Tuesday, 9th of July 2019, Formula 1 returns to Great Britain, despite speculation to the contrary at the beginning of the season. Now, finally, comes the confirmation: they will run on the Silverstone circuit. The discussions in January put in serious doubt the renewal of one of the most historic Grand Prix of Formula 1, the cradle of the sport. These discussions had been taking place for at least two years and they have found a happy conclusion right on the eve of the Grand Prix. Liberty Media has managed to reach an agreement with the BRDC, the owners of the circuit, and to ensure the presence of this historic circuit in the calendar for at least another five years; to announce it is Chase Carey, CEO and Executive Chairman of Formula 1:
"We are very pleased to confirm that the British Grand Prix will remain on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar for at least the next five years, and that the event will remain at its long-standing home, Silverstone Circuit. We have always said that if we want to give Formula 1 a long-term future, our sport must preserve its historic venues, and Silverstone and Great Britain represent the cradle of the sport, the point from which it all began in 1950. Today, Formula 1 is a global sport, present on five continents, watched by an audience of more than 500.000.000 fans around the world, and our goal is to grow this number by taking the sport we love to new countries, while keeping its roots firmly in place: Silverstone and the British Grand Prix are an integral part of this project".
The counterpart in the words of John Grant, BRDC chairman, adds:
"Silverstone is one of the most iconic Grands Prix on the Formula 1 calendar, and with such a rich heritage it would have been disastrous for the sport and the fans if we couldn't find a way forward. 2020 will be the 70th anniversary of the first Grand Prix being held at Silverstone on May 13, 1950, which will make next year's event even more special. This is great news for the BRDC, for Silverstone and for Formula 1 as a whole, as well as for millions of British motorsport fans".
It's a big relief for the drivers, who are big fans of Silverstone and its background, not least because three British drivers will line up on the grid this year. For them it is their home Grand Prix. These are the words of Lewis Hamilton about the matter:
"It's not a surprise, but the calendar can't exist without the home of Motorsport. Nice for the fans and nice to see how it continues to grow. Five years from now you'll still see me here. Maybe not as a driver, but I'll be there: it's one of the most beautiful races in the world, and I don't want to miss it".
Lando Norris is of the same opinion:
"It would have been a shame to miss Silverstone, it's good to know that there was a renewal".
And finally, George Russell admits:
"There is something special here, I'm not surprised about the renewal".
The words of the English drivers are joined by those of Sebastian Vettel, the last winner of this historic Grand Prix, which best explain the atmosphere that is lived and felt at Silverstone:
"I think racing at Silverstone is special for all drivers because the English track is a very beautiful one, with many fast corners. It is also very technical, especially in the first part, where there are the new curves, even if my preference remains for the old part with the faster ones. For a Formula 1 racer there are few sequences more beautiful than the one formed by Maggots-Becketts-Chapel that introduces the Hangar Straight. I think a driver can't help but like those corners, and I certainly love them. We won here last year and this is also the place where Scuderia Ferrari won its first Formula 1 title a long time ago. Here at Silverstone you breathe in the history of motorsport and also that of Ferrari".
The controversy over the future of the circuit had also been driven by the latest events of 2018. Silverstone is a track present not only in the Formula 1 World Championship, but also in the motorcycle one. It is precisely in the main category of the latter sport, MotoGP, that a great controversy had risen as a result of heavy rains that over the weekend of the 2018 British Grand Prix had prevented the holding of the race. The blame was placed on the asphalt, which was moreover redone earlier that year due to past controversies.
Criticism came more from the world of two wheels, who voiced their doubts about the circuit, the bad drainage in case of rain and the potholes they said were caused by the passage of Formula 1 cars. But in reality, the comments of the drivers of the latter category were not spared either, as Hamilton declared at the time that it was the worst work done. For this reason the owners of the circuit have decided to resurface for the second year in a row the track under the supervision of Dromo of Jarno Zeffelli. The new asphalt does not seem to frighten the drivers, who are also eager to test and compete on it. Mario Isola expresses himself in this regard:
"The Silverstone track has been recently resurfaced and it will be very interesting to see how much this will affect lap times, making this circuit probably even faster. The three compounds chosen are the same ones used in 2018 precisely to best respond to the lateral loads, among the highest of the entire season as well as on other circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka".
Pirelli therefore decided to bring for this weekend the White hard C1, Yellow medium C2 and Red soft C3 tires, the hardest range of compounds despite some complaints from the drivers, raised the previous year.
"The new asphalt and the unpredictable weather will be the two main unknowns this weekend. For the teams it will therefore be even more important than usual to collect as much data as possible in free practice, in order to better define the race strategy".
The asphalt is not the only new element of this weekend, as in fact one of the three DRS zones is missing. In 2018, a new DRS zone was introduced between turns 1 and 2, much defended by Whiting and criticized by the drivers due to accidents:
"I think accidents in Turn 1 are a consequence of a driving choice, just like any other choice made in the car. It's just like any other challenge for the drivers, just like sometimes they try to do it full throttle even if it's not really full throttle. It's the same thing, it's their choice: if they think they can do it, they can try it. It's not an obligation to do it, it's like any other choice made by the team and the drivers".
Last season Ericsson violently hit the wall after activating the DRS, so much so that Hamilton defined this zone as a sort of useless and almost dangerous exercise. So this year the number is back to two, the DRS zone on the Wellington Straight and the other on the Hangar Straight. The rivalry between Leclerc and Verstappen continues after the accident in Austria. The Monegasque does not seem to have yet digested the FIA's decision (which appoints Vitantonio Liuzzi as assistant commissioner for the British Grand Prix; the Italian will hold this role for the first time, in a race weekend). The actions of the past weekend seem to have ignited a spark in the Monegasque, declaring that he is ready to change his attitude on the track:
"At this point I will change my way of racing. And I'm happy: I've always liked to be aggressive on track. In the past much less serious maneuvers than that have been penalized. But now I know that you can drive like that. Wheel to wheel. It's fine with me, on one condition: that in the future the judgments don't change".
In the age of social networks, videos from the past can't help but come back to light, and among these was the clash between the two young drivers when they were still racing karts. The two were already fighting at the time without scruples, a long-standing rivalry and today even more emphasized by the media. Leclerc's words are almost one of defiance more directed at the FIA than at Verstappen, an opponent - considered by the Monegasque driver - like so many others.
"For me he remains an opponent like all the others. I smiled when I saw footage from a few years ago: those contacts when I was a kid, driving karts. Not much has changed since then".
Coming back from a second place in Austria, after a tight fight until the last lap, Leclerc's chances of winning are lower on the English circuit, but the podium is still the main goal.
"I am happy to be back on track at the Silverstone track. This circuit is very nice to drive and offers a series of corners that are really extraordinary for us drivers, especially with these cars with such a high aerodynamic load. The British motorsport atmosphere is also very pleasant, with lots of people supporting us. To be able to start such an iconic race is definitely a privilege. As always we are ready to give our best to get the best possible result. Let's say that this is a track more for Mercedes, at least in this moment. The Red Bulls are also going strong. But that's no reason not to try and aim for the podium. Even success, why not?"
