F1 2017: British Grand Prix Race Recap

rr F1 BRI

Lewis Hamilton won the 2017 British Grand Prix from lights to flag, despite a Safety Car very early and the consistent threat of rain. He led a Mercedes 1-2, with Valtteri Bottas charging through the field to third. Bottas gained second in the final laps as Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari forced him into the pits with a left front tire issue. He finished third, with Max Verstappen fourth. Verstappen also pitted in the final moments, saving position as the Ferraris disintegrated. Daniel Ricciardo gave a masterclass on moving through the field, starting nineteenth and finishing in fifth place, going around the outside, inside, and wherever possible to make up places.

Though the race felt like it ended in chaos, multiple scraps throughout the field and throughout the race kept things interesting for an hour and a half. Toro Rosso drivers Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz came together on L1, bringing out the SC, ending Sainz’s day, and giving Kvyat a drive-through penalty. Bottas had a gorgeous scrap in the last ten laps with Vettel, who dropped to seventh after a probable fourth fell apart along with his left front tire. Despite the final failure, Vettel kept the championship lead by one point.

Results of the 2017 British Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP
1.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes
2.  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes  +14.063
3.  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  +36.570
4.  Max Verstappen  Red Bull  +52.125
5.  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull  +1:05.955
6.  Nico Hulkenberg  Renault  +1:08.199
7.  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari  +1:33.989
8.  Esteban Ocon  Force India  +1 Lap
9.  Sergio Perez  Force India  +1 Lap
10.  Felipe Massa  Williams  +1 Lap
11.  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren  +1 Lap
12.  Kevin Magnussen  Haas  +1 Lap
13.  Romain Grosjean  Haas  +1 Lap
14.  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber  +1 Lap
15.  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso  +1 Lap
16.  Lance Stroll  Williams  +1 Lap
17.  Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber  +1 Lap
 Fernando Alonso  McLaren
 Carlos Sainz  Toro Rosso
 Joylon Palmer  Renault

Hamilton (1:26.600) won pole by more than a half second over Raikkonen in typically damp Silverstone conditions. Vettel qualified third fastest, two tenths slower than his teammate. Though Bottas qualified fourth fastest, he had already received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Verstappen therefore moved up to the second row of the starting grid. Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Vandoorne, and Grosjean all participated in Q3.

Rain fell before Q1 began, leaving times dropping at an increasing rate at the end of the first session. Alonso and McLaren switched to dry tires, crossing the line a half second before the checkered flag fell. The Spaniard topped the timesheets for Q1, though he had a thirty place grid penalty for his ailing McLaren Honda. Teammate Vandoorne outqualified him for the first time this weekend. Ricciardo, also suffering a five place gearbox change penalty, managed only the slowest time before a turbo failure ended his Saturday and briefly paused the action with a red flag.

Everyone wore the dry tires by the start of Q2, while only Bottas used the soft tires to set his Q2 time. He, Massa, Stroll, Magnusses, Ericsson, and Wehrlein would all start on the softs. The rest of the field started on supersofts. Sainz had his share of problems in qualy, as suspension issues allowed him to be only fifteenth fastest.

Palmer complained of a brake by wire failure on the formation lap. He pulled to the side of the field on the Hanger Straight, also complaining of hydraulic issues. Renault told him to pull to the side and put the car in neutral. Due to Palmer’s stranded car, race control aborted the start, adding another formation lap and shortening the race by one lap.

Race Start:
Hamilton moved over on Raikkonen, leaving the Finn in the clutches of Verstappen and Vettel. The two Ferraris scrapped with Verstappen, who moved up to third and looked set of take Raikkonen until the Ferrari gained a gap. Their fighting allowed Hamilton to escape at the front. The Toro Rossos fought between themselves, but did not end happily. Sainz radioed to the team, “I’m ok. You can tell Danny he did a good job there.” Kvyat lost position to Sainz. On attempting to repass, the two collided. Sainz collected Magnussen as he spun back across the track. Kvyat made his way into the pits for a new nose.

Safety Car L2/Restart L5 of 52:
The Toro Rosso coming together brought out the SC, with Hamilton leading Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Bottas, Perez, Vandoorne, and Massa as the top ten. Wehrlein pitted for the medium tire, then pitted again for the softs.

Hamilton led the restart on L5, with a safe gap back to Raikonen. The back of the field looked to change their positions about, but did not. Ricciardo took the long way through the gravel, seemingly in an effort to go around Mangussen. He could not tell the team the status of the car after.

Meanwhile, Bottas moved up to sixth around Ocon, up three positions from his start. His teammate began worrying about tire degradation. On the harder tires, Bottas seemed to have little trouble, taking fifth from Hulkenberg at Stowe on L8. Ricciardo also made a move, taking 14th from Magnussen after his drop to eighteenth from twelfth through the gravel. The stewards announced a drive through penalty for Kvyat for “rejoining the track unsafely” in the Toro Rosso disorder.

