British Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

British Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

17 July 2017 – Lewis Hamilton's spiritual ownership of Silverstone continued with a dominant display, while title rival Sebastian Vettel was left deflated. GPUpdate.net presents its winners and losers from the British Grand Prix.

Winners

Such was the aura around Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes throughout a largely cool and cloudy weekend at Silverstone that a fourth straight victory never felt in doubt. Hamilton's pole position lap was sheer perfection, as he drew just one shy of Michael Schumacher's all-time record. Hamilton aced the start and, after the Safety Car phase, quickly built a buffer over Kimi Räikkönen. It was, though, during the pit-stop phase that Hamilton's superiority was highlighted, the proverbial 'Hammertime' in full view. Having kept Räikkönen four seconds behind, on successive laps the gap grew to 5.2s, 6.0s, 7.2s, 8.3s, 9.6s, 10.6s, before Räikkönen – then Hamilton – pitted. Hamilton, needing to pull away from the yet-to-stop Valtteri Bottas, did so with aplomb, by which time Räikkönen was 14 seconds adrift. The remaining laps were a formality, and he was handed the gold trophy for a fifth time, and celebrated with expected frenzy as he greeted the rapturous crowd.

Red Bull's reliability troubles arose once more when a gearbox issue left Daniel Ricciardo on the back foot, but the sanction became redundant when a suspected turbo problem stranded him in Q1. Ricciardo started 19th, ahead only of the perennially penalised Fernando Alonso, and was at the rear of the surviving 18-car field at the restart after going wide at Luffield. Ricciardo regrouped and swept past the bulk of the stragglers, all while preserving his Super Soft tyres, allowing him fresher Softs for his second stint. Ricciardo came out behind the Force Indias but overhauled the pair on the same lap, demoted the yet-to-stop Kevin Magnussen, profited when Vettel suffered a puncture and moved past the ailing Nico Hülkenberg late on. Fifth was the maximum possible in the circumstances and Ricciardo executed a stupendous recovery, swiftly making progress without compromising his prospects – at least after the early Luffield off. 

For the first time, on merit, Nico Hülkenberg and Renault spearheaded the midfield charge, boosted by a new floor fitted to the R.S.17. Hülkenberg was a contender throughout the weekend, typically quick in slippery conditions in qualifying, and building on his pace to clock the sixth best time in Q3, which became fifth after Bottas' demotion. Hülkenberg lost out to Esteban Ocon off the line but recaptured the position with an assertive move into Stowe and gradually pulled clear of the Force India drivers after the pit-stop phase. Hülkenberg gained from Vettel's demise though a leak around the exhaust cost the Renault driver power, assisting Ricciardo's progression, but sixth was still a fine reward for a top weekend's work. Hülkenberg moved into the top 10 in the standings, while Renault took a leap towards midfield rivals as it equalled its best result since its full-time comeback.

Losers

Earlier in the season, Ferrari staked its claim to the 2017 title with a strong opening spell, but it is now win-less in four, its Constructors' hopes are all but over, and Vettel is hanging on atop the Drivers' battle. Vettel put in his most lacklustre performance of the year pace-wise, adrift of Räikkönen over one-lap before a slow getaway left him stuck behind Max Verstappen. The undercut gifted Vettel the place back but he was overhauled by the recovering Bottas, though not before heavily locking up into Club. Wary of his tyres, Vettel backed off, but the front-left let go on the penultimate lap, and he slumped to seventh. Räikkönen, meanwhile, put in an accomplished performance, for beating Hamilton was never a realistic proposition. His late, unrelated tyre failure was a cruel blow, but the Finn was wisely as interested in Ferrari's lack of pace as the rubber issue. Hungary, a circuit with similar traits to Monaco, where Ferrari dominated, will be crucial.

It was not so long ago that Toro Rosso was firmly in place to achieve its season-goal of fifth, but is now perilously close to dropping to eighth after a dismal run, which reached its nadir in Britain. Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. scrapped on the opening lap and their varying lines converged into Becketts, with the Russian running slightly wide onto the exit kerb. Kvyat's approach was compromised and a snap of oversteer took him into the side of Sainz Jr., who had dutifully given him space. Kvyat blamed Sainz Jr., while Sainz Jr. blamed Kvyat; one was out, the other penalised and with any hope of points gone. Kvyat's post-race comments, after a second first-lap collision caused by his actions in as many weeks, were not indicative of a driver willing to learn from mistakes.

As Britain's leading representative prepared to blitz his rivals for a fourth straight year, its other slinked away from his stricken car and was left pondering when his fortune would change. Jolyon Palmer has had to bat away criticism on a regular basis, a chunk of it justified, for neither his performances in qualifying or race trim – the former a big reason for the latter – have been good enough in 2017. Nevertheless, an array of recent problems have denied Palmer a fair crack of the whip, with a loss of hydraulic pressure robbing him of the opportunity to even take the start for his home Grand Prix. Palmer's pace deficit to an admittedly on-form Hülkenberg was alarming, though lining up from 11th at least gave him the strongest chance yet of fighting for a much-needed top 10 result. However, lady luck felt otherwise…

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