabbed top spot before Englishman Hamilton stole it away, leaving both Mercedes on top.
Down at the Scuderia, the Ferrari crew all wore worried expressions, as Filipe Massa and Alonso looked scruffy on track. Massa managed 14th and Alonso 15th, Ferrari just making the cut.
Good news for Lotus with both drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean managing to take the second row. This will be a relief as their previous races saw their performance take a dive compared to their start to the season.
Pleasing the home ground further, Brit Jenson Button made it through to the second part of qualifying, as did Paul di Resta.
All eyes were on Ferrari in the second part of qualifying. Alonso answered by making fourth, and despite dropped down the time sheet, he set a time good enough for eighth. Massa wasn’t so lucky and struggled in 12th, meaning he wouldn’t make Q3. President Luca Montezemolo will be looking for heads after this weekend.
Q2 once again saw the Silver Arrows shine.
Daniel Ricciardo managed fifth in his Torro Rosso, an amazing effort from the Australian, no doubt spurred on by the potential drive in the Red Bull big brother car after Mark Webber’s announcement of leaving F1 at the end of the season.
McLaren’s season looked bleak as both cars failed to make Q3. This is one of the worse seasons for the British team in quite a few seasons – from past experience, they usually manage to turn it around with great results.
Grosjean drove a stormer and beat his Lotus teammate Kimi, and Webber managed to beat teammate Vettel for the first time this season.
Although Alonso didn’t look anywhere, he eventually managed a respectable sixth, but as we all know, Ferrari perform netter in race trim.
No surprises at the chequered flag — Hamilton excited crowds with a late pole with his teammate Rosberg in second.
With the race underway, Hamilton, Massa and Vettel made a great start, with the Red Bull gliding past Rosberg.
On the first lap Webber suffered front-end damage and dropped to 15th whilst Massa made great progress up to fifth.
On lap eight, homeboy hero Hamilton suffered the first tyre blow out and trundled to the pits. Three laps on and Massa experienced the same failure at the same point of the track as Hamilton. This raised many questions in the commentary box concerning Pirelli.
Unbelievably, another few laps on and Jean-Eric Vergne’s rear tyre exploded, and luckily for him, it took place near the pit lane, enabling him to quickly change his tyre. Due to the debris on track and the flurry of accidents, the safety car came out whilst marshals cleared the track.
By lap 21 the race was underway again with Vettel leading Nico Rosberg. Adrian Sutil, Alonso and Raikkonen trailed in third, forth and fifth.
As the race stabilised it was clear Hamilton’s tyres had taken a hammering from his efforts in passing Paul Di Resta, as first Raikkonen and then Alonso glided past, with Webber eventually taking him too – the question: “Why aren’t the McLaren pit crew responding?” was bought up in the commentary box.
On Lap 37 the battle of the Brits heated up as Hamilton nearly rear-ended di Resta at Copse Corner.
Just as the crowd regained its breath after the exciting duel, world champion Vettel suddenly lost power and retired from the grand prix. Due to gearbox failure he didn’t manage to park up in a safe spot and the safety car came out. This created a flurry of activity in the pit lane and Massa di Resta and Grosjean came in for a tyre change.
Most of the leaders also jumped on the opportunity; however Lotus left Raikkonen out on track. Quite rightly, he questioned the decision during the subsequent laps and only received an unintelligible answer. The timing of this misjudged call couldn’t be worse for Lotus as Kimi is being seriously considered by Red Bull to take Webber’s seat next season.
After the final round of pit stops and being on fresh rubber, Webber, Alonso and Hamilton all managed to pick off the Iceman, all hunting next man up the road, Rosberg.
Worse was yet to come for the Finn as Hamilton took him on lap 51 – Lotus must be kicking themselves for not bringing him in for fresh rubber.
Meanwhile Webber was catching Rosberg for the lead with Alonso in third and Hamilton forth.
Rosberg managed to fend off the Australian for the win, and despite Hamilton looking racy over the remaining laps, Alonso took the final podium place – this came as a pleasant surprise as a strong showing at Silverstone looked unlikely for Ferrari. Massa also finished well in sixth, giving the Scuderia some much-needed points in catching the Red Bulls for the constructors’ title.
Vettel’s DNF allowed Alonso to reduce his deficit to 21 points, with Hamilton a further 21 points back from him in forth. Third-placed Raikkonen also managed to close his gap, giving life back the drivers’ title.
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
2. Mark Webber – Red Bull Racing
3. Fernando Alonso – Scuderia Ferrari
4. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
5. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus F1 Team
6. Felipe Massa – Scuderia Ferrari
7. Adrian Sutil – Force India
8. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso
9. Paul di Resta – Force India
10. Nico Hulkenberg – Sauber F1 Team