End L10 of 52:
Hamilton continued to lead and set race fast sectors at the end of ten laps. Raikkonen, nearly three seconds behind, Verstappen, and Vettel held station as the top four, with big mover Bottas up to fifth. Hulkenberg, Ocon, Perez, Vandoorne, and Massa rounded out the top ten. Alonso sat thirteenth, Ricciardo fourteenth. The Australian soon made his way around Alonso at the end of the Hangar Straight. Alonso looked to fight back, but could not regain the position.

Though the sun shone, the clouds looked ominous. Ricciardo continued to move up in the standings, clearing Stroll for twelfth into Brooklands.

Farther upfront, Vettel caught Verstappen. The German came alongside into Stowe. They fought vigorously, pushing each other outside the white lines into and out of turns in succession, fourteen seconds behind Hamilton. Verstappen told Red Bull, “he wants to play bumper cars or something.” Thrilling stuff allowed Bottas to close to the podium fight. They settled somewhat, only for Raikkonen to report rain on L17. Kvyat confirmed, as did Magnussen.

Pit Stops Begin {L19 of 51}:
Vettel {2.9s} pitted first, dropping to sixth after stopping for soft tires. He rejoined just ahead of Ocon. On the track, Ricciardo moved up to the points, sliding under Massa at Stowe. Verstappen {3.4s} followed Vettel in, as did Ocon {3.6s} and Alonso. Alonso asked to stop after McLaren checked a time loss. “Fernando, is the lap time loss due to deg?” He responded, “Yes. I went off in Turn 15, not because I am sleeping. Box, box.” Mercedes encouraged Bottas to “get the hammer down” with the clear track ahead to Raikkonen.

Ricciardo continued to move around most of the field, up to eighth around Vandoorne. Perez pitted on L24, as did Grosjean, and Stroll. Raikkonen {2.5s} pitted, in second and nearly ten seconds behind Hamilton, on L25. So did Hulkenberg, who had a slow five second stop. Hamilton {2.3s} pitted from the lead as he began L26. He did not loose the lead to his teammate, who had yet to stop, though they were nose to tail on Hamilton’s retentry. Massa dropped to thirteenth on his first stop. Vandoorne pitted and also dropped out of the points on L27.

Halfway {end L26 of 51}:
Bottas moved up to second in the rearrangement of pitstops at halfway, though the Finn had yet to change tires. Hamilton still led, with Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo (who had not yet stopped), Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Ocon, and Perez the top ten. Mercedes told Hamilton if he could not pull away from Bottas to let him by, and they would leave them to it. He responded, “I’ll pull him along with me.”

Also on the radio, Raikkonen informed Ferrari, “there is something jumping in the cockpit. Something is loose. I don’t know what.” Ericsson pitted on L29. Meanwhile, Kvyat pitted with suspension issues, but rejoined after taking a new set of tires.

Bottas finally pitted on L33, with Ricciardo following him for fresh tires. The Finn rejoined fourth, the Australian still in the points in tenth but behind the stack up of Magnussen, Ocon, and Perez. Alonso pitted on L34, after an exchange with his engineer suggesting he had no power. He retired.

Ricciardo took the latter of the Force Indias in ninth, then the second for eighth on L35, both around the outside. Magnussen sat seventh, but had not yet pitted. At the front, Hamilton held a thirteen second gap to Raikkonen with fifteen laps to go. Bottas set a race fast lap, looking likely to fight for the podium before the race ended. Magnussen {2.2s} finally switched tires on L39. He rejoined fourteenth, moving Ricciardo up to seventh. The Australian asked, “who’s next?” when the Dane stopped. He had eleven seconds to catch Hulkenberg in more laps than that.

At the front, Hamilton complained his tires were blistered. Slow motion replays did not show particular damage to the leader’s tires.

10 Laps Remain of 51:
Hamilton’s lead looked as secure as it ever did, while Bottas closed to Vettel with ten laps to go. Raikkonen continued trundling around, safely in second. Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Ocon, Perez, and Massa all looked to score points.

Vettel went wide at Chapel, leaving room for an attack from Bottas at Stowe, only for Vettel to force the Finn wide. They looked to recreate the Vettel/Verstappen scrap from earlier. Bottas backed off for a moment, then they continued to scrap, until Bottas flew by Vettel at the Hangar Straight. Bottas set a race fast lap, setting off to fight Raikkonen. Mercedes offered congratulations, only to receive a request for “minimal talking.”

Grosjean pitted again on L45. He rejoined fourteenth, then passed Ericsson for thirteenth on the second attempt, after contact on the first attempt that required the stop.

Both Bottas and Ricciardo pushed hard in the final laps, though Bottas gained second as Raikkonen had a left front tire failure, forcing a pit stop on L49. Verstappen did as well, losing fifth in the process. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg had issues in front of Ricciardo. Vettel also had a left front issue, forcing him into the pits. He dropped to seventh, finishing the race on pit lane.

{VMR}

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