LEWIS Hamilton has cut Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s world championship lead to a mere point after the Briton charged to a crushing win in a lively British Grand Prix.
In changeable track conditions, pole man Lewis Hamilton led every lap in a grand prix that started under the safety car in wet conditions, but then dried out.
It was Hamilton’s fourth win in his home grand prix.
If Rosberg wasn’t dispirited enough watching Hamilton bag a dominant win, his mood would have slumped further when stewards demoted him from second to third for illegally receiving technical advice over his radio.
Rosberg also had other problems extending beyond the Red Bull threat led by Max Verstappen, who was impressive again, overtaking the German around the outside of the attention-getting Beckett’s.
If Hamilton was supreme to the point of invincibility, the action through the field was loaded with tight battles in the awkward conditions.
As the track dried, drivers came in for intermediates. And, later, slicks…
Hamilton’s only concern came when he slid on a greasy wet patch but was able to continue without losing ground.
On a dry track, Rosberg was finally able to catch and overtake Verstappen, but those positions were later reversed by the stewards.
The penalty related to a mechanical issue that surfaced late in the race. Engineers advised Rosberg to reset systems in his Mercedes and also avoid using seventh gear.
He fought on to cross the line ahead of Verstappen in second, but was then given a post-race 10-second penalty.
Rosberg pointed out after the race that the issue was critical and that he was stuck in seventh gear and likely to stop on track.
He must also be wondering where the hell his massive early season points lead has gone.
And where was Daniel Ricciardo in all this?
After starting alongside Versappen on the second row, the Australian was never quite in the hunt.
“I think for the team and for the points it was really good,” Ricciardo said after his fourth-place finish the race.
“Obviously we gained a bit on Ferrari which is nice, but for me it was lonely and a bit boring. We lost a lot of time with the virtual safety car and that was just bad luck. This was out of our hands and there’s nothing we could have done different. It just came at the wrong time for me and we lost the position to Perez and then more than 10 seconds behind the leaders. Then not stopping again for the rest of the race you can’t catch this much. When the pace in the front is what it is you can get a tenth here or there but not half a second per lap. I was ready for a battle and some action today, but unfortunately it wasn’t given to me. It is what it is now and hopefully Budapest works better.”
Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel had a tough race; the Finn a repeat offender at Abbey three times before hanging in to overtake Force India's Sergio Perez for fifth place.
Vettel was another spinner at Abbey, and was classified 10th after copping a five-second penalty for helping the Williams of veteran Felipe Massa off the track.
Qualifying revealed that Mercedes still holds sway with Hamilton and Rosberg locking out the front row. But Red Bull is clearly improving, with Verstappen and Ricciardo barely separated in third and fourth, and ahead of the Ferraris.
Heading into Silverstone, after another controversial incident with Rosberg, Hamilton said he was strongly opposed to Mercedes introducing team orders to the F1 title fight because it robbed fans and, for the drivers, took the joy out of racing.
Triple world champion Hamilton told BBC Sport: "I've been in that position before. It goes against all racing values."
Mercedes will be happy that the team orders issue didn’t arise at Silverstone. Hamilton was simply too far ahead.
Red Bull Racing dominates Townsville Supercars round
IT WAS a Red Bull double act on the streets of Townsville at the weekend with the energy drink’s two drivers sharing the spoils in the twin 200km races – Jamie Whincup winning on Saturday with Shane van Gisbergen triumphing a day later. The overall round winner was the Kiwi, with the Giz also taking a second place in the earlier race.
Ominously for the rest, Whincup and van Gisbergen now own the top two places in the championship.
Whincup, from pole, was cruising to victory on Saturday when an unwelcome safety car intervention wiped away his five-second buffer and put him in the gunsights of van Gisbergen and Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom.
But Whincup nailed the restart for the two-lap dash to the chequered flag.
“The car was fantastic,” said Whincup. “I am rapt with the result. Like always, you have got to have quick cars to win races and we had two rockets today so a big well done to the engineers.
“The cars were consistent, it was a great day. There has been plenty of frustration going on behind the scenes. But there’s no need to worry about that now.”
Winterbottom took third, with Ford’s Chaz Mostert fourth. Tekno’s Will Davison mugged James Courtney right on the line to snaffle fifth.
Still, Courtney and HRT teammate Garth Tander revealed some decent car pace, and hinted that even better things are not far away.
On Sunday, though, van Gisbergen won his third race of the year from a rejuvenated James Courtney, who benefited from a late safety car called in eight laps from the end. The HRT driver was one of a few who gambled on the upped pace offered by fresh tyres. The frontrunners chose to stay out on old rubber while Courtney slipped to ninth at the stop but then went on a hard charge to pip Winterbottom for second. Whincup was fourth.
Van Gisbergen managed his tyres rather well and had some rubber to play with right to the flag. “I was a bit worried after the safety car but had heaps of grip – I’m so stoked,” van Gisbergen said.
Courtney’s grin was back after his fruity drive to second, just 1.25sec away from the winner.
Crowd fave Craig Lowndes took 10th after struggling with his tyres throughout.
The Townsville weekend was also laced with speculation about the future of HRT and its drivers, whose contracts end this year. HRT still doesn’t know if it will benefit from factory Holden support next year, with the carmaker expected to reduce its financial commitment, but to what extent isn’t known yet.
Perhaps seriously, perhaps cheekily, Courtney told news agency AAP he's considering several alternatives next year and may even take his family overseas to ply his craft. "Just weighing it up; it's a big move for the family,” he said.
Courtney agreed that the looming decision from Holden on its future motorsport commitments will influence his decision.
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