Lewis Hamilton took a third career British Grand Prix win and his fifth victory of the 2015 season in an incident-packed race at Silverstone, despite an early upset which saw the Briton passed by both Williams cars.
Hamilton made a bad getaway at the start and was passed by Felipe Massa into turn one and then, following a short safety car period following a lap one crash at the back of the field, the Briton was passed by Valtteri Bottas on the restart.
The championship leader made amends later on, however, bypassing both Williams in the first pit stop window. Having taken the lead, he then didn’t look back and powered to the 38th win of his career despite the onset of rain in the second half of the race.
Rosberg also got away badly at the start and was passed by the Williams cars. His route to the podium was tricker than Hamilton’s and he spent the bulk of the race chasing down Bottas and Massa. He eventually made his way pas the dup in the damp second half of the race to complete Mercedes’ sixth one-two finish of the season.
Sebastian Vettel finished third, profiting in the unpredictable wet conditions late in the race to vault past the Williams cars and claim his sixth podium finish of the year.
On the way to the grid Felipe Nasr’s Sauber developed a problem, with the Brazilian pulling over at Stowe corner. Nasr eventually made it back to the Sauber garage but despite efforts to get the problem remedied, Nasr was unable to take the start.
Forming up for the start Hamilton radioed his team to report that there was little grip on the grid and when the lights went out the pole sitter got away badly. So too did Rosberg, and Massa, starting third, seized the opportunity, blasting between the Mercedes to take the lead into turn one. His Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas also took advantage, bypassing the slower Rosberg. He tried to pass Hamilton but the Briton resisted and managed to hold second.
With Rosberg fourth, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg powered through to take fifth after starting ninth, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen sixth. Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat held his seventh-place starting position but the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel had dropped to eighth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
At the back there was drama as both Lotus cars and both McLarens collided, bringing out the safety car. Alonso was the only car in the melee to make it through, though he had to pit for a new front wing and new hard tyres.
When the action resumed, Hamilton pushed hard to get past Massa but the Brazilian held his line well and the Mercedes driver was forced wide and off track.
The loss of momentum allowed Bottas to power past the Briton and with four laps gone, it was a Williams one-two ahead of the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg, with Hulkenberg fifth ahead of Raikkonen and Kvyat. Vettel, though, was passed again, this time by Perez. Further back Max Verstappen went off and was forced out of the race.
By lap eight Massa was coming under pressure from team-mate Bottas, though the Finn could not find a way past. The battle between the two allowed Hamilton and Rosberg to close. Hamilton was just 0.7s behind Bottas, with Rosberg a further seconds back.
The battle between the Williams was becoming tense as Bottas radioed through to say he had more pace than Massa. The team initially told the Finn to hold station but then with the Mercedes gaining ground Bottas was told that he could race his team-mate but to make a clean pass if the opportunity presented itself.
Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo was the first make a regulation pit stop, visiting the pit lane from P11 to switch from starting medium tyres to the primer hard compound. He was followed by 10th-placed Sainz who also took the hard tyre.
Raikkonen then pitted for the hard tyre from sixth and was quickly followed by team-mate Vettel on lap 15. The duo rejoined in ninth and tenth, with Raikkonen ahead, and the pair began setting fastest laps on their new tyres. Kvyat then visited the pit lane from sixth position on lap 19, with the Russian also taking on the prime Pirelli compound.
On lap 20 it was Hamilton’s turn to pit from third place. The Briton was stationary for just 2.4s as he took on hard tyres. He emerged in fourth place, just ahead of Perez who had yet to make a stop.
Williams responded immediately, bringing Massa in on lap 20, with Rosberg also called in directly behind the Brazilian. Massa’s stop was marginally slower and the pair went towards the pit exit side by side. Massa eventually made out ahead of Rosberg, but Hamilton had done enough on his out lap to pass Massa.
Bottas then pitted on the next lap and after a 3.2s stop he couldn’t hold the lead and Hamilton surged through to lead the race. Bottas came out behind Massa and immediately came under pressure from Rosberg. The Finn defended hard, however, and managed to hold third.
Rosberg was now facing the prospect of dropping significant points to his team-mate and title rival. His engineer immediately came on the radio and told the German that he was being switched to a different strategy and “to push hard now”. Further back, Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race on lap 23.
The order, at the start of lap 25 saw Hamilton leading Massa by almost three seconds, with Bottas third, less than a second clear of Rosberg. Raikkonen was now fifth ahead of Vettel, with Kvyat seventh in front of Hulkenberg, Ericsson and Sainz.
At the front, on lap 32, Hamilton led Massa by 6.0s with Bottas 7.5s off the leader. Rosberg, meanwhile was some eight seconds off his team-mate.
At the end of lap 33 Sainz ground to a halt just off track at the final corner and the field was put under the virtual safety car.
The restriction ended on lap 35 and Hamilton held his lead comfortably, but around the track umbrellas were going up and drizzle began to fall.
On the following lap Bottas radioed through to say the rain was becoming steadier and that he wanted pit for intermediate tyres but he stayed out, though he began to drop back from Massa and into the clutches of Rosberg.
The rain was seemingly only affecting one side of the track, however, and Bottas was urged to stay out. At the start of lap 38 Bottas struggled at the end of the lap and his car fishtailed across the finish line, while behind him Rosberg lost grip and went well wide.
Raikkonen, who was sixth, was the first of the front runners to pit for inters, on lap 39, though those ahead stayed out. Bottas again lost grip moments later and Rosberg was through to claim third. The German was soon on the tail of Massa and on lap 41 he dived past the Williams driver to take second place.
The rain began to fall again on lap 44 and Hamilton made the brave decision to take on inters. Rosberg stayed out, however, and briefly took the lead. He, too, decided the conditions were becoming untenable on slick tyres and he pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 45 as the rain intensified. The German rejoined in second behind Hamilton.
Vettel, though, had pitted for intermediates on the same lap as Hamilton and the choice vaulted the Ferrari man to third as the Williams cars were forced to run another slow lap on slicks in worsening weather.
The order, with six laps to go, was Hamilton leading Rosberg by nine seconds. Vettel was 24s off the lead with Massa five seconds further back. Bottas was now fifth ahead of Kvyat and Hulkenberg. Raikkonen’s switch to inters in the first fall of rain and the slow laps he had to do as the track briefly dried had cost him badly and the Finn was now down in P8 ahead of Perez and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso who was on course for his first point of the season.
And that was how the order stayed, with Hamilton crossing the line at the end of lap 52 to join fellow Britons Nigel Mansell and Jim Clark as a three-time British Grand Prix winner. Hamilton also broke Jackie Stewart’s 45-year-old record by leading an 18th grand prix in a row.
The win stretches his Drivers’ Championship lead to 18 points over second-place Rosberg, while Vettel cemented himself into third with his sixth podium finish of the season, finishing ahead of the twin Williams cars. Kvyat was sixth ahead of Hulkenberg while Raikkonen held eighth ahead of Perez while Alonso crossed the line in 10th to take McLaren’s second points finish of the season.British Grand Prix, Silverstone – Sunday, 5 July 2015
|6||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull||+63.955s||8|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||+78.744s||6|
|8||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Ferrari||+1 Lap||4|
|9||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||+1 Lap||2|
|10||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren||+1 Lap||1|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber||+1 Lap||0|
|12||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Marussia||+3 Laps||0|
|13||Will Stevens||GBR||Marussia||+3 Laps||0|
|Rt||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||Dnf||0|
|Rt||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull||Dnf||0|
|Rt||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso||Dnf||0|
Fastest Lap – Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 37.093s (Lap 29)