British GP 2014: Grading Race on Strategy, Overtaking, Shocks and Drama
Sunday afternoon saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone to close the gap at the top on championship leader and team-mate Nico Rosberg to just four points after the German was forced to retire.
Here we grade the ninth contest of the campaign from A to D in terms of strategy, overtaking, shocks and drama.
Was the British GP interesting for all those watching? The answer has to be an emphatic yes, after what was one of the most thrilling races of the season so far.
Everywhere you looked out on the circuit there were absorbing contests to behold throughout the 52-lap encounter, starting with the fight for first, which predictably involved the Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton as the latter created history by winning from sixth on the grid.
Meanwhile, we had an eye-catching battle for third place toward the end between Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull and McLaren’s Jenson Button, as the Briton tried—and failed—to secure what would have been an all-too-rare podium finish at his home grand prix.
That meant that the Australian’s decision to go with a one-stop strategy, having started the race down in eighth position, paid off handsomely.
However, the undoubted highlight from Silverstone was the sensational ongoing duel for fifth between Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and world champion Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
Where to start? A circuit that we had been led to believe would prohibit many overtaking moves in actual fact produced a plethora of memorable passing manoeuvres on Sunday.
There was the sight right from the very off, as Hamilton moved up from sixth to fourth within the first four corners of the opening lap. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was even more impressive; the Finn sliced up the field in front of him to finish as runner-up behind the Briton, having started the race all the way down in 14th on the grid.
Elsewhere, Ricciardo in the Red Bull also caught the eye after jumping up from eighth to third. However, the most absorbing battle of the day involved Alonso and Vettel—two drivers with six drivers’ championships between them.
The experienced duo fought ferociously for fifth spot for a whole 15 laps at Silverstone, with neither prepared to give an inch and both complaining vociferously over the radio about the other’s apparent illegal tactics.
In the end, however, it was the German who got the better of the Spaniard, although it should also be noted that Alonso had managed to fight his way up from a lowly 16th position thanks to a series of outstanding overtaking manoeuvres himself.
OK, championship leader Rosberg did manage to maintain the recent trend at Silverstone, whereby the pole sitter rarely wins the race—only three drivers since 2000 have claimed victory at the British GP having started from the front of the grid.
However, it was a big surprise that the German’s Mercedes team-mate, Hamilton, took the chequered flag after only managing sixth place in qualifying on Saturday.
In fact, there were a number of shocks throughout the day, especially the podium finishes secured by both Bottas and Ricciardo after they had begun the race down in 14th and eighth positions respectively.
Sensational drive from 14th on the grid by Bottas to P2. Near miss for JB for first podium, 0.8secs behind Ricc at finish— Kevin Eason (@easonF1) July 6, 2014
Unlike the last race in Austria, the British GP was packed full of drama right from the opening lap at Silverstone, as the contest was initially red flagged and suspended following a nasty-looking crash involving Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
The experienced Finn went off at Turn 4 and spun as he rejoined the circuit, before heavily colliding with a barrier. Felipe Massa in the Williams—driving in his 200th grand prix—then made contact with the Scuderia after it had been propelled back on to the track.
That incident meant a one-hour delay while the barrier in question was repaired and made safe again, with the race itself then restarting behind the safety car as Raikkonen received treatment for bruising to his ankles.
However, the most important incident of the whole grand prix—at least as far as the outcome of this season's drivers' title is concerned—occurred on lap 29, when race leader Rosberg was forced to retire for the first time this campaign with a gearbox failure. The German ultimately saw his advantage at the top over team-mate Hamilton cut to just four points.
What a sensational ninth race of the 2014 F1 season we witnessed at Silverstone on Sunday afternoon, with the crowd packed in to watch the British GP treated to just about everything they could have hoped for.
Lewis Hamilton becomes the first British driver since Stirling Moss in 1955 to win the British GP driving a Mercedes pic.twitter.com/Pm8Biipmjy— BBCF1 (@bbcf1) July 6, 2014
The GP included an action-packed start, the involvement of a safety car, spectacular crashes, overtaking moves galore, contrasting and intriguing pit-stop strategies, shocks and a surprise winner, too.
So there will be much to live up to then when we travel to Hockenheim for the German GP in a fortnight's time.
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