There was a moment, 13 laps into the British GP this evening when we had to wonder whether there was going to be a British GP at all, let alone the edge-of-the-seat stonker we had. We’ve been losing contenders at Wimbledon all week, now it was happening at Silverstone. What is going on?
One more ‘pop’ in the early part of the race and surely the red flags would have been unfurled? But should they have been immediately after Massa’s failure on lap nine? Or after Gutierrez’s front wing exploded a thousand little bits of sharp carbon on to an already spikey track? A lot of people earned their money this afternoon; I would not have liked to have made the decision to keep going, but thank God they did.
One tyre failure —especially when it happens to leader and sure winner Lewis Hamilton — was unfortunate, two careless… but four? The third, Jean Eric Vergne’s spectacular failure on lap 13 brought out the safety car for eight laps to allow time for JEV’s atomised rubber to be collected up.
There will be an enquiry that will make news for longer than Rosberg’s narrow win just fractions of seconds over the charging Mark Webber. There have been tyre explosions all season. Indeed Pirelli used the need to address the situation in part to justify its ‘secret’ test with Mercedes. It’s said Pirelli recommended to the teams a switch back to last year’s Kevlar construction from this year’s steel but the teams declined.
So we got another kind of race this afternoon where the drivers were obliged to indulge in a different strategy, more traditional this one, which involved just keeping it off the kerbs. Less evolved than driving to a delta, it didn’t seem to emasculate the racing at all.
Once the bits of rubber were in bin bags and the safety car back in the garage the 2013 British Grand Prix was a brilliant race. Hamilton’s drive back from dead last to fourth showed, along with Rosberg’s win, that the Mercedes will be a contender now for the rest of season, so don’t discount Hamilton for the title. Wow, did I just write that?
After a rare retirement, Sebastian Vettel’s lead was cut to less than a win from Fernando Alonso, third in the race this afternoon after a better Sunday than a Saturday. Kimi Raikkonen, apparent early title contender slipped back in the race and indeed the championship as first Webber, then Alonso and then Hamilton past him at the end. Lotus just don’t seem to be able to convert it and Kimi will be looking forward to that chat with Christian Horner.
Meanwhile some of the young ones who are also in the queue for the Red Bull motorhome — Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta — barely seemed to take note of the endless warnings to keep off the stripey bits. Likewise Daniel Ricciardo the man who would like to think he’s top of the list if Kimi can’t be convinced he will enjoy life with Sebastian Vettel as a team mate.
Sometimes cars out of place make for a good race, sometimes it’s just messy, but today was undoubtedly the former. Webber had to come back from 15th on the opening lap after another strike from the first lap nutcase — should make for a good post-race interview that one. There will be many things Mark Webber will miss from F1, Romain Grosjean won’t be one of them. Another lap and he would have won this race.