British Grand Prix 2016: Winners and Losers from Silverstone Race
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Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth victory of the 2016 Formula One season in Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Having claimed his sixth pole position of the year in qualifying, the three-time world champion was untroubled at the front of the field in a race of changeable conditions to register his third win in as many seasons at the home of British motorsport.
Joining Hamilton on the podium were Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was rewarded with second place after one of the finest performances of his F1 career to date, and Nico Rosberg, who suffered a post-race time penalty after his Mercedes team broke the new rules concerning pit-to-car radio messages.
On a weekend where Sebastian Vettel's season went from bad to worse and Force India enjoyed a welcome return to form, here are the main winners and losers from Silverstone.
Winner: Lewis Hamilton
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They came, they saw, he conquered.
As noted ahead of the British GP weekend, there is a certain charm to Hamilton at homethat is unrivalled by any other driver on the current grid and, in truth, hasn't been seen in F1 since the days of Nigel Mansell.
There is a tangible trade of energy between the crowd and the cockpit of the No. 44 car—reminiscent of the "human heat" once described by Hamilton's idol, three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, per the Independent's Jack de Menezes—that makes victory almost inevitable.
In true Hamilton style, the local hero tried his best to make his route to success as difficult as possible in qualifying, when, after leading all three practice sessions, he exceeded track limits on his first run of Q3 and saw his time deleted.
That left him under huge pressure ahead of his last (do-or-die) lap, yet Hamilton seemed to treat it as an opportunity to showcase his talent to those in the grandstands, producing a near-faultless lap to shatter the lap record for the current configuration of the Silverstone circuit.
The heavy rain shower shortly before the start threw another curveball in the three-time world champion's direction, but Hamilton, following his victories in changeable conditionsin the 2008 and '15 races, had seen it all before and dealt with the start maturely.
With Rosberg's struggles allowing him to build a healthy early lead, Hamilton had the privilege of being able to manage both his medium-compound tyres and the gap to those behind, with only a slight wobble over the wet patch at Abbey giving him cause for concern.
Having cut Rosberg's championship lead to just one point, his message to the congregation during the FIA podium interviewsas his Mercedes team-mate stood to his right was chilling in its delivery.
"I’m catching him, so let’s keep going."
Loser: Nico Rosberg
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In the last F1 race to be affected by rain, May's Monaco GP, Rosberg made a very early decision to play it safe.
With the risk outweighing the reward, the German—nursing a 43-point lead over Hamilton at the summit of the drivers' standings—felt a fourth consecutive Monte Carlo win wasn't worth pursuing on a day he could have easily found himself scraping along the crash barriers.
Although the plan backfired spectacularly as he finished a distant seventh on a day Hamilton secured his first win of 2016, Rosberg's reasoning was perfectly understandable.
But with his advantage cut to just 11 in Austria, the British GP felt like the right time for Rosberg to stop protecting the little he had and start trying to extend his lead once more, driving with the freedom and aggression he demonstrated when he won the first four races of the season.
It was hugely disappointing, then, that when the safety car finally peeled in and the racing got under way at Silverstone, he drove just as pitifully as he did in Monaco, allowing his championship rival to disappear into distance and inviting pressure from behind.
The time he lost as a result of his conservative approach, which saw him stuck behind Verstappen, meant that when the conditions improved, the inherent pace advantage of the W07 became obvious. He cleared the Red Bull and began to reel in Hamilton but was too far behind to make a real impression on the race leader.
And then, for good measure, his gearbox developed a glitch that prevented him from using seventh gear.
The points Rosberg extracted from the British GP, when he could quite easily have retired and scored none, may yet prove to be crucial come the end of this season.
But the advice provided to him over pit-to-car radio by his race engineer, Tony Ross, was clearly in breach of the controversial 2016 radio restrictions, with a post-race time penalty dropping him from second to third.
In complete control of the title race just two months ago, Rosberg is now in danger of throwing all his hard work away.
Winner: Max Verstappen
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Was this Verstappen's most complete performance in F1 to date?
