Race Review - British Grand Prix
Welcome to the PureF1.com race review for the British Grand Prix.
VitalF1.com and PureF1.com will be linking up throughout the season to bring you comprehensive coverage of this seasons Formula One World Championship.
With the latest news coming from VitalF1 and race analysis from PureF1, we will have every angle covered. McLarenís Rainy Day as the Sun Shines on Red Bull and Silverstone
So the rain defied expectations, stayed away and we had a dry race in Silverstone. This meant all teams were essentially venturing into the unknown in terms of strategy and how they compared to others.
Consequently, we had different teams and drivers going for alternative tyre strategies so before the race had even begun we knew tyres and strategy would play a vital role. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me tweet about how nothing quite excites me like alternative tyre strategy. This was not an exaggeration. As the drivers in the top 10 had qualified on the intermediates, they were able to choose what tyre they wanted to start on. Lewis Hamilton and pole-man Fernando Alonso notably decided to start on the harder compound tyre whilst their rivals at Red Bull, and most others on the grid, chose the soft tyre to start the race.
Anxious to not have a repeat of 2011 when Vettel overtook Mark, who was on pole, going into the first corner Fernando went defensive to retain his lead. Vettel got a bad start this year slipping behind Felipe Massa. After the race Vettel did say that the first stint and falling behind Massa and Schumacher hurt his chances of winning the race.
One of three British drivers at this weekend Paul Di Resta lost any hope of impressing in front of his home crowd just one corner into the Grand Prix. Contact with Romain Grosjeanís Lotus led to a puncture on a rear tyre. Di Resta was able to make it to the pits for a change but in doing so sustained too much damage to the floor of the car and his race was over. I am sure Paul is feeling really disappointed with what happened and I donít know whether the fact that there was no one to blame helps that or not. There was another early retirement for one of the Caterhams. Vitaly Petrovís race was over before it had even begun. The team kindly tweeted me to confirm that it was an engine failure that caused the premature retirement but they will only know more once engine suppliers Renault ďstrip down the engine and find out what happenedĒ. Itís fair to say that Renault have not had the best fortnight. Vettel and Grosjean retired due to problems with their alternators and now Petrov was unable to race.
During the first stint Alonso was able to maintain his lead to Webber, who also had a comfortable lead over Schumacher, Massa and Vettel. The latter two were all within the DRS zone to the man in front but only Massa was able to gain a place. Red Bull had to try the undercut and pit first to switch Vettel onto the harder tyre. They had to try a roll of the dice and were essentially the first team to blink. Luckily, it paid off. After Massa and Schumacher pitted they emerged behind Sebastian. Alonso stayed out longer than most, as he was on the harder tyre, but he did eventually pit and resume his place in front of Mark Webber. Hamilton didnít need to pit as soon as everyone else and so he enjoyed a brief period where he was leading the race; a real treat for the British fans!
Nevertheless, normality then resumed. Hamilton was shuffled down the pack and Alonso reclaimed the lead. It was all calm at the front, for a whileÖ
Another race, another incident involving Pastor Maldonado. Whether you love him or hate him, there can be no denying that Maldonado had been involved in far too many collisions in his F1 career and, this season particularly, has cost his Williams team a lot of points. This time round he clashed with Sergio Perez and the young Mexicanís race was ended. Looking at the collision I think it is something you would usually class as a racing incident and the stewards seem to agree by not awarding Maldonado with any grid-place penalties for the next race. However, Pastor is a driver with past form for getting involved in collisions that end othersí races. Sergio Perez was damning in his verdict on Maldonado and even said that his dangerous driving is a concern amongst most drivers. Perhaps he does have some bad feeling towards him after the incident in Monaco a few races ago but his anger was clear. Maldonado has also been given a reprimand by the stewards and it is his second one so should he get one more it will be a grid-place penalty that awaits him.
Then followed the next rounds of pit stops. Those who had started on the soft tyre were following a strategy of soft, hard, hard. Those on the hard were mainly going for hard, hard, soft. Hamilton was an exception. He went for the soft tyre for the second stint and only used it for around 8 laps. It was strange strategy from McLaren but I think they knew that they would have to try something different if they were to challenge for the win. Qualifying, albeit the conditions were different, showed they didnít really match up in terms of pace.
By the time of the second round of pit stops Mark Webber had managed to reduce some of the lead Alonso had after Mark had pitted. He needed to reduce it by approximately a further four seconds but Alonso headed in, put on his soft tyres and emerged in front of Webber. Markís Red Bull team told him to start cutting down the difference and to just be patient as Alonsoís tyres would eventually fall away from him. Mark did as he was told and amazingly managed to but down a 6-second lead in a few number of laps. He then got incredibly close, tried to use DRS but had to settle for using it to reduce the gap rather than overtaking. When the time came Mark went round the outside of Alonso for a great overtake for the lead of the British Grand Prix. I do honestly think that if there were a few more laps of the race Sebastian Vettel could have had a go at Alonso as wellÖ
Felipe Massa really impressed me during the race. He finished 4th; his best result of the season and I really hope that a podium is possible for him this season. It canít be easy for any driver to hear the rumours surrounding your future and hearing other drivers talk about the possibility of them having your seat next year. Despite what many say Massa is a good racing driver and he can overtake. His priority now must be to focus on Qualifying. Should he sort that out, Iím sure podiums await!
The race was really disappointing for the Brits on the grid. Paul had a DNF and McLarenís Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished 8th and 10th respectively. Clearly, this means that the car was just not up to it and, for once, it wasnít a problem with Buttonís balance and set-up. The issue didnít even seem to come from high tyre degradation, something Jenson had struggled with, and they were equal with other teams on making tyres last. McLaren did have upgrades for this race but Ferrari and Red Bull were still just out of reach for them. No doubt there will be some head-scratching at the MTC as the team try to pinpoint why they were so far off the pace and how they can recover some of that form in time for Hockenheim.
The British Grand Prix was a great one. Silverstone truly is one of the greatest circuits in the world, even if it doesnít traditionally throw up a lot of overtakes, and it was a pleasure to watch F1 come back to the UK. The weather forecast may have deceived us as the rain that was expected never came but all other promises were delivered. Silverstone lived up to the high standard of Formula 1 in 2012, in my opinion anyway, and itís a shame that we have to wait another year for it.
Thatís the end of my race recap and, I donít know how obvious this is, I have done it slightly differently to how I usually do. Let me know what you think about the review and the race itself and keep coming back as I have more post-race posts to add!
Author: Rick McCabe
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