BRILLIANT WET POLE SETS UP SURPRISE HAMILTON WIN
Vettel sheds more points at race his to lose
1st LEWIS HAMILTON Mercedes
2nd SEBASTIAN VETTEL Ferrari
3rd KIMI RAIKKONEN Ferrari
With an unexpected victory, Hamilton extended his points lead going into the summer break. During Friday practice Mercedes plainly had the third fastest car but heavy rain in qualifying was their salvation, locking out the front row ahead of the Ferrari pair. Race day returned to the baking hot conditions that would favour Ferrari’s superior race pace, the Scuderia also starting Vettel on ‘softs’ for a long first stint that would later bring him into play for a shot at victory. The strategy looked promising, Vettel assuming the lead when poleman Hamilton made his lap 25 stop. But over laps 34-38 he lost 2s in traffic and two more at a bungled lap 39 pitstop. Crucially this brought him out behind Bottas in P2. Despite his faster, fresher ‘ultras’, Vettel couldn’t pass, trailing Bottas for 25 laps while Hamilton extended his lead by a further 16s. On lap 65, Valtteri’s worn ‘softs’, now 50 laps old, gave Seb a chance that resulted in a collision at turn 2, Bottas sustaining front wing damage. Vettel, followed by 2-stopping Räikkönen, was through, but the remaining 6 laps were never enough to catch winner Hamilton. Ricciardo, P16 on lap 1 after a qualifying nightmare, also passed the ailing Mercedes for P4, the Finn penalised 10s for a second clash. Bottas was also upset by Toto Wolf’s post-race remark, praising him as Hamilton’s ‘wing-man’. ‘Best of the rest’ was Pierre Gasly with a highly merited and unlapped P6 for Toro Rosso-Honda.
After Germany Vettel needed victory at a circuit well suited to his Ferrari. It didn’t happen. Neither did it for Red Bull, also targeting a possible win. The RB14 was hopeless in wet qualifying and Verstappen out with Renault trouble within 5 laps. So in this gripping to-and-fro title battle, Hamilton held a handy rather than crushing 24-point lead at the break. Marchionne’s death and Force India’s plight caused some Paddock gloom.
The Championship Chase
Hamilton 213, Vettel 189, Räikkönen 146, Bottas 132, Ricciardo 118
Mercedes 345, Ferrari 335, Red Bull 223, Renault 82, Haas 66
Formula 1 All the Races