British Grand Prix – The Race

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For totally selfish reasons, a tiny little part of me was hoping for a deathly dull, processional British Grand Prix where Sebastian Vettel bored everyone into extinction and won by a country mile or three. But only because since the last race (was it Canada…it feels like a lifetime ago) my life has been properly bonkers.


I do not recommend moving house right slap bang in the middle of summer when for various other reasons (many of them lovely ones to be fair) our next free weekend appears to be in August. Throw into the mix the loose cannon of the 2 year old who isn’t very understanding of house moves or anything on the TV which isn’t Mr Tumble and well it doesn’t make for a serene blogging haven. Also ignoring all those reasons, I don’t recommend moving house generally. Still we’re very happy to be in the New House even if it has a baby garden (thanks to the 6 year old – yes he was 6 yesterday!!! – for that disarmingly honest description).


I missed all of qualifying so suffice to say I didn’t even realise or notice that Paul Di Resta was last on the grid. I missed all the build up. I even missed all of the must-watch #MartinsGridWalk (although according to Twitter, poor Martin had to attempt to interview such petrolhead luminaries as Carol Vorderman and Jamie Redknapp so in retrospect that was a good dodge) but unlike many other years, I did manage to watch the British Grand Prix and what a stonking race it was.


Here’s how it unfolded in Power Towers. Time For the Start and Go Go Go…!


Lewis Hamilton on pole made a brilliant start. In contrast, Mark Webber had a catastrophic start. Having qualified in P4, he was suddenly in 15th place in a matter of seconds. It transpired that Grosjean had given him a little bump but nothing more untoward than a classic ‘start incident’. So the opening order was 1. Hamilton 2. Vettel (who took Rosberg at the start) 3. Rosberg 4. Sutil 5. Massa and 6. Kimi. After a disastrous qualifying performance, Alonso was making his way up from P9.


Then on lap 8, the race leader and GREAT BRITISH HOPE (not my words but the imagined hysterical, patriotic nonsense that the Daily Mail would no doubt be spouting), Lewis Hamilton, suffered a puncture and his left rear tyre spectacularly delaminated scattering scraps of rubber everywhere. To make matters worse, he was nowhere near the pits and had to pedal his car back slowly to whack on a new set of tyres. This meant that Vettel now led the race. Oh good *sarcastic face*.


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And less than two laps later, there was more drama as Massa had a tyre delamination at almost exactly the same place as Lewis. And in an entirely unrelated coincidence at that very moment, Paul Hembery glanced down at his mobile phone to see an incoming call from Bernie.


So the order on lap 11 was 1. Vettel 2. Rosberg 3. Sutil 4. Kimi 5. Ricciardo 6. Perez. And the first round of pitstops were all kicking off.


Then on lap 15, just as Kimi was taking Grosjean (who had just received the helpful instruction of ‘remember Romain, Kimi is faster than you’….hmmmm team order much?) it was the turn of Jean-Eric Vergne to experience the headrush of a left rear tyre delamination while driving very, very, very fast. New underpants please for Jean-Eric and Kimi who got a face full of burning rubber flying past him at 200 miles an hour. Nice.


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There was no other option but to bring out the safety car while all the team principals shat on Paul Hembery from a dizzy height the marshalls cleaned up the track. The camera panned across to Adrian Newey practically sobbing with his head in his hands. We then saw shots of Pirelli technicians literally running into their compound with bags of shredded tyre. Turned out that Adrian Newey had pulled himself together and was now conducting his own analysis. Newey conclusion: more pressure needed in the tyres. Probably a good idea just to go with the advice of the resident F1 genius than…er…the people who keep producing tyres that suddenly delaminate.


So on lap 22 the race restarted. And the order was (actually this may have been the order before the safety car but who knows!) 1. Vettel 2. Rosberg 3. Sutil 4. Alonso 5. Kimi and 6. Grosjean (and Lewis was 14th). Vettel was advised by the team to avoid kerbs and high speed corners. It soon became very clear that he wasn’t going to avoid kerbs and high speed corners and nor was anyone else. Racing drivers will be racing drivers at the end of the day. They are hard-wired to find the shortest possible angles around a track and why should they be made to do anything different because the tyres are a collective crock of shite.


