Paul Henman formula1 Britain Grand Prix

Britain Grand Prix

Hot on the heels of the Grands Prix in Austria and Spain, it’s Britain’s turn. It’s been a long time since I was last at Silverstone (even longer since I drove the circuit) but it’s still one of my favourite tracks.

The Williams livery for this race looks great – I didn’t realise at first that the Union Flag is made up of the names of all their staff! (Image taken from Williams’ Instagram post)

Free Practice

  1. FP1: NOR (1:27.420), STR, PIA, VER, RUS
    PIA had a hydraulic problem
    NOR nearly ran into a slow-moving Red Bull, driven by (F2 driver) Isack Hadjar
    LEC was delayed by both Aston Martin drivers
    TSU spun, ending up beached in the gravel, causing a brief suspension of FP1
  2. FP2: NOR (1:26.549), PIA, PER, HUL, LEC
    Changes on GAS’ car means he’ll have to start the race from the back of the grid
  3. FP3: RUS (1:37.539), HAM, NOR, SAI, VER
    Overnight rain has removed any rubber put down during Friday’s sessions
    Damp track; intermediate tyres
    GAS spun off, beaching his Alpine in a gravel trap, causing a brief suspension of FP3
    VER pun, completing a 360 but kept it on the track
    Rain getting heavier
    NOR ran wide at Abbey; used the escape road to return to the track

Penalties

  • Red Bull fined €20,000 for not warning rookie Isack Hadjar soon enough to avoid impeding NOR
  • Aston Martin fined €15,000 for STR impeding LEC
  • GAS will start the Race from the back of the grid because the team replace a slew of components; the official doc actually says “The use of each additional element in this case carries a 10 grid place penalty therefore there is an accumulation of 50 places”!
  • RIC received a reprimand for weaving in the Pit Lane in FP3

Qualifying

Air temperature 12°C; track 21°C; humidity 79%
The track is damp but the wind should help it dry out… unless it rains again! (Official forecast: 60% chance of rain)

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
The challenge is whether to wait for the track to dry or go early to avoid the potential rain
The first cars out of the pits are on intermediate tyres, which will help move the water off the line
Haas are holding their pair in the pits; everyone else on track
The clouds are looking pretty threatening, despite the sun shining on the circuit
SAR 1:40.215
BOT 1:39.718
ZHO 1:39.368
OCO 1:39.078
HAM 1:37.759
VER 1:37.518
NOR slides through the final turn, keeping his foot in and just touching the gravel
LEC is the first to switch to slicks – soft tyres
HAM 1:37.134
BOT pits for softs too
Yellow flag – PER in the gravel at Copse
Red flag – Q1 suspended
PER is refusing to get out of the car – he wants the marshals to push him onto the tarmac – IDIOT!
Q1 is delayed while Red Bull’s other petulant driver stomps his little feet
It’s started raining, just as cars begin queueing, waiting for the light to turn green
STR has been noted for leaving the pits when the light was red – that’s a pretty automatic penalty
The fans are putting on rain gear and putting up umbrellas
DRS has been disabled (because of the weather)
Green light; Q1 resumes with just over 7mins left
5mins left; bottom 5 are BOT, GAS, SAR, RIC, HUL
BOT 1:32.431, relegating OCO to P16
HUL 1:31.929
Pit lane incident involving (teammates) ALO and STR – noted
PIA 1:30.895
VER off across the gravel at Copse but returns to the track
It’s raining again… but there’s still a dry line and times are improving
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are TSU, OCO, RIC, PER, GAS
HAM 1:29.547
RIC P6, ZHO P16
ZHO P7, MAG P16
TSU P6, BOT P16
Back of the grid: BOT, MAG, OCO, PER, GAS*
*GAS’ 50-place (yes, fifty) penalty for new components means he was going to start P20 anyway

Red Bull mechanics frantically cleaning out gravel from VER’s car, and no doubt checking the floor for damage
Replay shows STR left his box (right at the end of the pit lane) and was just feet from the pit exit when the light turned red; he probably couldn’t stop, even if he saw the light change