The teenager experienced arguably the worst weekend of his debut season at Silverstone in 2015, qualifying below par before throwing his Toro Rosso into the gravel trap just three laps into the race. However, he mastered one of F1's most challenging tracks this weekend.
In the buildup to the British GP, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner challenged Verstappen to improve his performances in qualifying, suggesting the Dutchman "has got a bit of work to do,"perESPN F1's Nate Saunders.
Verstappen outpaced Daniel Ricciardo, a driver who had yet to be beaten by a team-mate in one-lap conditions in 2016, by a margin of 0.305 on Saturday to qualify as the best of the rest behind the Mercedes drivers.
With Ricciardo stuck behind Sergio Perez, Verstappen very quickly became Red Bull's only hope of a strong result at Silverstone, and it was no surprise that he—with a very similar driving style to the three-time world champion—was the only driver remotely capable of matching Hamilton in greasy conditions.
That pace saw him hound an uncomfortable Rosberg in the early stages, and his typically opportunistic pass around the outside of the German at Becketts—of all places!—was the overtaking manoeuvre of the season thus far.
If there is one flaw in Verstappen's driving at this stage of his career, it is—as with most young drivers in the modern era—his habit of changing direction repeatedly whenever another driver even dares to overtake him, crossing the line between defending and being downright dangerous.
Rosberg was heard complaining about the Red Bull driver's conduct on the Hangar Straight over pit-to-car radio, but Verstappen was hard but fair when the move was eventually made at Stowe.
Elevated to second, the position his performance deserved, following Rosberg's post-race penalty, Verstappen has scored more podium finishes in the last two months than his father, Jos, did in his entire F1 career.
Loser: Sebastian Vettel
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As he adopted the fetal position in the cockpit of his SF16-H on Saturday morning, contemplating a third gearbox change in the space of a week, there was a sense that Vettel was just beginning to lose his patience with Ferrari.
A glitch at the end of the final practice session had condemned him to a second five-place grid penalty in as many races, effectively ending his chances of claiming a first victory of 2016 before the serious business had even started.
In years gone by, the four-time world champion would have channeled that frustration to surge through the field and render both the reliability issue and the accompanying penalty meaningless.
This time, however, his misfortune only served to drag him down further.
Mistakes on both of his runs in Q3—a function of "trying a bit too hard," as he toldthe team's official website, perhapsin an effort to limit the damage of his grid drop—saw him outqualified by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by a margin of 0.609 seconds, before his penalty saw him fall to 11th on the grid.
Vettel would have been among the drivers welcoming the arrival of rain before the start, yet his progress in the improving conditions was minimal, to the point where he became the first driver to gamble on dry-weather tyres at the end of Lap 15.
A spin at Abbey, by far the most treacherous part of the drying track, on one of his first laps out of the pits left Vettel unable to take advantage of Ferrari's eternally bold thinking, with the German later receiving a five-second time penalty for taking Felipe Massa wide with him at Village.
The punishment, which left him crossing the finish line in ninth, was relatively harsh given Vettel's obvious difficulties in slowing the car down for the slow right-hander in tricky conditions.
But it added insult to injury on a weekend Vettel produced his worst performance yet in Ferrari colours, and his hopes of winning the 2016 championship died along with all those dodgy gearboxes.
Winner: Force India
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Perez may have missed out on the chance to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari for 2017, but he offered yet another reason why leading teams should still keep a close eye on him at the British GP.
Following his two podium finishes in Monaco and Azerbaijan, the momentum built up by the Mexican appeared to have been blunted after qualifying at Silverstone, where—a week after suspension and brake failures in consecutive days halted his progress in Austria—he finished a disappointing 11th.
The pit wall's decision to delay his switch from wet to intermediate tyres until the virtual safety car appeared, however, was the key to his impressive recovery, with Perez vaulting from 10th place to fourth without moving any of his overtaking muscles.
Out of position on a track where Red Bull were second only to the all-conquering Mercedes team, Perez was vulnerable to Ricciardo, who passed him around the outside of Stowe on Lap 21 but may have held on to fifth were it not for his spin at Abbey, which flat-spotted his tyres and left him exposed to Raikkonen.
