Silverstone shines and Ricciardo dazzles while Wolff walks a fine line

Guardian Web |
1) Silverstone makes its case

The chief executive of the Formula One Group, Chase Carey, has now experienced his first British Grand Prix and will have an understanding of the passion for the sport in the UK. 345,000 fans were at Silverstone over the weekend and they created an atmosphere that is unmatched, their enthusiasm makes for a selling point that the media company that now owns F1 ought to appreciate. But the circuit cannot assume that will be the case nor that the new owners feel obliged to accommodate them.

Related: Lewis Hamilton focused on title race amid questions over his future in F1

Silverstone opted to instigate the break clause on their contract that could see it hosting its last meeting in 2019. They wanted to put their cards on the table early and in public. Carey believes it was posturing and it did not go down well. “The best way to address things like this is privately and not through the press and the public,” he said. “I don’t know why this sport seems to have a history of wanting to negotiate in public.” To which the answer is that it was Bernie Ecclestone’s modus operandi. But that is no longer the case. Silverstone proved once again it deserves ist place on the calendar and now must re-engage with the new owners to ensure it keeps it.

2) Kvyat protests too much

The Torpedo was at it again. Daniil Kvyat took his Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr out on the opening lap. He was given a stop-go penalty and received two points on his licence. The second time in two races – after again rightly being punished for his woeful move in Austria that cost both Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso their race. He now has nine points and three more before October will result in a one race ban. He repeatedly professes his innocence and did so again. Red Bull have said they are likely to retain him for 2018, something that they may now be reconsidering. The former world champion Jacques Villeneuve had lost all sympathy. “Normally drivers don’t even get a second chance – he’s had plenty and he doesn’t seem to learn,” he said.



3) Verstappen earns reward

Max Verstappen had to endure five DNFs from the last seven races and he was doubtless determined to make the best of Britain. Thankfully he did so and he made it to fourth in a Red Bull that has improved but is still off the pace. Better still he did with the dash and verve that has made him so compelling. Having beaten Sebastian Vettel off the line to take third he was in no mood to simply let the German retake the place and scrapped with him for it for the entire opening lap emerging still ahead at its end. The pair then fought right up until the first round of pit stops. Again Verstappen had no intention of surrendering the place and as they went wheel to wheel he earned a cheer from the crowd every time he frustrated Vettel. Better still unlike some of his indiscretions in defending in the past it was fair and well-judged. A lesser driver might have been intimidated into an error but Verstappen handled it with aplomb. He wants to fight at the front but can be happy with being part of a grand spectacle at Silverstone.

4) Ricciardo on fire through the field

Verstappen might not have been expecting to finish in proximity to his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who had started in 19th after a 15-place grid penalty. That the Australian finished one place behind him in fifth was testament to the extraordinary drive he too put in. Hamilton had been serene out front but Ricciardo was putting in the hard miles with the drive of the day in his wake. Not only that but he had to do the job almost twice over. An early charge up the field to 12th was wasted when he went wide and dropped once again back to 18th. He duly set about the task again and pulled off move after move, displaying the commitment and judgment in overtaking that has proved so exciting. Points might have been the target but by the time he dealt with the Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez, the Australian had made it clear he was not satisfied with scraping into the top 10. He too was a key component in making the British Grand Prix fizz.

Related: Lewis Hamilton proud to rank among F1 greats after British Grand Prix win

5) Mercedes shaken but not stirred

Lewis Hamilton answered the criticism for his non-attendance at the F1 demonstration event with a win and a reception from the fans at Silverstone that proved they only care that he is doing the business on track. But his team were caught on the hop by the negative publicity his no-show generated. Indeed, the executive director, Toto Wolff was unusually vehement in is reaction.

“The dynamics [in the team] are great,” he said. “There were some rubbish stories about relationship problems between Lewis and the team or Lewis and myself. We had a chat at the beginning of the week whether it was good to go to the event or not. I think the most important thing is that he feels at ease because that is how he extracts performance on race weekends.”

Hamilton duly made his point but rumours continue that Wolff may have been overcompensating due to suggestions he is courting Vettel to come to Mercedes. He attended the German’s recent birthday party and it has been noted that his first reaction to Vettel’s barge in Baku was wanting to hear his side of the story rather than condemning it immediately. Christian Horner has said he believes Vettel and Wolff have been talking business and if that is the case he may be walking a fine line in keeping Hamilton on side.

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