F1 GP Silverstone; Rain, Rams and Revenge
Amid speculation about the future of F1 following a series of predictable races in the last few weeks, the race that took place at Silverstone was a breath of fresh air to the sport.
Indeed, for quite some time it seemed that for once, the dominant Mercedes duo would not take the top spots on the podium as there were some strong contenders that rose up to challenge them in the form of Sir Frank Williams’ team, with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas showing off what the car could really do.
Mercedes Face Challenge from Mercedes
Last season, Williams experienced a resurgence of form with the new and powerful Mercedes turbo-charged engines. They were consistently second and sometimes even took podiums from the German team, with no other car in the field coming close.
However, this season with the further improvement of the Mercedes cars, Williams have somewhat lagged; though they are still in a much better position than they were two years ago, they have not been one of the top runners after being leapfrogged by Ferrari in terms of engine performance over the break.
However, Williams came back with a vengeance at Silverstone. Massa slid easily through the Mercedes front row straight off the bat, and stole first position away from the surprised face of Lewis Hamilton.
After a safety car incident, which ended on lap three, Hamilton was so fiercely trying to pass Massa that he did not see the danger behind him and suddenly had fallen into third place as Bottas slipped past him as well. This is an unusual position for the defending world champion to occupy, as in the last few races he has been virtually unchallenged for the lead throughout most of the race.
A Chance of Rain
For a while, it looked like there might be a new team on the podium, and the excitement was high; though everyone wanted to see Hamilton win at home once more, seeing a British team get a one-two finish would have been a fantastic consolation. However, it was not to be; sadly, the fates turned against Williams towards the end of the race.
There was a bit of speculation over team calls – some feel that if they had told Massa to let Bottas through, they could have opened up more of a lead over Hamilton as Bottas is faster.
However, as it happened, the distance didn’t matter anyway as, true to form, the British weather turned up and the rain began pouring onto the track towards the final few laps.
Williams notoriously do not run as well in the rain as Mercedes, and therefore lost a lot of time and dropped back a long way. After pitting, they came back out onto the track in fourth and fifth position behind the Ferrari of Vettel, which is where they eventually finished.
In part, this is due to the foresight of Vettel and Hamilton, both of whom pitted one lap earlier than the rest for wet-weather tyres, sensing the oncoming downpour; Rosberg and the Williams team pitted one lap later and consequently lost their chances at overtaking the Brit, who stormed his way to a third consecutive victory at home.
Further back in the field, there was disaster for two teams – McLaren and Lotus. McLaren, already in dire straits this season, suffered an unfortunate incident where Alonso spun into his teammate Button and knocked him out of the race.
Alonso was able to recover after having his front wing repaired and then, through a battle of attrition, managed to claim his first points of the season in 10th place.
Lotus also had a collision between their cars, but unfortunately for them both Grosjean and Maldonado were forced to retire from the damage.
Despite the issues at the back of the field, it was great to see some changes up front and perhaps, at the turning point of the season, finally a challenger to the Mercedes winning streak, now up to nine double podium finishes straight.
Next up is Hungary and watch out for the Williams – they’re back and have an appetite for victory.