KEVIN EASONJuly 8 2018 12:01am The Sunday Times Silverstone unwilling to pay price for staging F1’s greatest showpiece Kevin Eason
10 July, 2018, 08:59
After laboring with neck pain on Saturday, Sebastian Vettel found the flawless tonic 24 hours later - matching Alain Prost's total of 51 Grand Prix victories and denying main rival Lewis Hamilton a record-setting win in his home race. His Mercedes team gambled by refusing to change the Englishman's tyres when the safety auto was first employed, allowing the four-time world champion to partially recover the situation.
Bottas, on old tyres, was starting to wane, and with five laps to go Vettel perfectly executed his move at Brooklands to take the lead.
Hamilton's charge up the field proved that he is a brilliant driver, but also highlighted the difference between the engines in F1. "But doing the opposite was the choice we went for and at the end it brought us a P2 and P4 and I think considering how the race started, we need to accept the result as an acceptable outcome with real damage limitation".
"At the third corner I locked the wheel so I ended up hitting Lewis on the rear corner".
'I was a bit concerned going into the race but we managed to loosen it up a bit and I was fine, probably a bit of adrenaline helped.
As the lights went out, Vettel made a near-perfect start to pull clear into the lead followed by Bottas. It's different when you're in the lead and can control the pace, but I was coming from last. I sweat my arse off in that race.
"I think the first thing we need to understand is where can we improve and where can we engineer", Wolff told Formula 1.com.
Despite Hamilton making insinuations about Ferrari's "tactics" on the podium after the British GP, he clarified on Monday that he now accepted Raikkonen's apology and had perhaps been "dumb" to suggest anything else.
"The more we interact with them, the more we engage with them, the better the sport will be".
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Hamilton added: "We're in a tough battle this year".
The top six, now on the durable medium-compound tyre, settled into a rhythm, with Vettel leading Bottas ahead of Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Raikkonen, but a lap-32 safety auto turned the grand prix on its head after Sauber'sMarcus Ericsson had left his drag reduction system open as he entered turn one, crashing heavily into the barriers. Only 14 cars finished the race, with both Sauber cars stopping early as well as Red Bull's Max Verstappen retiring after 46 laps.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said after the race that he was "not comfortable at all with the incident because it's tiresome being taken out in the first lap".
"The atmosphere this afternoon was incredible: every time Lewis passed, you could hear the crowd cheering above the noise of the cars, and that support probably made the difference today. To put it in James Allison's (Mercedes technical chief) words, this is either deliberate or incompetence".
"It looked very tight at the front on Friday and so it proved in qualifying: it needed a very good lap from Lewis to put the vehicle on pole and, save for an error in the final corners, Valtteri would have been just behind".
"We have got to keep pushing".
"The vehicle performed well in the heat on the long runs and we hope we can achieve the same level of performance, or more, when it counts".
Valtteri defended like a lion but just couldn't hold off Sebastian as the tyres were dropping away - and still did a great job to take P4.
Sebastian Vettel in the post-qualifying press conference at the 2018 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.