“Meanwhile, at the Weekend: Rosberg wins chaotic British GP; Bird and Lancaster taste home GP2 success”
Formula One, British Grand Prix (Rd 8)
Nico Rosberg won a chaotic British Grand Prix on Sunday, in a race peppered with tyre failures and two safety car stints. The Mercedes racer was helped on his way to victory when previous leader Sebastian Vettel came to a premature halt due to a broken gearbox on lap 43 – Vettel stopping on the start / finish straight brought out the second safety car.
Lewis Hamilton led the early stages of the race in the polesitting Mercedes, until a puncture dropped him to the rear of the field. It was not the end of Rosberg’s fortune – the German pitted with a cut tyre just as the final safety car emerged, preserving his lead, while also taking on fresh rubber. With one Red Bull dismissed, Rosberg then had to fend off the red and blue car to the flag – that of Mark Webber. A poor start had dropped the Australian to 15th; however Webber climbed up the order with some stealth, aided by a fresh set of tyres during the second safety car period. Restarting the final stint in 5th, the Red Bull racer made quick work of Daniel Ricciardo, Adrian Sutil and championship contender Kimi Raikkonen, but could do nothing to pass Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso kept his title hopes alive after a late charge to 3rd. Like Webber, the Spaniard availed of a fresh set of Pirelli’s for the final few laps, allowing him to climb from 8th to a podium place in the final tours. Hamilton drove a stellar race to climb back to 4th – despite some floor damage from his earlier tyre failure – passing Raikkonen as the race drew to a close. During the final safety car period, the Finn was told to stay out by the Lotus team, bringing Raikkonen to 2nd temporarily; however with ageing tyres he could not hold Webber, Alonso and Hamilton at bay.
Felipe Massa also suffered a puncture on his Ferrari. In this instance, the Brazilian recovered to take 6th ahead of the very impressive Sutil – who spent a portion of the race running easily in the top four. Ricciardo also drove a very good race to finish 8th, less than two seconds clear of Paul di Resta, whose impressive run of points continues, despite starting last. Nico Hulkenberg claimed a final, hard fought point for Sauber, pipping the Williams pairing of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
It was not a good day for Pirelli, whose image took multiple hits during the Grand Prix. Following the Hamilton and Massa punctures, Jean-Eric Vergne also suffered a blow-out, bringing out the first safety car.
GP2 Series (Rd 7, Silverstone)
RUSSIAN TIME’s Sam Bird continued to make dents into Stefano Coletti’s GP2 points lead at Silverstone over the weekend, claiming a victory and a 5th place. Series returnee Jon Lancaster grabbed his first win for Hilmer Motorsport.
Bird grabbed the race one lead after a few corners; cutting through a gap as Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr tangled at Village and The Loop, with Coletti following through into 2nd on lap three.
From there, the Englishman extended his lead to just under five seconds, before making his stop; however Bird lost much of his advantage when he emerged behind slower traffic. Coletti pulled the gap to Bird down to less than two seconds by halfway, only for his tyres to begin to fade, allowing the Russian Time to escape for the win.
Stephane Richelmi took the runner-up spot. Staying out until lap 14, the Monegasque racing took to the front, but slipped in behind Coletti, Jonny Cecotto Jr and (eventually) Mitch Evans after the stops. Richelmi dispatched the struggling Cecotto Jr and Coletti, while a stop/go removed Evans from the picture, promoting the DAMS racer to 2nd.
Tom Dillmann completed the podium for RUSSIAN TIME. The Frenchman stayed out until lap 20, whereupon a pitstop dropped him to 6th until fresh tyres allowed him to rise back up the order. Dillmann passed Fabio Leimer on lap 23; however the Swiss driver blotted his copybook after he barged Coletti into retirement on the final lap following a tense battle. Lancaster drove brilliantly to assume 5th, several seconds clear of Jolyon Palmer (6th), Rio Haryanto (7th) and Julian Leal (8th). Several seconds behind them, James Calado (9th) and Alexander Rossi took the final points.
In the Sprint Race, Lancaster jumped the static Leal and Palmer; while a sluggish Haryanto proved no match, allowing Lancaster to lead into turn one ahead of Haryanto and Calado. A brief safety car to remove the stalled Daniel Abt from the circuit did little to shuffle the order and Lancaster drew slowly away once more as the green flags waved, remaining unchallenged thereafter.
Haryanto guided Calado home; however Calado spent a portion of the race fending off Leal, while Bird climbed from 8th to 5th, coming just shy of the Calado / Leal battle at the flag. Dillmann edged an aggressive Nasr over the line by just 0.108s following a late frantic dual. Ericsson grabbed the final point ahead of Rossi in another close run thing at the chequered flag. Questions were raised post-race about the conduct of Sergio Canamasas who was involved in an unnecessary collision Palmer as the latter attempted to lap.