VF1blog: Chaos at Silverstone
Iím going to start this column by getting my views of the tyre fiasco witnessed at the British Grand Prix out of the way. First, I understand that Pirelli did not expect this kind of problem and it a shock to them as it was to us. However this was a huge safety concern and like the drivers said, we were lucky that no one was injured or found the barriers. Whilst it is clearly Pirelliís fault that the tyre did this, they didnít know that their changes or the track would cause this.
I also canít comment too much on the cause as Pirelli are still investigating the matter. However I find it strange that they said that they canít comment on the cause but them took the new bonding process out of the equation. It must be something to do with the changes, because these failures havenít happened in that style at the previous races.
What Pirelli need is time to understand the issues and go about solving them. We can moan all we like about the safety and ask as many questions as we like, but they need to get to the bottom of it. Changing the Young Driver Test so that race drivers can take part and moving it into a tyre test was the right move as itís important for the safety of drivers, teams and spectators. Jean Todt has also given Pirelli six days of unrestricted testing which, again, I feel is correct because teams need answers and trust that the tyres can last the laps without failing.
So overall, itís a concern but we need to be patient and let Pirelli resolve the issue. Despite it being a worrying development, the race was turned on its head and we saw some fantastic driving and racing through the field. There was plenty of fair and controlled driving which was fantastic to see and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the race where pieces of tyre were not flying into the air.
I was naturally ecstatic when Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position on Saturday after a truly stunning lap of the Silverstone circuit. I actually jumped out of my chair slightly when he crossed the line as I wasnít really expecting it Ė he had been complaining on Friday of balance issues. He started from the front on Sunday and I was hopeful that he could stay there even though I knew that the two Red Bullís would be strong.
However Webber had a truly disastrous start. I didnít actually notice it until the first replay as I was so focused on Lewis out front. He made contact with Grosjean and that damaged his front wing but he really put on a typical Webber fight through the field. Then on lap eight Hamiltonís tyre failed and I was frantically writing it into my race report. It was a huge twist in the story as he had been pulling out a strong gap. Unfortunately it came on the Wellington Straight and that meant he had a long trek back to the pits.
Just a few laps later it was Massa whoís left rear failed and as soon as I made the connection, I started to get a bit worried. However it wasnít until Jean-Eric Vergneís tyre blew a couple of laps further on that I realised this was a problem. The Frenchmanís failure came at the end of the Hangar Straight and he was traveling at over 180mph. Props to his for managing to keep control and off the racing line but I was worried for Kimi who had taken a whack in the head with some of the flying debris.
Naturally the safety car was deployed and that hugely helped the likes of Hamilton and Massa who had lost out from their tyre troubles. Vettel had regained the lead and I was hopeful that he wouldnít run away with it. By that time the majority of the cars had pitted for fresh rubber and we were back racing on lap 26, wishing that the tyres would hold on. There was some fantastic overtaking and battles during the next few laps and particularly from Webber and Hamilton who were carving their way back through the pack.
The second pit stop sequence arrived at around the 30 lap mark and by that time Vettel had eked out a small lead over Rosberg, who had a large gap to Sutil in third. The racing around that time was truly immense and drivers were giving each other a huge amount of respect. It was great to see after some rather questionable driving in the GP2 race earlier in the day and really dramatised the race.
That drama reached a new level a few laps after the pit stops after Vettel slowed with a loss of fifth gear. It was a huge turning point in the British Grand Prix story and one that had the crowd cheering as Rosberg surged ahead and into the lead. It was a shock but I canít lie and say I was disappointed, a Vettel win wasnít what I wanted so I was quietly pleased with his race exit. The safety car emerged once again which helped those on their recovery drives.
Perez then became the fourth driver to suffer a tyre failure after we all thought the phase had disappeared. It was another dramatic one and Fernando Alonso was lucky to be moving right just as it exploded. Still, he had to react quickly to steer even further clear of the debris and admitted it was a ďscaryĒ incident. That caused a bunching of the pack and we saw a number of exciting final laps with cars vying for position and battling with one another.
Despite Webber closing in towards the end, it was a beautiful win for Nico Rosberg under sunny Silverstone skies as he benefited from the problems of other drivers to take the victory. In fairness, I donít think he could have won if Hamilton and Vettel had not had their issues but it was a strong drive nonetheless. Webber really impressed me but I was not surprised. He more than made up for his terrible start and his pace towards the end was electric, a fantastic drive to second place with Alonso just pipping Hamilton for third.
The later two both had drives through the field and Hamiltonís recovery was extremely exciting. He carved his way through the field with full confidence and would have definitely won the race had he not had the tyre failure. I was so happy to see him finish highly after the troubled early stint but I was disappointed not to have a British driver on the podium.
Raikkonen was disappointed with fifth after his team failed to pit him in the final safety car period. It proved to be the wrong move and he slipped to fifth place by the chequered flag. Massa had a good run to sixth on his recovery and had a flying start that had me in awe. He went from 12th to fifth on the run to turn one with no wheel-spin and the perfect launch. Sutil finished seventh after holding third until the final restart where he went backwards. Ricciardo had a good race to eighth but I think more could have been possible. Di Resta finished ninth after a strong run through the field from his 21st start position. Hulkenberg rounded out the points finishers.
Button finished in a lowly 13th as his torrid British GP luck continues. He was behind the two Williams cars who are still yet to score a point Ė I hope they get it done very soon! Pic won the battle of the back markers but it was close and I wish we could have seen more of the battle on TV as it seemed quite feisty, likewise Chilton and van der Gardeís fight to not finish last.
I really enjoyed the British Grand Prix aside from the tyre woes. The whole weekend was so special and atmospheric and I canít wait to hopefully get there someday. The weather on Saturday and Sunday was beautiful and it looked to be the perfect race weekend with rain on Friday throwing another challenge into the mix.
Itís my favourite race on the calendar and I was so pleased to see Lewis on pole. It was a shame that Button couldnít get a good result but I was happy to see Chilton not finish last and win the rookie battle between himself and van der Garde. Not the best race for the Brits but still a fantastic show and one that has kicked up a storm in the Formula 1 paddock.
Author: Jack Leslie
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