Formula 1

Mercedes face late challenge from improving Williams

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Following yet another Mercedes one-two in qualifying, many expected the British Grand Prix to be plain sailing for both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

And while they did eventually secure their usual positions at the top, it didn’t come without a major scare, courtesy of Williams.

On an eventful day that had it all, including a virtual safety car, pit stop antics and a variety of sunshine and heavy rain as well as a British winner to boot.

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Right from the start, Williams showed they could match the ability of the championship leaders with veteran driver Felipe Massa taking the lead from third while his teammate Valtteri Bottas very nearly snatched second place from Hamilton.

Early exits from Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Max Verstappen left 16 drivers battling for the top spots and the call for a safety car following these crashes was a decisive factor in this exciting fight for first.

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Upon the restart Hamilton fought too hard to take the lead, losing out to Bottas and leaving both Mercedes behind the Williams cars. It didn’t last, however, as clever pit stops allowed the leaders to regain their place at the top.

Williams rising

Despite the victory it wasn’t the first time this season Toto Wolff’s team have shown their vulnerability, with Sebastian Vettel outdriving them at Malaysia.

The Williams cars were using a brand new front wing last weekend which, among other things, gave them the boost they needed to establish themselves as serious race competitors.

The fake pit stop tactic used by Mercedes showed a hint of desperation and maybe showed that overconfidence is allowing other teams to make developments which jeopardise their position.

Consolation prize

While it appears too late to knock them from their leads if Williams can mount serious challenges throughout the rest of the season it could signal a much closer fought battle for dominance in the 2016 season, and even more so with the return of refuelling in the 2017 campaign.

Hamilton may be feeling confident about his chances of a second successive championship but he is clearly about to get a run for his money.

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Formula 1

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