Practice Sessions, FP1:
A typical start to the British GP as rain lashed down the Silverstone circuit during the session. But the fans were in full swing as they sat out seeing little action on the track. We saw only handful of laps from all the drivers, with some not even setting times by the end of the session. Ricciardo ran the most number of laps to end P1 with Hulkenberg P2 & Maldonado P3. SFI’s simulator driver was to drive in FP1 but with such a weather, his driving was postponed to a later date. Both di Resta & Sutil did go out for few laps but they didn’t set any time in the end.
Slightly better weather in the second session as rain stayed away. The track drying as rubber was laid in and naturally, lots of laps from the drivers covering for the loss in the first session. It was still cloudy but teams did their usual long runs preparing for race day. Rosberg led the pack as Webber & Vettel followed in a bit tightly packed top half. SFI had a productive day with di Rest rounding at P4 & Sutil P8, both completed the desired long run programme. The long run time and pace looked pretty good for the team.
A better weather and bit of sun on Saturday as teams started off with some more set up work mostly to tune in the car for qualifying later in the day. Not as many laps as we saw in the second session but several teams did try out more long runs. Rosberg continued his quick run beating his teammate Hamilton and Vettel. SFI by the outset had a bit of troubling session but were still in a good enough position. Sutil ended P9 as di Resta rounded off at P10.
The weather for qualifying was all dry and Mercedes were hot favourite for the pole, only to be seen if Rosberg would beat the home hero Hamilton though RBR’s Vettel & Webber too were not behind by much. All down to nerves on the best lap in the final Q3 run. SFI were clearly faster than McLaren and they could fancy their chances against Ferrari & Lotus who are not the strongest. Only threat one would say were the STR duo, both looked pretty good for Q3 shootout.
The qualifying fiesta begun under clear sky which most of the teams would have hoped for. It was great to see so many British fans turning for the GP as they always do. Hamilton gave them the cheers as he ended P1 in Q1 with Rosberg at P2 & Kimi at P3. Both the SFI made it safely through to the next stage with Sutil having saved a set of medium tyres after only using hard tyres for his run. Bottas & Estaben were the two drivers to go out along with the Marussia & Caterham duo.
The second session saw RBR taking the battle to Mercedes. Vettel topped the session with Webber behind him, Rosberg took P3 in Q2. Both the SFI made it through to the final 10 shootout. It was a tough battle out there with as many as any of the 13 cars could have made it to the top 10. McLaren duo & Massa were the three drivers bowed out in Q2. It was a big loss for the home team McLaren but good for SFI as they are in a big battle with them for P5 in CC.
The battle for pole was clear between the Mercedes & RBR as the championship contenders from Lotus & Ferrari were just not looking good enough. In the end Hamilton made it look easy snatching pole from his teammate. Fitting that home hero had the pole as Rosberg made it Mercedes 1-2 with Vettel taking P3. SFI’s di Resta was on fine form as he qualified a brilliant P5 and Sutil rounded off at P7 with both the Lotus & Ferrari behind them.
The pole battle turned out to be as expected with Mercedes taking pole. What fans might not have expected was Alonso & Kimi qualifying so low. SFI did a superb job qualifying in the top 7 but that was not it, there had to be a party spoiler. Post race checks saw di Resta to be underweight by 1.5kg and thus he was disqualified and sent to back of the field. A bitter blow again to him and the team as this unusual loss of weight destroyed a strong chance of a podium finish, the long awaited one.
It was a nice and sunny day in UK, perfect weather for a race, wasn’t too hot and not too cold. One doesn’t find this type of day in UK so often. Also, it was a much better day for fans who brave all type of weather to be there specially UK fans. The race was pinned to be an interesting one with lots of pundits pondering as to how will the tyres react to the rising temperatures as no one could do any runs on the tyres with the Sunday temperatures. What happened during the course of the 52 laps did shock me a bit, no one would have expected such kind of things to happen.
Hamilton got a good start as did Vettel moving ahead of Rosberg. Behind them it was a bit up and down start as Webber went back considerably while Massa made heaps of positions. Kimi & Alonso couldn’t make the most of the first lap either. The SFI duo both moved up well as Sutil was P4 and di Resta P18 by the end of lap 1. Hamilton was leading well until the first of the four tyre blow out happened. He immediately went behind the pack as Vettel took charge. Soon enough the next big starter Massa suffered the same problem as things started looking a bit serious. And long after these two that Vergne suffered the same problem bringing out the first SC to clear the debris. The drivers were warned of watching out for kerbs and looking after their tyres. After the SC was called in, Vettel took the lead as Rosberg started to chase him down.
The drama was just not over as the race leader, Vettel halted at the start/finish line with a transmission failure resulting in his first DNF of the season giving the lead to Rosberg and turning the whole race to a different direction. It also got the SC out bringing the whole field together and allowing the likes of Alonso, Webber to pit and go for the kill in the end laps which they surely did. Alonso, Webber, Hamilton & Massa all made at least 2-3 positions up the ladder in the last ten laps which made the race much more interesting & thrilling. Rosberg was challenged from Webber but he held on to get his second win of the season putting Mercedes in the P2 position in CC. Webber in his last ever British GP ended P2 and Alonso made a surprise entry to the podium ending P3 after having a difficult weekend in the slow Ferrari.
The championship battle took an interesting turn with Vettel’s DNF, Alonso & Kimi made few in-rides. Vettel need to win few more of the races to keep his position safe for his fourth title. In the CC battle, Mercedes recent good form has seen them jump to P2 now taking the battle to RBR now. Both Ferrari & Lotus have lost some points. For SFI it was good news as McLaren didn’t scored again and thus SFI stretched the lead to 22 points now which is very significant in the P5 battle. Not much time left for the German GP, always love the vibes for back to back GP’s.
Some interesting stats for SFI after British GP, the team matched its 6 consecutive point finishes and if they score in Germany, they will set a new record for the team. They broke their own record of 3 consecutive double point finishes. Paul is stretching his points finishes lead as he has got six consecutive point finishes this season now.