Despite Ferrari's triumph on English soil in 2018, the characteristics of the circuit do not seem to favor the new car. At least, according to what the team principal of the Maranello-based team, Mattia Binotto, said:
"Silverstone is among the most difficult tracks of the season: it is a track on which the car is put to the test for set-up and balance. It is a track on which the tires are also heavily stressed. Here tyre wear plays a fundamental role in the management of the race. We expect that Silverstone is not particularly favorable to our car, although we are aware that at each race the balances are different and sometimes unexpected. Also at the British Grand Prix we will bring another small aerodynamic modification, which shows how much the commitment to the development of our car is continuous. It will be a useful weekend to understand once more if the recent work has allowed us to reduce the disadvantage compared to our rivals on certain types of tracks".
It is difficult to let go of past memories, but Ferrari must focus on the current difficulties in order to return to relive those emotions of joy that follow a victory.
"We won here, at their home. We carry the British flag in Maranello".
It wasn't so long ago that these words were shouted on the radio by Sebastian Vettel after crossing the finish line, yet it seems like a reality so far away:
"It will be difficult to repeat that Sunday. Too many ups and downs this season: let's be clear, they can be. But the conditions are not what they were a year ago. But we must remain optimistic".
The German has gone from being a title contender in 2018 to fighting for third and fourth place this year. The reality that Ferrari is facing can only be an example so that it can then improve. Victory has come close several times, such as in Bahrain, Canada and Austria, yet each time something has prevented them from achieving success. Vettel comments:
"I prefer to focus on the positive aspects: in both races we showed that we can win".
The immediate consequence is to give up the fight for the title, the German's great dream, but the priority now is Ferrari.
"Let's say that the world championship is not my first thought when I wake up in the morning. We have to work to improve Ferrari, this yes: the results will be a consequence. But there are no reasons to give up: I still believe in the possibility of taking the title. We will try, that's for sure".
At Mercedes the mood is completely different. Lewis Hamilton smiles as if nothing had happened, as if the fifth place obtained in Austria was not something that really happened.
"Sincere congratulations to Red Bull and Ferrari, they took a big step forward in Austria. But we'll make up for it here in England, you'll see. And it will be a beautiful race. We could have been closer to the best, without some small problems. But it doesn't matter, let's focus on Sunday's race: it won't be easy at all. The Red Bull with the new engine has found speed, the Ferrari last year on this track had triumphed".
Hamilton loves Silverstone, and Silverstone loves Hamilton. In the event of a victory, it would be the sixth for the British driver on this historic circuit. Nobody like him.
"The records don't interest me too much: if it happens, great, otherwise it's the same. But this is a track on which we have always shown good things. I'm very optimistic".
On July 6th 2019, it is announced that the Australian Grand Prix will open the 2020 Formula 1 season. The event will be held in Melbourne from March 12 to 15, 2020. Announcing this is the said Liberty Media CEO Chase Carey.
"We are delighted to announce that, as has been the case for many years now, the next season of the FIA Formula 1 Championship will take place in Melbourne. The Albert Park circuit is one of the most popular venues on the calendar, much appreciated by everyone involved in Formula 1. The enthusiastic reception from Australian fans makes this round truly unique and special. There can be no better place to start the 2020 season, which will be significant as the 70th year of the sport is celebrated. We are also delighted that Rolex, which has been one of our global partners for many years, will continue to be the title sponsor of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix".
And Australian Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott confirms.
"Hosting the 25th Formula 1 race in Melbourne evokes excitement and interest, and as was stated in 1996: Melbourne - what a great place to race! We have the largest online schedule of any Formula 1 event in the world combined with the quantity and quality of off-track entertainment. It is an event that simply must be experienced. The confirmation of the date provides an opportunity for interstate and foreign visitors to plan an extended stay in Victoria".
Finally, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, McLaren team principal Andreas Siedl confirms the team's willingness to renew the contracts of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris:
"We are very happy with both of them, they are working well together for the benefit of the whole team. They are the future of our team and both their performance and transparency with the team makes us believe that more and more successful years are to come. Lando started his first season in Formula 1, and it was natural to expect some acclimatization time. But he's been impressive since the first race in Melbourne, winning Q3 in his first ever qualifying session, and is now regularly in the position we expect him to be. His performance has also attracted interest from other teams, but we have a multi-year deal with him, and we made the decision to announce it now".
The British driver's comment is enthusiastic:
"It's great news, I can't deny that I had a good hope to stay with the team, but now that I have the certainty of having another year ahead of me it will be one more reason to work hard".
And also the Spanish driver is happy for the news:
"Lando and I are enjoying ourselves, we are having a good season together, and we are obviously very happy to see the progress that the whole team is making. It is an encouraging trend, which gives us concrete hopes for a very good future".
Less than twenty-four hours after the tweet appeared on Rich Energy's official account on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, which would provide for the cancellation of the sponsorship to the Haas team, on Thursday, July 11, 2019, through the words of its team principal, the American-licensed team announces that the contract between the parties is still in place, therefore certainly not closed as written on Twitter. Moreover, it seems that even the shareholders of the company Rich Energy would be eager to preserve the agreement with Haas F1, according to what has been learned through a statement:
"We firmly believe in the Haas F1 team, its performance and its organization. We are fully committed to the current sponsorship agreement and believe completely in Formula 1 and the platform it provides for our brand. It is clear that rogue actions by one individual (William Storey, CEO of Rich Energy) have caused a great deal of embarrassment - we are proceeding to legally remove the individual from all executive responsibilities. This individual will be able to speak for himself, but not for the views of the company".
Changing the subject, and going back to talking about Formula 1, despite the compliments received from Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen admits before the start of the British weekend that the victory obtained in Austria has certainly not overturned the eve's favours towards his team:
"Obviously it's a win, but that doesn't mean we've suddenly become the dominant team. We still need to improve our performance a little bit. It's simply a matter of having the right car to do it, it's very simple. Often in the past I've gotten the most out of the car, but I've finished fifth or sixth. We won because the car worked well, as well as the engine, I managed the tires well and clearly when the car is good, it's easier to manage the tires. In France I was too slow and trying to stay in the Ferrari's slipstream I asked too much from my tires. In Austria it went the other way around, I managed the tires initially so that I had them at the end of the race. It depends a lot on the car. I have always done my best, even in races that ended in fifth or sixth place, performances that are not recognized by most people. With 40 degrees the car works well, we didn't have any overheating problems if we compare with the Mercedes, and in the corners we were more competitive than the Ferrari, so I was able to stay in the slipstream and then take advantage of the DRS on the straight".
While regarding the fight with Charles Leclerc, who is still asked for his opinion, the Dutch driver replies:
"The only reason he opted to go off the track was because he hoped to have that move considered a 'being forced off the track', resulting in a penalty for whoever was on the inside. That is the reason he did it and I don't think it is correct. If it had happened in Turn 4 he would not have stayed there on the outside. The decision was pretty clear. I think the more they talk about it the worse it is. They have to let us run with it".
