It was the result the majority in the home crowd wanted as Lewis Hamilton strolled to a second dominant win at the British Grand Prix.
There was something special that exactly six years following his commanding display in the near monsoon conditions at Silverstone, once again it was on the sixth of July that Hamilton gained a result that has massive implications in a championship charge.
Back in 2008 it was his nearest challenger Felipe Massa spinning five times in the terrible conditions and now in 2014 Nico Rosberg felt Silverstone’s wrath as he suffered his first retirement on the year while leading the race.
For the fans, however, it was just the ultimate cherry on the cake as those who had begun to suggest it was Rosberg’s title to lose saw their theory squashed as Hamilton brought the gap in the standings down to just four points.
The jubilation on Sunday was in direct contrast to gloom on Saturday when Rosberg claimed pole and Hamilton’s mistake to back off on his final run saw him drop to sixth, but the cloud had a silver lining as he quickly dispatched those ahead before the battle looked to be on with Rosberg.
Indeed that was the only thing that Sunday lacked, there was no doubt in many people’s minds Lewis was the quicker driver in the race, his pace after pitting for the hard tyres was simply mind-boggling and it would have been simply a matter of time before the two Mercedes would have been wheel-to-wheel.
Stand out performances
But as the local favourite made the home crowd go wild there was a number of stand out performances behind him.
Valtteri Bottas put on an overtaking master class rounding cars at Stowe and just highlighting why the No. 77 Williams is here to stay for a very long time.
There is no doubting too that the Grove team has made huge progress in the last few races, from struggling to maximise their potential for much of the season, Bottas’ first two podiums in his F1 career, comfortably beating the Red Bull’s, have to make the Finn a contender for third in the drivers’ championship while if Felipe Massa can also extract the speed from the FW36, second in the constructors’ may not be ruled out.
In many ways Daniel Ricciardo salvaged a good result for Red Bull at Silverstone, his incredible 37-lap stint on the medium tyres prove not only has he got the race craft, but also the sensitive touch as well and without that the four-time champions could have been red-faced again at their second home race.
If Lewis Hamilton got the crowd cheering, Jenson Button nearly got them crying as the Briton produced a stellar drive to take fourth, just missing out on his first Silverstone podium.
In the build-up to the weekend much of the talk was surrounding Ron Dennis’ call for Button to give more out on the track, while most, including Button, brushed it aside saying ‘Well why doesn’t McLaren give him a better car then?’ and indeed at a track Jenson himself believed would not suit the MP4-29 he was more than a match for those around him proving if there is more to give, it’s not from Button.
A battle for the ages
Rarely do we get to see two drivers, who have arguments to be named among the best to step foot inside a F1 car, battle it out on one of the greatest tracks on the calendar.
But on Sunday at Silverstone, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso put on a show that fans could watch over and over and over again.
Yet at the same time their incredible duel highlighted everything that is wrong about modern F1.
There was nothing that happened that could be classed an unsportsmanlike, it was aggressive but largely fair racing between two great drivers.
Yet the whole scrap was characterised by back and forth radio messages complaining to the race stewards.
Now it is good that the stewards are clamping down on drivers exploiting track limits by simply running off track at certain corners, but to have both Alonso and Vettel complaining constantly about it spoilt the great battle they had.
The level of bravery and trust, however, when they were simply concentrating on racing wheel-to-wheel was unbelievable.
Two of the best moves you will ever see at Copse corner, taken at about 170mph, with both men not backing down until the last moment was simply incredible, during the move Vettel eventually made to pass Alonso, how the pair didn’t touch from Brooklands all the way to Copse I will never know.
Raikkonen's crash highlights modern F1 flaw
Sadly for all the great racing, the British Grand Prix will also be remembered for Kimi Raikkonen’s horrendous crash on the first lap.
After running wide turning onto the Wellington Straight, the Ferrari man stayed on full throttle through the run-off only to hit a bump as he rejoined and be speared into a barrier halfway down the straight.
This to me shows the liberties modern racing drivers feel they can take thanks to modern safety standards. If that would have been simply grass Kimi would not have been able to do what he did, but because he was able to keep his speed up he believed he could simply return to the track with no dramas.
The resultant impact with the Armco was measured at 47-G while the destroyed Ferrari also was able to slide back across the track forcing Felipe Massa to half spin in a hope of avoiding a head on collision.
I’m sure rather than trying to prevent another driver from doing such again, the strip of grass will simply be removed as it was on the exit of Copse but the FIA should look at this incident and learn from it because even if the bump had not been there should another car have been alongside when Kimi rejoined the collision then would have been much more severe.
Marussia and Toro Rosso star
On a happier topic, Marussia deserve credit for another much improved performance. After getting both cars on the fringe of the top ten in the damp qualifying, Jules Bianchi was running in the points again following Raikkonen’s crash.
Though the Frenchman would eventually finish 14th, only ahead of a Caterham and team-mate Max Chilton in those who made the finish, there is much greater hope that if they can keep developing perhaps another points finish before the end of the season cannot be ruled out.
Another mention must go to Toro Rosso who, after terrible reliability in recent races, not only got both cars home but in the points as well.
The STR9 remains one of those cars that is quietly quicker than most realise and if they can continue with some better reliability more points will be on the horizon.
Gloves are off heading to Hockenheim
But the day belonged to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes who, before Rosberg’s retirement, highlighted their massive advantage pulling out over two seconds per lap on the McLaren’s during the early part of the race.
I believe there is still some pace to come from the W05 but with reliability now becoming a greater worry for them, it is unlikely we will see it unless the gloves really come off between Rosberg and Hamilton.
And they may just do as Nico heads for home field advantage at another great racing venue, Hockenheim, for the German Grand Prix, it should be an absolute thriller.
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