Hamilton’s Silver Arrow slid into 1st but the real Silverstone Superheroes of 2015 was Massa and Bottas making this British race a classic for the future!
While the Mercs did manage yet another 1-2 finish, they had a bit of luck and even so, they had to really fight for it as the Williams boys dominated the earlier parts of the race.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Massa jumped both Hamilton and Rosberg from his 3rd grid position and Bottas tried to follow suit and slotted himself in between the two Mercedes drivers after a battle with Hamilton. The excitement continued further down the grid as Alonso spun into the side of Button and ending his race early and activating a safety car which bunched up the front runners and allowed Bottas to jump Hamilton at the restart! Not even the most optimistic Williams fans would have dared predict that!
Other early casualties worth mentioning include Grosjean, Verstappen, Maldonado and Nasr (whose car actually broke down before the race even started), while Alonso did continue after his ding-dong with the other cars and managed to bring home one much-needed point for the McLaren-Honda team.
After initially asking their drivers not to race, Williams changed tack as Bottas received the radio message “It has to be a very clean move and you have to pull away once you’ve passed” – essentially saying IF you overtake you have to do it with no risk and then deliver a winning gap. At the same time, Massa was told he was allowed to race Bottas and the Brazilian didn’t give his Finnish team mate an inch. Great defensive and fair racing.
Seeing the Williams race ahead, Mercedes grew a little desperate and did a “dummy”, which is technically against the rules, as they pretended to get ready for a pit stop. The intent was to trick Williams into going in to the pits early however; Sir Frank has been in this business a long time and Williams didn’t bite.
When the real pit stops started, Hamilton was the first in and Mercedes pulled out a lightening stop which effectively handed him the lead once Massa, Rosberg and Bottas completed their stops, while Rosberg got stuck running in 4th.
Then came the rain
…and with it, Rosberg finally managed to overtake Bottas and Massa. Different teams had different ways of interpreting the situation and some went straight in to put on intermediates while some stayed out on slicks.
The rain subsided and commentators were quick to doom those on inters as having misjudged their strategy but the last 7 laps turned wet again and Hamilton managed to judge the situation perfectly and go to intermediate tyres at the right time, causing him to jump ahead even further to the delight of the British crowd.
Oh, and Rosberg, probably realising the devastating effect finishing 4th would have on his championship chances, finally got aggressive on the last laps and jumped from 4th to 2nd.
What happened to the Ferraris?
They both had a pretty bad start and for Kimi, it didn’t get much better as he completely misjudged the rain and dropped from 6th to 9th as a result. Meanwhile his team mate Sebastian Vettel managed to take his Ferrari from 5th to 3rd through sheer strategic mastermindry. How can Ferrari get it so wrong for one driver and so right for another?