In the press conference, Lando Norris talks about the recent contract renewal, signed with the McLaren team:
"I'm really excited, it's great news. I think we've been doing reasonably well lately and this news is an added positive bonus. Knowing what I'm going to do next year makes me more comfortable, even if nothing changes. I already know that the team has confidence in me and it's mutual. I wasn't worried, I was confident in the work done so far. The fact that they came forward made me happy. There's a lot of progress to be made, I need to be closer to the person on my right (Hamilton, ed), not just me, but the whole team. We're slowly chipping away at the gap to the guys in front. I'm sure we can get there".
And about the fight with Hamilton in Austria:
"It was good, I was able to pass him in Turn 1. It was very nice of him to let me pass, he didn't force me off the track and left me room. Then he was in a better position in his slipstream and passed me. It would have been nice to fight more for that position, but that's our goal. We want to fight for the podium. I will try in the future to do it again".
"Well I can’t do much better either, (Formula 1 great Nigel) Mansell’s (moustache) was all right".
Norris said. As Hamilton continued to answer the question by talking about his chin candy, Ricciardo was busted sneaking in his direct question to Norris, who was sitting two chairs across from the Aussie. Ricciardo asked:
"Have you got pubes yet".
Not understanding Ricciardo’s question the first time, Norris leaned in as the Aussie asked again in a hushed whisper with his hand covering his mouth. Norris’ eyes then lit up as he responded with a simple:
Before immediately erupting into a giggling fit. With Hamilton still giving his answer, Ricciardo was spotted leaning back in his seat to give Norris’ mid-section a good look over as his British victim continued to battle his giggling fit. As Hamilton ended his answer and a reporter began to ask another question about the youth of Russell and Norris, poor Norris completely lost it as he exploded with laughter.
Norris said pointing at Ricciardo as he burried his head in his hands for a third time, leaning forward on the desk.
An overjoyed Ricciardo said as Norris wiped tears from his eyes while still struggling to keep his composure. With the entire room wanting to know what the hell was going on, it was Russell that took pity on the poor reporter and informed the room the cackling laughter had nothing to do with the question just put to the drivers.
"Don’t worry it’s got nothing to do with your question".
"It’s definitely not suitable for you guys".
Ricciardo then, with a false angelic smile, shrugged his shoulders and said matter of factly:
"I didn’t think it was that funny".
Ricciardo was in a funny mood right from the start of the press conference, telling reporters he won’t be running short of self confidence any time soon, despite also getting used to life as one of the senior figures of the sport.
"I don’t feel like one of the older guys yet".
"I still feel young and sharp and good looking".
"It's pretty normal, I would say. I think it's the same feeling that all drivers get here. It's a privilege to be a Formula 1 driver and the British Grand Prix is the most special Grand Prix of the year because of how many people come here with British flags. There's excitement, adrenaline, pressure. My whole family will be here. There is more pressure than any other weekend. I've had some spectacular races here, I don't know how many I've won, but I'm determined to win again. The last race wasn't good for me, hopefully I'll have a better opportunity".
On what happened at the Austrian Grand Prix, Lewis admits:
"We are not worried. We never start weekends with negative feelings, but we are aware that Ferrari and Red Bull have made a big progress. The pace they've shown has been much better to what we've seen before, so we expect to be very close. Ferrari was already very fast here last year, Red Bull a little bit further back but now with the new engine I think they will be much faster. It's going to be a very interesting weekend".
Regarding the possible record six wins at Silverstone, the British driver admits:
"I'm not one who looks so much at records, for me it's not an extra motivation. I want to stay here for many more years, so for me to be able to do that is surreal. It helps to try and focus on the work you do, we have to be diligent and leave no stone unturned. All the cars have to find an ideal window. We have often been fast on this track, hopefully we can find the ideal window this weekend".
Then, talking about youngsters Russell and Norris, he states:
"I don't think it's necessary to give them suggestions. They've been on a similar path to me and both are doing an outstanding job, both with different challenges to face. George is on a team that's been struggling for a long time, but he's helping them move forward. I'm hoping Williams gets back to the top. It's great to see McLaren back at a level befitting their prestige as well, seeing Lando's progress is incredible, he's consistent and has a good head on his shoulders. I'm excited to see how they grow, I hope to fight with them more often, it's nice to compare ourselves to the young guys".
Looking ahead to the British Grand Prix, expectations of Ferrari seem low. Mattia Binotto has repeatedly admitted that the SF90's performance is the result of a technical project that makes it very competitive on fast tracks and much less so on those with high aerodynamic load, such as the upcoming Silverstone.
"Ferrari hasn't won yet, but that's because we haven't taken some chances. From the ranking, Mercedes seems to be clearly superior, but in reality the distance is smaller. They are ahead because we lost ground in the second half of the season and we still have to recover. We are a young team, many of our people have been in their respective roles for less time than Mercedes. But one thing is certain: we have the right people in the right place".
The free practice sessions held on Friday, July 12, 2019, during the morning are of little relevance to understanding how the cars will perform on the circuit. The weather is uncertain throughout the session: the latter changes constantly and causes some problems, as well as for the new asphalt. During FP1 the best time is set by Pierre Gasly, for the first time in the lead of a session, but Mercedes dominates on the race pace, without showing great difficulties. In the afternoon the Mercedes duo is back to lead also the dry lap times. This time it's Bottas who sets the pace, while Hamilton follows at only 0.069 seconds.
The Ferrari isn't far behind though, as Leclerc manages to stay just 0.2 seconds off the Finn's pace. It's Vettel who has a bit more trouble, being half a second off the best time. Despite the small gap, both Ferrari drivers suffer a lot on the management of the front tires compared to the other competitors. They also present some difficulties in the last three hairpins, where they lose a lot of speed. In FP2, behind Vettel, for a few thousandths of a second of difference, there is a surprise Pierre Gasly, fast in the morning as well, who gives 0.3 seconds to Verstappen, overtaken even by Lando Norris, very competitive on his home circuit. However, it is once again the race pace that makes the big difference. The Mercedes is on another level compared to the competition, running throughout the day at a pace of 1'30"00, a good two seconds faster than the Ferrari, which in turn is even slower than Red Bull and Norris' McLaren. This, despite Max Verstappen being in obvious difficulty, twice finishing the practice session behind his teammate:
"The sensations? Not good, we slipped a lot on track, I'm not very happy with the balance, both in FP1 and in the second session. We still have a lot of work to do".
And it's certainly no consolation the improvement shown by his RB15 in the race pace simulation:
"Race pace to challenge Mercedes? I don't know, I haven't had the chance to see the others' times yet but from my side, with the balance that wasn't good, it's not ideal for race pace, even with so much fuel. For sure here everyone has problems with the tires, because there are so many corners with high energy".
Discreet signs of recovery from Pierre Gasly, who finishes first in FP1 and fifth in FP2. The transalpine's best time is the same as in the morning (1'27"173) and he closes both sessions ahead of Verstappen:
"I'm happy because the day was really positive, the best Friday of the year. We made some changes compared to Austria and now we have a good base on which to improve. We can do better, because my lap in FP2 was not perfect. It will be important not to make mistakes tomorrow when it counts, but the feeling today was really good".
