Sunday 25 March 2018 / 02:56 AM


The halfway mark of the Formula 1 season took place last weekend at the iconic Silverstone Circuit in Britain; a long and fast track with plenty of passing opportunities.

The Ferrari cars received a minor upgrade which was expected to help them further close the slight gap between them and the Silver Arrows. Free Practice 1 saw Valtteri Bottas continue his strong form, setting the pace, pipping his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari took the opportunity to trial a protective shield on Sebastian Vettel’s car, but it wasn’t to his liking. Both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ran softer tyres than the rest of the field and set the third and fourth fastest times respectively with both Ferrari’s behind them.

The second practice session was again dominated by the Mercedes cars, however the Ferrari’s found some extra pace to jump the Red Bulls. Verstappen had a near miss incident with Felipe Massa’s Williams that looked to cut him off in a slow corner. The incident was noted but no further action was deemed necessary. Bottas and Ricciardo’s cars both had gearbox changes after the session which attracted a 5 grid place penalty for the race.

FP3 provided some much better performance from the Ferrari’s with Vettel very nearly matching Hamilton’s top time for the session, while Bottas was just as close to Vettel. Both Red Bull’s were outpaced by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. Some rain fell in the final 20 minutes of the session and most teams opted to sit it out.

The first session in Qualifying had an exhilarating finale. Alonso pitted and changed to a soft tyre with very little time to fit in his outlap. He crossed the finish line with less than a second remaining in the session. The session ended with Alonso in the rare position of first place in Q1. Ricciardo’s car set the pace early, but broke down midway through and was retired. Both Saubers, Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll were also eliminated in Q1. Alonso failed to get through to Q3 and was joined by both Toro Rosso’s, Jolyon Palmer and a disappointing Massa. Raikkonen looked to have set a formidable time in Q3 before a blistering lap by Hamilton put him on pole. Vettel came in third behind his team mate.

Bottas started down in ninth, while Ricciardo was 19th and Alonso last as punishment for having to make mechanical changes to their cars. This pushed Verstappen onto the second row. Palmer’s car broke down on the parade lap, which saw a second parade lap required. At the end of that lap, Vettel’s brakes were on fire, but he lined up on the grid and started the race anyway. Verstappen stole third place from Vettel off the start briefly but by the second corner he was stuck behind Raikkonen which allowed Vettel to pass him. Verstappen reclaimed the spot around the outside of the next turn and maintained it. The two had another great, albeit brief battle where both cars refused to yield. Vettel performed the undercut on Verstappen which worked to great effect.

Ricciardo was moving through the back of the field rapidly and soon found himself inside the top 10 and was the second last car to pit. When he returned to the track he was behind both Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg. He got around the first three within his four laps after resuming and set about reeling in Hulkenberg who had an 11 second lead.

With two laps remaining in the race, second placed Raikkonen suffered a puncture and had to pit which saw him lose his position to Bottas and elevated Vettel to third. Fifth placed Verstappen also came in for a change of tyres, fearing he was about to get a puncture. He had a huge lead over the sixth placed Hulkenberg who was suffering from a mechanical issue, but still able to drive, however he was reeled in by Ricciardo. On the last lap Vettel suffered a puncture and this saw Raikkonen move into third, with both Red Bulls behind. Vettel returned to the fray behind the sixth placed Hulkenberg, thus allowing Hamilton to almost wipe his deficit in the championship to Vettel.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Bottas (Mercedes)
3 – Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4 – Verstappen (Red Bull)
5 – RIcciardo (Red Bull)
6 – Hulkenberg (Renault)
7 – Vettel (Ferrari)
8 – Ocon (Force India)
9 – Perez (Force India)
10 – Massa (Williams)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Vettel – 177
2 – Hamilton – 176
3 – Bottas – 154
4 – Ricciardo – 117
5 – Raikkonen – 98
6 – Verstappen – 57
7 – Perez – 52
8 – Ocon – 43
9 – Sainz – 29
10 – Hulkenberg – 26

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 330
2 – Ferrari – 275
3 – Red Bull – 174
4 – Force India – 95
5 – Williams – 41
6 – Toro Rosso – 33
7 – Haas – 29
8 – Renault – 26
9 – Sauber – 5
10 – McLaren – 2

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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