Sebastian Vettel's red letter day and other takeaways from the British Grand Prix

David Cooper - Writer 18:53 08/07/2018
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German Sebastian Vettel won Sunday’s British Grand Prix to thwart home favourite Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of sealing a sixth title at Silverstone.

Hamilton started from pole but dropped down the field after a collision, the Mercedes man eventually finishing 2.2sec behind Vettel with the second Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, rounding out the podium.

The victory extended Vettel’s lead in the drivers’ championship to 171 points, with Hamilton on 163.

Here’s our main takeaways from Silverstone.

Vettel’s red letter day

The championship leader secured his fourth win of the season – and first in Silverstone since 2009.

Starting second on the grid, Vettel benefitted from Hamilton’s slow start to stay ahead until the final laps of the race.

It looked like the German would enjoy a facile afternoon, but two safety cars saw him slip to second briefly before he overtook Valtteri Bottas to clinch victory late on.

We may only be ten races through the season, but Vettel – leading by eight points – will not want a repeat of 2017 when he lost his firm grip on the title after the summer break.

The 31-year-old remains in control of the title race and needs to stay composed for the remaining races. If can do this then expect him to win a fifth world title.

Stunning recovery from Hamilton

What a recovery drive from Hamilton. Starting on pole, the Briton had a slow start and went from first to third within the first two corners. As he approached turn three, Kimi Raikkonen clipped him and he fell down the pecking order to 18th. As disappointed as the home fans would have been at the time, his fightback was fun to watch.

The reigning world champion clawed his way back to 14th within a matter of laps and continued to fight through the field. Two safety cars allowed Hamilton to reel in the lead and he was toe-to-toe with Vettel in the final laps.

Although he may have been disappointed not to secure a sixth win at Silverstone, it was still a spectacular afternoon for the 33-year-old to go from the back of the grid and end up finishing second.

With 11 races to go this season, it heats up the title race even more as we approach the German GP in two weeks’ time.

Mercedes strategy error (again)

Mercedes decision not to bring Bottas to pit under the safety car cost another podium place for one of their drivers. The team should have opted to pit the Finn under the first safety car and this would have guaranteed a facile second place.

However, for another week, the team kept him out and he subsequently surrendered the lead on lap 47 with his tyres wearing. As a result, he slipped down the order in the final five laps and finished fourth.

While the decision proved correct for Hamilton, it was another oversight on Mercedes’ part plus another strategy error which will no doubt raise more questions about those behind the scenes.

No consistency in penalties

Raikkonen’s 10-second penalty for his collision with Hamilton on the first lap again raised the question about the consistency of penalties in the sport.

Two weeks ago in Austria, Vettel only received a five-second penalty for taking out Bottas on the first lap. Of course, both cars were heavily damaged in that incident and returned from the pits in 17th and 18th, where as Raikkonen stayed damage free in P4 and Hamilton lost 25 seconds with minor damage. But if drivers like Vettel are getting off lightly it shows a lack of consistency from the stewards when incidents do occur.

It is impossible for accidents not to happen but a rule needs to be imposed by the FIA whereby the punishment is based on precedent.

Sauber struggle

It was a disappointing day for the Swiss outfit with both drivers forced to retire – their first double retirement since Monaco in 2017.

Marcus Ericsson, who was sitting in the points at the time, spun around at 190mph before hitting into the wall. A safety car was deployed and luckily the Swede walked free after his crash.

Charles Leclerc meanwhile was forced to retire on lap 20 due to a suspected loose wheel following a pitstop. The Monaco man was also in the points at the time, and it brings an end to his stunning run of five top-10s in six races.

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