For Ferrari we go back to the starting situation: after a good weekend, new difficulties come out. The car is excellent in the fast lap, but has great difficulties in the slow corners and in the correct use of the front of the car. And, above all, it suffers a lot in the race pace. At the end of the tests, Charles Leclerc comments:
"Today was quite a difficult day for us, we tested quite a few things. I think the qualifying pace is not so bad, but on the race pace we struggled a lot. We have to work on that, trying to improve on the front left, especially, but in general on the front tires. The tires were in a bad situation after the race simulation, they confirmed to be the team to beat, I expected this. I'm pretty sure they still have a lot to show. I'm not satisfied. Maybe I force myself to smile a little bit. This was not a great day for the team in general. We need to work, especially on the race pace. We are quite far behind Mercedes. We'll work on that and hopefully make some progress for tomorrow".
Regarding the new asphalt, Leclerc also seemed to approve of the quality, albeit with some criticism:
"It's very smooth. Maybe a little too smooth, but we drivers are never happy. Ultimately it's very smooth, the grip is incredible, so it's fine, but I like it when it's a bit bumpier".
Finally a joke is also reserved for Red Bull, which according to Horner here can battle again with Ferrari:
"I don't know if he's right. They seem quite fast on the race pace, we maybe have a slight edge in qualifying laps. We'll see, but they are definitely fast".
Vettel confirms what his teammate said:
"I'm not completely happy. It was a complicated afternoon. We tried a couple of things, maybe we will come back, there is some time to think about it. The pace was difficult, I think in FP2 there were ups and downs for many reasons. We tried a few things. I'm not that bothered by one or two particular lap times, it's more of a big picture. Mercedes seemed really fast and is the car to beat, so we'll see tomorrow. We did that today and some things didn't work, so we have to pick the right cards for tomorrow. We tried things on the car and the set-up, and the car seemed pretty nervous. We will choose what to keep and what to take away. The Mercedes seemed very very strong, and it will be a close fight between us and the Red Bulls".
As expected, the characteristics of the SF90 were not ideally suited to the English circuit. Although it is still early to draw conclusions, the first day of testing returned a decent qualifying simulation but some difficulties on the race pace. In this regard, the team principal of Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, comments:
"We knew that Silverstone would prove to be a more complex challenge than the last race, but we are pleased with the progress the car has made in recent weeks. Judging how things will go is difficult, it's still too early. We are focused on the front tires, especially the front left. This degradation can also give problems on the single qualifying lap. We are doing very well in the first and second sector but not in the third. We suffer from understeer. Tonight we will focus on figuring out how to improve these aspects. By finding a better balance we could better judge the performance of the car. In France we brought a new underbody, but it didn't work. Other parts did. We've worked hard to understand what didn't work. Development is a continuous process. After Barcelona, probably our worst performance of the season, we brought a lot of new things. The bottom is just one of the elements we are working on. In the last three races we have scored two poles and could have won two races. It didn't happen, but we are improving. In some tracks things are better because our package can express itself in a better way. As I said, in Silverstone it will be a bit more difficult, but it doesn't mean that we won't try to compete with our opponents. In any case, the weekend is still long and whatever the result of this race will be, there will soon be new tracks and new opportunities to improve".
In addition to advancing the SF90, driver management is a much-discussed topic at Maranello.
"Sebastian is really happy although obviously he would be happier if he won races. But I think his desire is to continue racing and his dream is to win with Ferrari. I see him totally involved in this project. As far as Charles is concerned, I can say that he is getting used to the team and to our working method. He's getting to know his mechanics and engineers better and he feels an integral part of the team. At the beginning of the season everything was new to him. He had already raced one year in Formula 1, but in Ferrari things are different, there is more pressure. He has a very strong teammate and he had to understand how to focus on himself. I see that he is getting more and more comfortable with the team and his performances are improving weekend after weekend. He has also figured out how to get the best out of Q3, learning to recognize how the track evolves starting as early as Q1. As I said at the beginning of the season, the important thing is to bring home as many points as possible. The team comes before the drivers. Sebastian is still the driver who has the most points in the championship, so if there is a 50/50 situation we will give preference to Vettel. Charles is a very fast driver, he has been on pole and had the chance to win races and in those occasions we certainly didn't stop him".
It's a Friday with a few too many difficulties for Lewis Hamilton, who also indulges in some off-track excursions, though without damaging the car, and ends the FP2 session in second position, 0.069 seconds behind his teammate.
"It was quite a windy day, not the easiest possible, but we are still up there and it looks like there will be a battle. It's always hard to tell after the first day, the Ferraris are usually a bit slower on Friday and then they pick up the pace on Saturday. I was struggling with the rear end and went off a few times, Valtteri seemed much more comfortable in the car, so we are going to dig deep trying to figure out what the problem is and how we can fix it for tomorrow. The new track surface is better on the straights, especially between Turn 4 and Turn 6, where it was pretty bad before. It's still bumpy coming out of Turn 7 and towards Copse, but after that it's smoother through Maggotts and Becketts. The asphalt is very smooth, which makes it hard to get the tires to work. They go in and out of the window, and the wind doesn't make it easy".
The only one, along with Lando Norris, who seems to be satisfied with the start of practice is Valtteri Bottas, who comments:
"I had a good day from the start, both in terms of performance and car setup. It's always a good feeling when you start a weekend like this, the track is less bumpy than last year, which is positive. They did a good job on the asphalt and it was a lot of fun to drive".
However, grip remains an unknown to solve for everyone, including Mercedes:
"The new surface has some grip, but sometimes you can lose it suddenly. The car seems quite well balanced, but I think there is still room for improvement. We are fast in the corners and there are a lot of them at Silverstone, so this is a good thing. I still think we will be very close tomorrow and it will be all down to who can find more performance tonight and tomorrow before qualifying, but it's nice to start the weekend on a positive note".
And finally, Lando Norris confesses:
"We're in the top-ten for three Fridays in a row, we've done a good job of making the car comfortable to drive, in the long runs and the short runs. However, there is still work to be done. I made a few mistakes here and there that cost me track time, but other than that it was a productive day".
Saturday, July 13th 2019, in the course of the morning, after a session characterized by a lot of rain in the first half hour and low temperatures, the drivers mark considerable times only in the last minutes. The results lead to hopes of witnessing a very close qualifying. Ferrari seems to have found a solution to the problems encountered on Friday, thanks to a scoop wing that gives more aerodynamic stability to the SF90 and allows to recover those tenths of second that the car tended to lose in the last sectors.
In fact, the best time of the session is set by Charles Leclerc, in 1'25"905, immediately followed by Vettel at only 0.026 seconds. The Mercedes does not suffer much the blow, in fact Hamilton is only 0.049 seconds behind the Monegasque. Behind the top three is the Red Bull, and once again it's Gasly ahead of his teammate by a good three tenths. Despite Bottas occupying only the sixth position, Mercedes has nothing to worry about because of an enviable and unreachable race pace.
Qualifying for the British Grand Prix begins at 3:00 p.m., with the two favorite teams within striking distance of each other, ready to fight for pole position. The weather conditions of the morning could compromise the performance of the cars, but as seen in the last thirty minutes of free practice, expectations are high. The light is green at the end of the pit lane and the first single-seaters take to the track. To inaugurate the first qualifying session with the new asphalt is Lando Norris. The record lap of the circuit still bears the name of Lewis Hamilton, who prepares to re-establish it and to conquer the fifth consecutive pole at Silverstone.