Despite the Mexican's best efforts, Raikkonen,with the aid of DRS,completed the move at Stowe in the closing laps, but Perez was still celebrating Force India's best result at Silverstone with sixth place.
While Perez's crew were patting themselves on the back for yet another inspired strategy move, Nico Hulkenbergwas left to wonder what might have been had the decisions on his side of the garage—not for the first time in 2016—been a little smarter.
The German was among the drivers to change to intermediates as soon as the safety car disappeared at the end of Lap 5, with the VSC leading to him being jumped by several cars and staring at the rear of Massa's Williams for far too long.
That Hulkenberg recovered to finish within a second of his team-mate, though, proved just how strong his performance was.
After their first double-retirement in almost 12 months in Austria, Force India's return to the points—on a day Williams scored none—has moved them to within 19 points of their Mercedes-powered rivals in the fight for fourth in the constructors' championship.
Loser: Jolyon Palmer
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As those in attendance at the home of British motorsport once again knelt before their British world champion, the customary Plucky Brit—extremely likable but utterly hapless—was floundering at the back of the pack.
A winner at the track during his championship-winning GP2 campaign in 2014, Jolyon Palmer was "super-excited" to make his first F1 appearance at Silverstone, telling Channel 4's official website how he first attended the British GP at the tender age of seven.
Behind the wheel of a Renault car lacking both downforce and straight-line speed, however, his home event was never expected to be an enjoyable one for the Sussex-born driver, whose weekend turned out to be even worse than first feared.
After June's European GP, Palmer told Autosport (h/t Eurosport) how frustrated he was that front-running drivers were pushing unnecessarily hard in the first segment of qualifying, with their avoidable mistakes and the subsequent yellow-flag periods spoiling the session for the backmarkers.
Yet the 25-year-old hardly helped himself in Q1 at Silverstone, where his first qualifying time was deleted for exploiting track limits, placing pressure on Palmer to perfect his second run.
A strange lack of grip on his decisive lap, as he told the team's official website, left him in 18th, just 0.193 seconds ahead of Manor's Rio Haryanto and 0.176 seconds adrift of team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who despite his own track-limit dramas, returned Renault to Q2 for the first time since May's Monaco GP.
His race started well enough but took a turn for the worse when, during his second stop for dry-weather tyres on Lap 16, Palmer pulled away from his pit box with just three wheels attached to his R.S.16, forcing his mechanics to push him back up the pit lane.
Despite losing bundles of time during that incident—"about a minute," as he told the team's official website—Palmer still received a 10-second stop-go penalty for an unsafe release before being put out of his misery on Lap 36.
If this does prove to be Palmer's "one and only" British GP—as he hinted in the buildup to the race, per the Telegraph's Daniel Johnson—it was one to forget.
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To his credit, Jenson Button did warn us the British GP wouldn't be pretty for McLaren-Honda.
Even as he celebrated his most productive weekend in almost two years in Austria, the 2009 world champion told Sky Sports' Emma Walker how his home race—despite the ever-improving MP4-31 car—was "going to be tough" for McLaren unless it was held in "weird conditions."
Button's prayers were answered shortly before the start at Silverstone, where an intense rain shower led to the race beginning behind the safety car with all cars on extreme-wet tyres.
But despite McLaren achieving their best results in wet and changeable conditions over the last 18 months—think United States 2015 and Monaco '16—both Button and team-mate Fernando Alonso, who secured his fourth Q3 appearance of 2016 at Silverstone, were strangely anonymous in the race.
Alonso was among the several drivers who charged for intermediate tyres when the safety car start came to an end. As his frustration mounted, he became one of the major victims of the lingering wet patch at Abbey, damaging his front wing after a dramatic spin.
The two-time world champion eventually recovered to 13th, a place behind Button, whose weekend was defined by his elimination from the first segment of qualifying due to a broken rear-wing endplate.
With Red Bull and Force India, two teams that also run with plenty of rake on their cars, excelling on race day Silverstone, the British GP was very much a missed opportunity for McLaren.
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Last five British GP winners
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