A truly undramatic afternoon at Silverstone saw Lewis Hamilton claim his third straight win in Britain and his fourth overall. It also saw him close the gap on his teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the World Drivers Championship to just one point. So, despite it being a boring afternoon’s racing, what did we learn from our annual trip to the former RAF base?
When everything goes right, Hamilton is unbeatable
When the best driver in the best car has the best weekend imaginable, there is not a lot you can do to beat him. Apart from when his first qualifying time was deleted, and a slight mishap at turn 1 halfway through the race, Lewis Hamilton looked a man at one with himself and the car. The three time World Champion had a trouble free afternoon, managing the gap to his teammate and to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. As he crossed the line for his third straight win in Northamptonshire, the adoring British crowd to a man were on their feet. British motor sport should embrace Hamilton for the sheer brilliant driver that he is. Furthermore, at the end of the race, Hamilton ran out onto the grass near Club and waved to all those who packed into the grandstands. His crowd surfing wasn’t bad, either. After an extremely difficult start to the season, the British driver seems to now be on a roll that propelled him to last year’s title. Hamilton remains the man to dethrone this season.
The team radio restrictions are rubbish
Nico Rosberg actually crossed the line second with Max Verstappen coming home third for Red Bull. However, during the race, seventh gear failed for the World Championship leader, which saw his Mercedes engineer tell him to “drive chassis default 1” and to “avoid seventh gear.” The new team radio regulations that were introduced in 2016 brought a clamp down on the amount the team can tell the driver, unless not telling him would mean an imminent failure of the car. Despite Rosberg’s and Mercedes’ protests, the stewards (after five hours of deliberation!!) determined that the data on the car showed that the car would not have failed, thus was a breach of the regulations. Rosberg was given a 10 second time penalty, and demoted to third, cutting his lead in the championship to just a single point. This is the second time in as many races Rosberg has been penalised by the stewards, but this one was very undeserved. The radio regulations were brought in to stop teams from coaching drivers, i.e. telling them where to brake, how much time they are losing etc. Drivers should not be penalised for having something breaking on their car which could be solved by the team telling them how to fix it. Lewis Hamilton would have suffered the same fate in Azerbaijan if the team had told him what his problems were, which means fans are deprived of seeing top wheel to wheel racing. It makes no sense, and the regulations must be changed to allow teams to tell drivers how to fix their car if they can do so.
Ferrari go missing again
Remember at the end of winter testing when it looked like Ferrari had closed the gap to Mercedes? Well, for what feels like the 10th race in a row, the Prancing Horse has failed to deliver. There was hope around the paddock that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had cars that would challenge the dominance of Mercedes over the last two years, but in qualifying they were nearly a second off the pace and in the race they fell back at a rate of knots. It didn’t help the cause that Vettel was given another grid penalty for changing his gearbox, the second consecutive race that has happened for the German, but he should have had more than enough to get by the cars ahead of him. He finished 10th after a penalty for hitting Felipe Massa. Raikkonen this weekend was signed on for another year at the Maranello outfit, but yet again proved that he has not got the pace he once did that saw him win the World Title with Ferrari in 2007. Ferrari aren’t even the second fastest car on the gird anymore despite the “upgrades” they have brought. It’s turning out to be another disappointing season for the Italians.
Verstappen’s stock continues to rise
Another race weekend, another article which praises Max Verstappen. Not since Hamilton’s burst onto the scene in 2007 has Formula One seen a youngster make his mark on the sport like this. Moving into the Red Bull car in Spain, he won his debut race for the team, and after three difficult Grand Prix, has secured back-to-back second places in Austria and now Great Britain. Furthermore, his move around the outside of Nico Rosberg at Becketts on ap 16 to take second place from the German was probably the only noteworthy moment of the race. It was an audacious move, especially for someone so young, but it deservedly brought the crowd to their feet, and further showed how much talent the Dutchman has. Red Bull needed to move him to the senior team to keep the brightest star in F1 in their ranks, and it’s not a question of if, but when, Verstappen will win a Drivers Championship.
The British crowd should not sink so low
Last weekend, Lewis Hamilton was booed on the podium by the Austrian fans because the local trackside commentators blamed him for the crash with Nico Rosberg on the final lap. Of course, replays showed that it was the German’s failure to turn in which caused the accident, which the stewards also agreed with. Today, Rosberg was booed on the podium for nothing. He did not run anyone off the road, he did not say or do anything wrong, he was just booed by a minority of the fans at Silverstone. No matter what you think of the driver, they should not be booed on the podium. They have worked so hard to get there regardless of what has happened previously. It has happened a few times in the past, notably Sebastian Vettel in Singapore in 2013, and Hamilton again in Italy in 2015. Booing on the podium is starting to creep in more and more in Formula 1, and it must be stamped out. The British fans in particular, revered for their knowledge and passion, should know better.