After seven minutes from the start of Q1, in which the middle-low ranking teams mainly try, the times of the three top teams are still missing, next to go for the out lap. Of the three, it is the Ferrari driven by Leclerc that sets the fastest time of 1'25"628. The Monegasque is the first driver to break the track record. Vettel is only fourth. Hamilton immediately re-establishes his record and sets a time of 1'25"513, while Bottas is third. It's already a fight between Mercedes and Ferrari. Leclerc tries shortly after to improve his time and sets the best time in the first sector, soon followed by an equally good second. But the slight disadvantage in the third sector persists, and Charles is unable to catch Hamilton, but reduces the gap to just 0.020 seconds.
With a few minutes to go Grosjean, Stroll, Perez, Russell and Kubica are at risk of elimination, while in the first three positions there are three different teams, with Verstappen who seems to have found a good rhythm again. Grosjean manages to pull himself out of the elimination zone, putting Giovinazzi at risk of elimination. But the Italian improves and climbs to twelfth place, thus excluding Kvyat. The best of the mid-table teams for now is McLaren, which has its drivers in sixth and seventh, not considering Gasly in eighth. The last five drivers do not improve, except for Perez who pushes Magnussen into sixteenth position. Therefore, Magnussen, Kvyat, Stroll, Russell and Kubica do not advance to Q2, occupying positions ranging from sixteenth to twentieth, respectively.
Q2 starts with some difficulties for the Mercedes team. Both drivers complain about difficulties in finding grip in the out-lap. In fact, the temperatures have dropped on the circuit and the radars signal the approach of the clouds loaded with rain. Both Silver Arrows try to cut with the Medium tire, and Leclerc, Verstappen and Gasly do the same. All the other drivers start with the softer compound, including Vettel. The German is therefore on a different strategy to his teammate, and one imagines that he might be able to set a faster time than Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas, Gasly and Verstappen. And instead, despite the fact that the Ferrari is particularly fast, Vettel manages to set only the eighth time, just a few positions away from the elimination zone that includes Albon, Perez, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Grosjean improves and tries to set a sufficient time to ensure the Q3, but fails and remains last.
One minute before the checkered flag the situation on the track doesn't change. All drivers are on track. Among the drivers in the elimination zone Giovinazzi manages to get in the top ten, setting the eighth fastest time, Raikkonen climbs up to tenth place, but is immediately excluded as Hulkenberg sets the seventh best time. Albon manages to enter Q3 with the ninth best time and Norris saves himself by taking the position away from the German Renault driver. Vettel manages to set the fifth best time, despite the use of softer compounds. Also Leclerc, for fear of risking elimination, switches to the use of Soft tires, so for the two Ferrari drivers the race strategy will be the same. Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Sainz and Grosjean are eliminated from Q3. The rookies qualified ahead of their teammates once again, perhaps also driven by the British spirit. In fact, the three - Russell, Norris and Albon - are British, although the latter races under a Thai license.
Q3 is decisive in determining the weekend's pole sitter. The fight is between Leclerc's Ferrari and Mercedes. The first to exit between the two drivers of the Anglo-German team is Hamilton, followed by Bottas. The reigning champion almost loses control of the car in turn 7, but he still sets the best time in T2 and takes the provisional pole position with a time of 1'25"345, but his teammate takes it away from him without hesitation and does not go below 1'25"0 for only 0.093 seconds. Behind the Mercedes are Verstappen, Leclerc, Gasly and Vettel, not the times expected from Ferrari. Still to set the time are the two rookies: Norris scores the ninth time, Albon remains tenth.
With two minutes to go the drivers get ready for the final sprint. Hamilton launches himself followed by Bottas, but the two do not improve, unlike Ricciardo and Leclerc, who even sets the best time in the first sector. Bottas crosses the finish line maintaining the provisional pole position over Hamilton. However, it is Leclerc who improves, setting another record time in T2, but at the end of the qualifying lap he is only third, just 0.079 seconds behind the Finn. For Vettel, qualifying is a big disappointment: sixth, behind both Red Bulls. Ricciardo, Norris, Albon and Hulkenberg follow. The first row is all in favor of Mercedes, with Bottas ahead of Hamilton by just 0.006 seconds. For Bottas it is the fourth pole of the season, this time accompanied by the satisfaction of having taken it away from his teammate on English soil.
"I feel very good, this reminds me why I race, I am always happy when I make a good lap and especially if I get the pole, even if this time the lap was not perfect, in fact I should have improved. The most important thing will be to convert this best time into a success: I have to learn to work more on the race pace. We have been really close so far and I'm happy that the lap time even if not perfect was enough to get the pole. Doing two good laps here is really complicated".
Hamilton loses the pole by a matter of moments and with this also the chance to start from the pole in front of his audience. It was not his best lap, he himself admits to having made too many mistakes and cannot do anything but congratulate his teammate:
"First of all, congratulations to Valtteri because he did a consistent and solid job throughout qualifying, mine was not good enough. We worked a lot during the whole session but we missed something, we missed the way we had to go. Maybe I sacrificed a little something in Q2 and in the end I lacked a little bit of pace and I made a mistake in the first attempt. The second one was not good enough and anyway Valtteri did a better job than me. Hats off to him and hopefully we can beat him tomorrow also with the help of this crowd. For me this Grand Prix is something more. It's the best Grand Prix of the year, also because of the energy that all these people bring to me. This track is fantastic, the track is wonderful but without what these people bring you it would be nothing. That's why the best fans in the world are here in England".
The Briton continued, saying:
"Today I felt better than yesterday, FP3 was good, the first lap in Q1 was great but then it all went wrong. It's unbelievable, I did four, five, six laps but it just wasn't a good day. I'm frustrated with myself, but that's how it went".
Hamilton then, when questioned on the subject, also looked at the strategy adopted by Ferrari, who chose to start on Soft tires for the start of the race.
"It will be interesting. I'm not sure why they chose those tires...maybe for the start, maybe. Yes, it will be interesting to see how the start will go. Last year's start wasn't particularly good for us, I'm hoping for a better one tomorrow. One or two stops? I think they will be pretty close together on the two options. I think in the end it will depend on how long you can make the tires last. Then there's also the possibility of Safety Car and things like that, so we'll see".
The second row is under the banner of the two youngsters Verstappen and Leclerc. The two take the third and fourth position. A masterpiece by the Monegasque, who managed to get to just 0.079 seconds from pole. The Ferrari driver also receives compliments from team principal Mattia Binotto:
"This qualification is all thanks to him".
