British GP 2018
JULY 8, 2018
Race Analysis - A Battle Royale
By Dan Knutson in Silverstone
The British Grand Prix turned into a Battle Royale between Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen plus Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. The fight ended with Vettel taking the fourth victory of the season ahead of championship rival Hamilton. Here's how Vettel won.
Hamilton put in a lap record to win his fourth consecutive pole and sixth overall for the British Grand Prix.
Vettel lined up with Hamilton on the front row. Raikkonen, Bottas, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) rounded out the top six on the grid.
The power deficit that the Renault has to the Mercedes and Ferrari meant that the Red Bulls were not going to be in contention for the podium.
BAD START GOOD START
Vettel made a good start in the 52-lap race while Hamilton made a bad start and dropped back. "I just had a poor getaway," Hamilton said. "Just got wheelspin and lost ground to the others and then just got a tap from behind and that was that."
The tap came from Raikkonen who tipped Hamilton into a slide. Race officials gave Raikkonen a 10-second penalty.
"It was my mistake," Raikkonen admitted. "So that's fine. I deserve it and took the 10 seconds and kept fighting. That's how it goes."
FRONT TO BACK
The way it went for Hamilton was that he went from the front of the pack back to 17th in a matter of seconds.
Vettel streaked away in the lead.
The early order of the race was Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Ricciardo. Vettel pitted for tires at the end of lap 20. Bottas led a lap and then made his stop.
NEVER GIVE UP
It never entered Hamilton's mind to give up. Furthermore, he was still determined to try and win the race.
Hamilton was flying. By lap 14 he was up to fifth place.
"You are the fastest man on the track," his engineer radioed.
Raikkonen and Hamilton also made their pit stops. Hamilton was to third at the time. Like Bottas and Vettel, the two drivers switched from Pirelli's soft compound to the medium compound slicks.
CRASH 1 SAFETY CAR 1
Marcus Ericsson crashed on lap 31 and that brought out the Safety Car. The two Ferrari drivers dived into the pits for sets of fresh soft-compound tires. Verstappen did the same. Ricciardo had pitted several laps earlier.
Mercedes left its two drivers out on their aging medium tires. So Bottas took the lead on lap 34. Vettel was second and Hamilton third.
WAS IT RIGHT
Was it the right strategy for Mercedes to tell its drivers to not stop for softs?
"He (Bottas) was obviously in the lead and they believed that perhaps he would be able to hold on," Hamilton said. "For me, the guys pitted in front of me, that was an opportunity for me to get up into third. I think it was the right decision. If I'd followed them in I would have come out behind them, we'd have equal tires and I would have struggle to get by them and most certainly wouldn't have been second. These guys (the Ferraris) would have pulled away. So, I think it was 100 percent the right decision, particularly on my car."
CRASH 2 SAFETY CAR 2
No sooner had the Safety Car come in then it went back out again after Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean tangled. This time, however, nobody stopped for tires.
Vettel used his new tires to hunt down leader Bottas. They staged an intense duel and then Vettel passed him on lap 47.
"I had the advantage on the tires but he had the clean air," Vettel said. "So, in the high-speed stuff I was able to follow, but it was difficult the closer I got. I sort of sniffed my chance already and the first laps after the restart out of Turn 4 and then on the Wellington Straight down to Turn 6, the final move. I was able to surprise him so I think he thought that I won't dare (go on) the inside and the braking zone was coming quite fast but I thought okay, I have to go for it."
Bottas faded back to fourth place as first Hamilton and then Raikkonen overtook him.
"With about five laps to go, the tires just could not take it anymore," Bottas said. "I tried everything to not give up the lead, but there was nothing I could do at that point to defend against the others on the fresher tires. We knew a one-stop was not going to be easy, but we decided to take the risk. Unfortunately, that stint on the medium tires was just a bit too long today."
Hamilton gave everything and was completely exhausted after finishing second.
"I pushed absolutely 100, 1000 percent," he said. "Every bit of energy I had. I didn't have anything left when I came in. People expect you to get out of the car and wave and smile and all that. I gave everything I could, I was struggling to stand."
HEAT OF THE MOMENT
In the heat of the moment, and just after the race, Hamilton was exasperated by being knocked off by Raikkonen. And Mercedes was frustrated because Vettel had also knocked Bottas aside at the start of the French Grand Prix. Tensions were running high.
But it was a mistake to think Mercedes has any real apprehensions about Ferrari tactics.
"I don't have any concerns," Hamilton said. "I don't have any problems with Kimi."
But Hamilton did question the lack of severity in the time penalties handed out to Vettel in France and Raikkonen in Britain.
EQUALING A PROFESSOR
Vettel now has 51 victories, which equals the total of Alain "The Professor" Prost.
THE POINT BEING
Vettel arrived in Silverstone with a one-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' championship and left with an eight-point lead.