Hamilton wins at home as Rosberg is forced to retire
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton won his home grand prix for the second time in his career as team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg exited the race with gearbox trouble. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas took his second podium finish in a row with second place.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished third after switching to a nominal one-stop strategy late in a grand prix that was red-flagged for an hour due to an accident involving Kimi Raikkonen just after the start.
Fourth place went to McLaren’s Jenson Button, the McLaren driver finishing ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando who provided thrilling entertainment in the final third of the race as they battled tooth and nail for position.
When the lights went out for the start, pole position man Rosberg held his lead but second-placed Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing got away poorly. He dropped back to fifth place as McLaren’s Jenson Button moved to second and Kevin Magnussen, in the second McLaren charged through from fifth to third. Hamilton was on the move as well. He made a good start from sixth place on the grid and passed Vettel, the pair banging wheels as the Mercedes driver claimed fourth spot.
Behind the leaders, though, the collisions were more serious. Kimi Raikkonen was forced wide at the start of the Wellington Straight and went off track. The Ferrari driver attempted to rejoin but hit a bump on the edge of the circuit. That sent him into a violent spin and he hit the barriers hard before being flung back on track. Felipe Massa tried to take avoiding action but he collided with the spinning Ferrari.
Massa was able to crawl back to the pits but the damage was too severe for the Brazilian to continue – a disappointing end to the Brazilian’s 200th grand prix.
Raikkonen, meanwhile, was helped from his car but limped away to the medical car. It was later reported by Ferrari that the Finn had suffered some bruising to his an ankle and knee but was otherwise unhurt.
The incident naturally brought out the red flags and there was a one-hour delay until the action resumed again, behind the safety car.
On the new grid, which mirrored the order at the last point available, Rosberg line up ahead of Button, Magnussen and Hamilton. Vettel was now fifth, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. Ricciardo would restart seventh, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Bottas, in the second Williams, had climbed from 14th on the grid to ninth.
When the safety car left the circuit at the restart, Rosberg made the perfect getaway, building a large gap to Button behind as the safety car headed for the pit lane. Hamilton, though, was determined not to be left behind and on lap three he forced an error from Magnussen at Copse and stole third place. He soon went one step further, muscling past Button at Brooklands on the following lap to take second place, five seconds behind his team-mate.
Alonso was also on the move. Having switched to the medium tyre from his starting set of hard compound Pirellis during the red flag period, he was soon making his way through the pack from 13th place. In a startling spell of action he dismissed Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil, Jules Bianchi, Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg to climb to seventh.
However, his race was somewhat compromised soon after when he received a five-second penalty for being out of position on the grid at the original start, the Ferrari driver having overshot his grid slot.
Bottas was also on an incredible charge. The sole Williams took the restart in ninth but by lap 16 he’d scythed his way through the pack to reach third position, powering past Button around the outside of high-speed Stowe corner.
At the front Hamilton closed to within three seconds of leader Rosberg before the German made his first stop on lap 18, taking on used medium tyres. That allowewd Hamilton to take the lead. Rosberg rejoined in second place, ahead of Bottas, Button, Alonso, Magnussen and Vettel.
Hamilton chose to stay out, too, waiting until lap 24 to make his stop. He took on hard tyres but it was a slow stop and he lost time to his team-mate. Rosberg swept back into the lead, with the gap again up to five seconds.
The gap was erased a few laps later, however. Just after his pit stop Rosberg complained of a problem downshifting. The issues seemed to subside but on lap 29 he was back on the radio, reporting a problem with upshifting. He slowed gradually and Hamilton flashed past into the lead. Rosberg attempted a reset but he ground to a halt at turn 13.
Elsewhere, Alonso, made his first pit stop, taking on more medium tyres and serving his five-second penalty. He rejoined in ninth place.
The top-five order, on lap 31 was Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo and Button. Bottas made his sole pit stop on lap 31, and rejoined in third behind Vettel, who needed another stop.
Vettel made that pit stop at the end of lap 33, rejoining behind Button in fifth place, ahead of Alonso. The Ferrari driver piled on the pressure and stole the position through Copse on lap 35.
The pair would spend the rest of the race in a thrilling dogfight, Alonso defending with everything at his disposal as Vettel pushed hard to force an error. Much of the battle was fought on the radio, with both drivers complaining vociferously that the other had exceeded the track limits on numerous occasions. Vettel, though eventually won out, passing Alonso in a heart-in-the-mouth move along the pit straight and through Copse, just inches separating the combatants. Once past, Vettel stretched away, taking fifth place ahead of the Spaniard.
At the front Hamilton continued to open the gap to second-placed Bottas. Prior to his second stop on lap 41 the gap stood at 41 seconds, comfortable enough for the Mercedes driver to make his stop, take on a final set of hard tyres and rejoin in the lead, ahead of one-stopping Bottas.
Third was Ricciardo. The Red Bull Racing driver was on a set of ageing medium tyres but in a good position and with 15 laps to go and 10 seconds in hand over Jenson Button, who was on fresher tyres, he opted to try to make it to the chequered flag.
Inevitably, the gap began to come down as Button closed in. By lap 47 it was down to seven seconds and by the final lap it was down to 1.8s as Ricciardo struggled to keep his 36-lap old tyres alive. The Australian managed it, finishing just eight tenths ahead of the hard-charging Button.
At the front though, Hamilton’s win was comfortable, the Briton taking the chequered flag for his second British Grand Prix win ahead of Bottas, who took his second podium finish in a row.
With Button fourth and Vettel in fifth ahead of Alonso, the remaining points positions went to Magnussen in seventh, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Vergne.