Very good the Monegasque who manages to stay glued to the Mercedes, despite the difficulties encountered during the weekend. Leclerc comments:
"I am very, very happy with my lap. I think maybe I could have done a bit better in the last corner, but not much. Overall, I think we are very happy with the performance, so close to the Mercedes. We didn't expect it, we thought we would have to suffer more this weekend. We have been fighting since FP1 with the front of the car, also in qualifying but a bit less. So yes, it was a good qualifying session for us. Obviously we were hoping for a better position, but third place I think is pretty good today. Looking at the race simulations from yesterday, I think it will be very difficult the race. Hamilton's run was very, very strong. We need to work on that. Red Bull seems to be very fast in the race as well, so it will be difficult. However, if we can gain some positions at the start, this is a track where it's quite difficult to overtake so we might have some chances. Otherwise, I think it will be very difficult to beat the Mercedes".
Position that cost him the start on medium tires, but he still says he is confident in the strategy:
"It's a strategy we've already adopted in Austria and I think it's a very good idea: I'll try to start very strong and gain as much as possible in the first laps. Then maybe it will start raining...".
Vettel qualifies only in the third row behind Gasly, a weekend full of uncertainties and mistakes for the Ferrari number one. Six tenths separate him from Leclerc and for the third time in a row he can only follow him, data that have given rise to gossip about what his real role in the team is and the hypothesis that Leclerc could replace him, Binotto has been forced for days to answer uncomfortable questions and justify the performance of his driver:
"No, Sebastian is not demotivated. Yes, Sebastian remains with us and he is still the first driver, he is the one with the most points".
On the other hand, he can only congratulate Leclerc and try to understand Vettel's problems:
"For him a difficult day, we will analyze the data in search of an explanation".
The German is aware of his mistakes, but denounces the lack of feeling with the car:
"We kept the same level of times from Q1 to Q3, so we didn't take advantage of the track improvements. This is what we managed to do, nothing more. I didn't exploit the potential of the car, I never improved during the qualifying hour. At least the feeling was better than yesterday, but it's still not enough to be up there with the Mercedes and Charles. Tomorrow it should be a bit better because usually in the race the pace is good and the gap gets smaller. The Mercedes are very fast, I don't think their pace is within our reach. But I think we can play with the two Red Bulls and recover something compared to today. The problem is that we start a little bit too far back. Regarding today's qualifying, it was difficult to do more, but I didn't extract the full potential from the car. And then we lacked the pace".
Regarding the choice of using Soft tires, Binotto comments:
"We were struggling on Friday, and this is a track that definitely suits Mercedes. We managed to solve most of the problems at the front, we continue to make progress. The goal was to start as much as possible in front: tomorrow we bet on the red tires, also because the stops for the change could be more than one".
Nevertheless, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not underestimate the danger and the possible speed of the Maranello cars in the race:
"The challenge came as a bit of a surprise, but in the end in Q3 they went slightly further back and we went slightly further forward. In the first few meters we will have to defend ourselves because our tires will be less competitive, but then we hope to be able to show off our excellent race pace that emerged from Friday's free practice".
Wolff also explains what conditions allowed the W10 to excel on the historic English track:
"The grip has increased, the entire car has warmed up and all of this made the result come in our direction".
The fourth row is occupied by Ricciardo and rookie Lando Norris, while Alex Albon closes the top ten, ahead of Hulkenberg's Renault. The Thai driver manages to bring back the Toro Rosso in the top ten after three difficult weekends, while his teammate is only in seventeenth position. Albon still gives proof of himself, wanting to be recognized among those young people of which so much is spoken lately.
"I'm happy. We have always been in the top ten this weekend, but we knew that the others would raise the level in qualifying. Our balance improved over the weekend. After a couple of tough races, it's really nice to be back in Q3. I'm really happy with the car and I love this track. The car felt good all weekend and as the track started to get more grip, I felt more and more comfortable and was able to get more performance out of the car. Our race pace looked promising in yesterday's FP2 and also on the tire grip we are very confident. We'll see what happens tomorrow, I can't wait for the race to start".
To conclude the starting grid we find Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Sainz, Grosjean, Perez, Magnussen, Kvyat, Stroll and the Williams of Russell and Kubica. The sale of tickets to attend the British Grand Prix is sold out, as expected from one of the most anticipated races of the season: as many as 140,000 spectators will be present along the circuit where, on Sunday, July 14th 2019, to kick off the race will be the son of Charlie Whiting, to honor his father after his passing. The Formula 1 cars are positioned on the grid, and among them the livery of the Red Bulls stands out, in fourth and fifth position, marked 007 in honor of the race #1007 of this world competition, which began in 1950 at Silverstone.
At the start both Mercedes drivers start well, but Bottas manages to keep the lead. Leclerc keeps his position on Verstappen, and tries to stay close to the leading duo, who give each other a tussle. Meanwhile, Vettel overtakes Gasly at the start. Norris is also the author of an excellent start and overtakes Ricciardo, who immediately responds to the young rookie. The two enter Copse together, the fight continues and Norris takes back the position at Maggotts corner. In the back the start is disastrous for the two Haas: between the two drivers of the American team a strong contact is triggered that leads both to stop at the pits and end up at the bottom of the group. Shortly afterwards the first ones will be ready to overtake the Danish driver, who will be forced to retire.
Already during the fourth lap Hamilton tries to overtake his teammate, but Bottas doesn't leave any space and the Englishman is forced to try again with a frightening cross accompanied by the screams of the public in the background. However Bottas has the answer ready and takes back the first position. The battle between the two allows Leclerc and Verstappen to stay close, and in fact - at least in these early stages of the race - the group is very compact despite the difference in race pace seen in free practice. Between the two youngsters, the scenario of Austria is repeated with opposite roles. Verstappen takes every opportunity at his disposal to try to overtake the Monegasque, but his attempts are desperate and almost lead him to crash into his opponent. During the tenth lap, after trying to overtake on the outside of the corner, Max is taken off the track by Charles, just like the Dutchman had done last weekend against the Monegasque.
Vettel takes advantage of this, but he is mocked in turn by Gasly. It's the first time that the Frenchman is so close to his teammate in a race, but right after the overtaking he is called back to the pits to change the tyres. Gasly had started on Medium compound and all the drivers who had mounted Softs had not yet stopped. The Red Bull driver rejoins the race in tenth position. This is a wake-up call for Ferrari, who must immediately react to the Red Bull undercut. As expected, the group of competitors divides into three sections: the two Mercedes, who seem to be running in a championship of their own, Ferrari and Red Bull doing battle, and the rest of the group led by Norris, who valiantly keeps Daniel Ricciardo behind him.
The latter takes example from the Frenchman and stops before the #4, forcing the young rookie to react. At the move of Red Bull, which has prematurely recalled Gasly, also Verstappen and Leclerc respond. On lap 14, the two entered the pit lane at the same time. Now it all depends on the speed of the mechanics during the pit stop. Verstappen's pit is very fast, and the Dutch driver is released just a few moments before Leclerc. The two are again wheel to wheel inside the pit lane, but at the exit Verstappen has the better of it. It seems to be over in favor of the Dutchman, however the new wheels are struggling to find grip with the asphalt, and as if nothing had happened Leclerc is back in front of the Red Bull driver.