Lewis got a slapped wrist over the radio for over-using his pedals which apparently meant he was stopping the KERS from harvesting. The husband did explain it to me and actually it sounded quite a lot like the way I drive. Lets hear it for pedal fiends. Meanwhile Ricciardo was continuing to put himself verrrrrrrrrry nicely in the shop window by catching Grosjean for 6th place.


Button languishing much further down was radio-ing through a litany of complaints to McLaren as well he might. They might want to rethink their new strapline of Believe in McLaren which surely some marketing executive dreamt up in a drunk moment. Webber had now manoeuvred his way up to 7th having just passed Grosjean.


Meanwhile the weak chink in Mercedes’ armoury (ie. race pace – which I admit is a very big chink) was starting to take its toll. On lap 33, Hamilton was passed by Kimi, then Alonso and Webber. As the second round of pitstops got underway, Hamilton had a fantastic ‘Battle of the Brits’ scrap with Di Resta just after exiting from the pits. Di Resta gave everything he had in his locker to cling onto his track position (and oddly enough that gutsy cameo impressed me more than almost anything he has ever done) but ultimately and inevitably Hamilton managed to sweep past on lap 38.


In other feisty battles, Kimi and Webber were having a hard-fought tussle for 3rd place and Sutil was taking no prisoners in keeping Ricciardo at bay.


The SUDDENLY, another moment of SENSATIONAL DRAMA. Vettel was SLOWING and was OUT OF THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX. A huge roar went up from the grandstand and I’ll be honest there were some huge cheers in Power Towers. Apparently it was gearbox failure. Adrian Newey will definitely be weeping buckets now. Because Vettel’s car conked out at the side of the track the safety car had another outing and racing resumed on lap 45. All of which meant that the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was yet again leading a Grand Prix.


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But guess what? We had ANOTHER TYRE DELAMINATION. This time for Perez who was forced to retire for the fairly terminal reason that his car had a giant hole in its left side. The one great side effect of the safety car late on was that it bunched all the cars up close and so we had some really insane racing in the final few laps.


Ricciardo was passed by Alonso and Hamilton. Then on lap 48, Webber overtook Kimi for P2. That’ll be a difficult post-race debrief at Lotus given Kimi asked ‘did we make the right choice not to pit?’ during the safety car period. My guess is no. Sometimes I think if Lotus had Ross Brawn as technical director, Kimi Raikkonen might be on his way to winning a 2nd title. I note since Mercedes’ huge resurgence there are positive indications that Brawn may be extending his tenure there. Wise move dudes.


The race had now gone totally batsh*t mental and the cameras didn’t even know who to focus on. Even on the penultimate lap, there was a further mini-twist as Lewis Hamilton (he of the first delaminated tyre) passed Kimi for 4th place.


Here are the results from the British Grand Prix 2013:
  1. Rosberg – His second win for Mercedes of the year. All hail Nico.

  2. Webber – Pretty much perfect day for Mark. A fantastic drive from the back of the field and his team-mate’s race (and almost certain win) implodes into the bargain.

  3. Alonso – A typically masterful performance by Fernando who worked his magic to fashion a podium place from P10 in qualifying. If only he had a Schumacher-esque Ferrari.

  4. Hamilton – An excellent comeback after the appalling misfortune in the opening laps.

  5. Kimi – Should have been a podium. Your bad, Lotus.

  6. Massa – See Hamilton, above.

Well that was one of the best British Grand Prix races in a long time. Dare I say it, perhaps the best race of the season so far. While the tyre delaminations are obviously extremely dangerous and unacceptable, the drama definitely injected some real excitement and unpredictability into the race.

The sport logistics for Sunday are slightly frightening. The German Grand Prix and the Wimbledon Mens Final (watching the semis as I frantically type) at more or less the same time and its going to be 25 degrees. Sounds pretty darn perfect to me.
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