A few laps earlier Grosjean is the second driver forced to retire from the race. The Frenchman stopped during the ninth lap, completing just one more than his teammate. Norris, Albon, Hulkenberg and Stroll made their stops, allowing Vettel to move up to third position. The German driver did not respond to the Red Bull team's provocation. Instead, Renault's undercut has an effect, as Norris is right behind Ricciardo. Three laps later Bottas is called to the pits to make his stop: the Finnish driver mounts the Hard tires and at the exit from the pits he joins Vettel, while Hamilton, now leading the group, increases the pace. Leclerc and Verstappen, in the meantime, don't give each other a break: the Dutchman flanks his rival at Brooklands corner, but the Monegasque still manages to stay ahead of his opponent. Undaunted, Max tries again and almost pushes Leclerc to the outside, who aggressively pushes him back.
The turning point comes on lap 20, when the yellow flag is waved due to the presence of a car that has left the track and is in the middle of the gravel. The car is that of Antonio Giovinazzi. A stroke of luck for Hamilton, who takes advantage of the favorable situation to return to the pits and keep the lead. Vettel follows the example and manages to get back on track behind Bottas, mocked by the mistake of the Italian Alfa Romeo driver. Verstappen doesn't miss the opportunity and he too takes the opportunity to make his second pit stop. In Ferrari, the call to Leclerc arrives late, and the Monegasque will stop only on the next lap, losing his position on the Dutchman. During the 23rd lap, the news is given that the Safety Car will return to the pits. At the restart Hamilton starts very well and extends the gap on Bottas by 1.2 seconds.
In the back of the field the fight between Albon and Norris is on, but Norris does not let the Thai driver pass. The fight between the two continues, and the two Renault drivers join the fight, but Norris has the better of it and manages to pass the Toro Rosso, while Albon gets stuck with Hulkenberg in a wheel to wheel. Ricciardo takes advantage of this, taking the position on his teammate, and joins the group. Ricciardo takes advantage of this, taking the position on his teammate, and Perez joins the group, passing inside Hulkenberg. The two make contact and the former loses his front wing. Lance Stroll takes advantage of this favorable situation. The race now sees Hamilton in the lead, followed by Bottas, Vettel, Gasly, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Kvyat and the two Williams drivers. Leclerc is still fighting for fifth position.
A mistake made by Verstappen takes him wide in the corner and the Monegasque driver takes advantage of it, immediately flanking his opponent. Max defends his position, but Leclerc comes in forcefully accompanying the Dutchman off the track, pushing him completely to the outside. Max continues to defend himself, but once again Leclerc gets the better of him. The FIA does not investigate: finally, it is possible to fight without fear of incurring penalties. Without thinking twice, Verstappen tries to regain his position and manages to overtake the Monegasque driver. After that, he overtakes his teammate without any problem and starts chasing Vettel.
Bottas needs a second pit stop that would only lead him to lose even more ground from Hamilton; the same for Norris, who finds himself Ricciardo in his mirrors. Despite more difficulties Leclerc finally manages to pass Gasly on lap 36, a masterful overtaking move on the outside of Luffield Corner and shortly after Verstappen puts on a show at Stowe on Vettel. The German, in an already very difficult weekend for him, makes yet another mistake, when he tries to respond on the straight but misses the braking point and hits the Dutch driver's car, which flies straight into the gravel, hitting the bottom of the car on the kerbs. Vettel is forced to stop to change the nose and the wheels, ends up last and gets a ten second penalty, while Verstappen bravely stays on track, but with a damaged car and behind Gasly.
Norris proceeds with his stop, leaving the way clear to Ricciardo, now struggling with Sainz. Hulkenberg's car seems to suffer and slows down drastically losing positions. In the meantime, Bottas' wheels have given way and the gap from Hamilton lengthens to three seconds. With ten laps to go Lewis is told to stop for the second pit stop, immediately denied because Bottas complains of strange vibrations and takes the priority and with this also the chances to recover Hamilton. Once Bottas has made his stop, this time it's the Englishman who refuses the second invitation to stop, relying totally on his wheels for these last laps. Incredulous about the race he has just run, Leclerc is full of optimism and opens up on the radio to ask about the gap that divides him from Hamilton: twenty-six seconds, too much to do, but still a brilliant result for the young Ferrari driver.
All Hamilton's fans, 140.000 people present along the circuit, stand up. Vettel's cries of joy are long gone. The winner of the British Grand Prix, in this edition, is Lewis Hamilton, at home. Another record beaten by the penta World Champion: this is his sixth success at Silverstone. The Briton overcomes Jim Clark and Alain Prost. A victory that seems almost already written, luck played totally on his side and was personified in Antonio Giovinazzi, who on lap 20 caused the yellow flag that, perhaps, decided the fate of the Grand Prix. The victory is not enough, by now we have learned to know Hamilton, or all or nothing. Therefore, the Mercedes driver takes away the whim of scoring the fastest lap as well and getting the additional point. Just in this regard, it will be funny the comment of the team principal of Mercedes, Toto, Wolff, who at the end of the race states:
"First of all, it was very surprising to see the fastest lap on thirty-one old hard tires. We tend to have a laugh because the engineers have this new presentation in the Sunday morning meeting, where they basically say, you don't have to go for the fastest lap, it doesn't make sense anyway. And then he pulls one out like this. His lap makes all the data a little bit silly, but it's all about his ability".
They were followed by Bottas, first on Saturday and unfortunately second on Sunday, Leclerc, Gasly with his best Formula 1 finish, Verstappen, Sainz, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Hulkneberg, Norris, Albon, Stroll, Russell, Vettel and Kubica.
"Ah, what a day. I love you Silverstone. To all the people, thank you so much for coming out. I appreciated it so much. And to the team, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this".
Hamilton opens up on the radio as he waves the British flag on his lap of honor amid cheers from the crowd. Amidst cheers from his team, the crowd and with the flag hugging him, Lewis heads to Jenson Button's microphones, and comments:
"You never get used to it, even if you win multiple times, the affection of the fans gives you the same feelings as the first home win. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. A win like this is not just for me, but for all the people who came here, friends and family. I'm thankful for the work everyone does. I am a small cog in a big chain, because there really are people here who sacrifice everything. They stay away from their families, their wives and children to make this possible. It's 2,000 people working in spurts. I am extremely grateful to them. Clearly Valtteri and I want to beat each other, but we have to be very careful when we battle and today we were. The final lap? I did the fastest lap on the last one, because I wanted to succeed in that lap that I wasn't able to get yesterday".
The five-time World Champion stretches the gap to Bottas by 39 points and claims Ferrari's success last year. Certainly the Finn has not made a bad impression, from Saturday's pole to the early laps he resisted the pressure of the English champion, but luck did not favor him:
"Congratulations to Lewis. The battle with him was fantastic. We had fun, maybe Toto a little less... I was handling it, I felt I could win. Lewis had to stop after me, but after my first stop I was already starting to gain. I was administering the tires because I knew Lewis would have fresher tires in the final. Then the Safety Car changed everything. I could have won, in fact I can say that I was on the right way to do it, but then the scenario has completely changed. On the positive side, I keep Saturday's pole, it was a great lap. I don't give up now, I prefer to keep fighting".
On the third step of the podium goes Charles Leclerc, creator of his best race in Formula 1:
"The race I enjoyed the most in my whole career. Great. Today was difficult, unfortunately with the safety car I lost some positions. But what good overtaking. The last race, in Austria, made me realize how far we can go: it's nice to be able to do these battles".
Behind the Monegasque is his childhood friend Gasly. For him it is the best placement in his career and the first time in front of Verstappen:
"I can say that I have finally experienced a really positive weekend, right from Friday. The British Grand Prix was absolutely my best race since the beginning of the year. We are fighting with the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers and I can only be happy about that. I had fun. I had good battles with Seb and Charles. A lot of things happened during the race. Currently I still have to work on some details to improve. I need to take that last step forward to finally get my first podium in Formula 1. I'm not that far away from my goal".
Unfortunately, Verstappen has to settle for a fifth position, totally passenger in the accident that saw him involved on lap 36. On the microphones he is much calmer than he had felt on the radio with his blood still warm, indeed boiling at the time of the incident:
"It's a shame for everyone in the team to lose a podium here because the car gave good sensations and we were very fast in the race. The battles with Charles were on the limit but fair, he was defending himself very well. I didn't want to risk too much because the race was still very long and we were clearly faster, so it was just a matter of picking the right moment and it was a lot of fun. The team made a good call with the second pit stop to put me on the hard tire, so we had an advantage over Charles. Then I got a really fast pace and caught up to Seb, passed him and defended in turn 17, but Seb got off the line and hit me from behind. I ended up hitting the curbs and gravel and at that moment I thought the race was over. I honestly don't know how I got the car to the finish line because it looked like the power steering wasn't working and the bottom was damaged, so I'm really happy to finish fifth and score points. I'm not angry but disappointed as it was a difficult race and Seb didn't do it on purpose. He also apologized as soon as I got out of the car, which I respect. I think we put on a pretty good show for the fans today and showed that the sport is anything but boring".
Vettel, a gentleman as always, apologized to Verstappen and took the penalty without argument, admitting his mistake.
"It was my mistake. Obviously I thought there was a space on the inside, however, it didn't open up. It was too late at that point, I was too close and couldn't avoid the accident. Until that point the race was going well. It would have been difficult to defend until the end and keep him behind, but he made a mistake at turn 15 so I thought I could try again, I didn't have much time to choose where to go, but obviously I chose the wrong side. Today the car gave me very good sensations, I was very happy with the pace we had in the race. In this sense I was quite happy. Red Bull surprising? No, already on Friday they looked pretty strong in race configuration, we expected them to be very close to us".
Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, is torn between happiness for Leclerc's result, and sorrow for the events involving Vettel:
"Charles had a fantastic race, because of the way he fights, defends, attacks. We know, he's a driver in this extraordinary and he showed it. He deserved the podium, I think he earned it all. Sebastian made a mistake, he's aware of it, he's sorry for him. We will talk about it. His race pace compared to Charles' was not bad. He takes home at least this positive stimulus. Sebastian is a professional. He is aware of his difficulties, but he is also aware that they are a stimulus for him. We have to help him in this. We have to help him find the car, the set-up, the best balance for his needs. The stimulus for him must be that he had a good pace in the race, especially with worn tires on the softs, and start from there. I think there is nothing to teach him. He knows how important it is not to make certain mistakes, he knows how important it is for the team, for the points. I'm sure he will be able to react on his own".
A third place in an unfavorable circuit must therefore be welcomed with positivity:
"Difficult race for the performance. We knew that Silverstone would be tough. We were positively surprised by yesterday's qualifying, while today we found our difficulties again, with tire wear especially on Charles' car. We analyze them. We are convinced that we are developing the car, we are progressing, but the gap with the others on certain tracks is still high".
Ferrari could not counter Mercedes, which with Lewis Hamilton even managed to conquer the fastest lap with Hard tire used for thirty laps:
"They went really strong, with a balanced car. If someone can do a fast lap like that after thirty laps, it means that the tire wear is homogeneous and has not damaged the tires in any way, something that we don't have. We focus on that and we still work".
It's the first zero of the season for him, as well as the worst race this year. Lando Norris, the great promise of the weekend, also came out disappointed, with an excellent qualifying and a good race, struggling with Ricciardo. Unfortunately, the strategy did not work and he got the worst of it. During the Grand Prix the Safety Car went to his disadvantage, and the timing of the pit stop did not help compared to his opponent. McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl states:
"For Lando, with all the data we had from the tires coming in from the cars, we thought there was a high risk of running to the end of the race. In the end, we wanted to try new hard tires, and then try to give battle towards the end of the race. But it looks like we would have needed five more laps. We made the wrong decision under the Safety Car and didn't pit when we should have. It wasn't a gamble, but we were hoping for a few more drivers to retire at the end, but that didn't happen. In hindsight, the strategy was wrong but it wasn't something we could have known when we made the decision. So I still stand by the team, they didn't do anything wrong. We just didn't make the right choice at the end of the day".
Evidently all the British luck went to Hamilton, leaving nothing for the rookies. Albon was also a victim of Silverstone. A spectacular weekend, he qualified ninth, while his teammate was only in the penultimate row. To mock him was a technical problem of the car. The Thai driver ran 39 laps with the same compounds without the possibility to change them and so he lost the chance to finish in the points. Honda program manager Toyoharu Tanabe explains:
"We received an alert about an electrical problem related to the voltage. We don't know exactly the extent of it, we will investigate to find out what it was. If you get this kind of alarm, you can't touch the car unless the engine is off. There were two alternatives: continue the race without stopping, or let Albon back in, turn off the engine and change the tires. Obviously we chose the first option. In the year and a half I've been here, a problem like this had never happened. This is the first time".
Albon adds to his failed fourth points finish of the season:
"I could see the carcass losing pieces. One more lap and I couldn't have finished the race. But then I managed to do it, albeit with very old tires".
But above all, we applaud the decisions of the stewards, who also in this Grand Prix decided not to intervene in order not to compromise a tough but honest battle between Leclerc and Verstappen.
"To be honest we have adopted the philosophy of letting them run since the beginning of the year. There have been a few wheel-to-wheel clashes, but similar to what we've seen in past events. They were judged in exactly the same way. Silverstone may have made what we witnessed during the Grand Prix perceived as a greater adherence to let them run, but that is not the case. We have maintained the same decision-making policy throughout the championship".
That's the opinion of race director, Michael Masi, who on the occasion of the British Grand Prix is having his appointment extended by FIA president, Jean Todt.
"In yesterday's meeting, President Todt informed me and the FIA team that I will maintain my role until the end of the 2019 season".
In conclusion, Antonio Giovinazzi explains why he was forced to retire:
"We had a puncture, I don't know why. We have to analyze the car when it returns to the garage. I'm certainly not happy with this day, because I was close to Kimi and he finished eighth. We could have picked up some points, but that's how it went".
The tenth Grand Prix of 2019 closes between fortunes and misfortunes. Hamilton stretches on Bottas and adds advantage to his personal title race, while in Ferrari two completely opposite atmospheres clash: if on the one hand Leclerc shines, on the other Vettel seems to have switched off. Ultimately, it seems to be a World Championship whose outcome is already written, with only ten races to go. But this does not make it any less interesting than others.