Qualifying session 2
DRS enabled again
ALB 1:27.983
ALO 1:27.652
PIA 1:27.631
(VER P4)
SAI 1:27.540
NOR 1:27.432
(HAM P3)
(RUS P9)
ALO 1:27.279
SAI 1:27.149
PIA 1:26.945
5mins left; bottom 5 are SAR, RUS, TSU, ZHO, RIC
HUL 1:26.847
SAR P4, LEC P11
RUS 1:26.766
ZHO P13
HAM P2, STR P11
NOR 1:26.559
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are STR, LEC, ZHO, TSU, RIC
LEC P7, VER P11
TSU P10, ALO P11
VER P6, SAR P11
STR P10, LEC P11
RIC P15
Middle of the grid: LEC, SAR, TSU, ZHO, RIC

Top 10 shootout is between NOR, RUS, ALO, PIA, HAM, VER, SAI, HUL, ALB, STR
Red Bull mechanics busy under VER’s car again

Qualifying session 3
ALB 1:27.008
VER 1:26.350
PIA 1:26.237
ALO P3
NOR 1:26.030
SAI P4
STR P5
HUL P4
HAM P2
RUS 1:26.024
Order after the first run: RUS, NOR, HAM, PIA, VER, HUL, SAI, STR, ALO, ALB
VER has a twitch on his final flying lap
Chequered flag
ALB P8
STR P8
HUL P5
VER P4
HAM 1:25.990
NOR pits
RUS 1:25.819
PIA P5
Front of the grid: RUS, HAM, NOR, VER, PIA, HUL, SAI, STR, ALB, ALO

That’s all three British drivers in the top 3 grid places!

Provisional grid: RUS, HAM, NOR, VER, PIA, HUL, SAI, STR, ALB, ALO, LEC, SAR, TSU, ZHO, RIC, BOT, MAG, OCO, PER, GAS
Post-Quali Penalties

  • STR received “the minimum penalty recommended in the Penalty Guidelines” for crossing the pit exit line when the red light was on; it’s his second reprimand of the season
  • Aston Martin were under investigation for working on ALO’s car in the pit lane. “Video evidence clearly shows team members placing a jack under the rear of Car 14 and moving its location. This is deemed to be working on the car. However it appeared from video evidence that it is common practice for team members to move cars when in the Fast Lane under a red flag situation, for a variety of reasons and the regulations are currently silent on this matter. In this particular case the action of the team did not delay the session, impede another car nor gain any sporting advantage. Accordingly the Stewards determine to not apply a penalty”

Red Bull have made some component changes on PER’s car overnight, which means he will have to start from the pit lane.

Race

Pit lane is open; drivers can make their way to the grid
Radio from RUS reports the track’s “quite strange”
Radio for SAI telling him “No more rain. Maybe one hour into the race but nothing until then.”
Wow, Hannah Waddingham can really sing!

Air temperature 16°C; track 33°C; humidity 62%
Forecast: 60% risk of rain for the race

Grid: RUS, HAM, NOR, VER, PIA, HUL, SAI, STR, ALB, ALO, LEC, SAR, TSU, ZHO, RIC, BOT, MAG, OCO, GAS; PER starting from the pit lane
Everyone starting on medium compound tyres except ZHO and OCO on softs, and PER on hards

RUS leads everyone (except PER) away on the formation lap
The track looks pretty dry
VER filling NOR’s mirrors, trying to intimidate him before they start
GAS heading into the pit lane; radio says “We have a problem with the car”

01/52: RUS leads into Turn 1
VER around the outside of NOR to take P3

02: RUS, HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, STR, LEC, HUL, ALO, TSU, ALB, SAR, ZHO, RIC, OCO, MAG, BOT, PER; GAS is still in the pits
DRS enabled
ALB has reported a puncture but team says it’s ok

03: RUS fastest lap 1:31.418
GAS has retired the Alpine
Incident involving HUL – leaving the track and gaining an advantage – noted
Radio from SAR reporting “Alex (ALB) had a big piece of body come off”

04: RUS f/lap 1:31.298

05/52: RUS, HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, STR, LEC, HUL, ALO, TSU, ALB, SAR, ZHO, RIC, OCO, MAG, PER, BOT; out: GAS
Replay of the start shows HUL run wide in Turn 1; when he rejoined it caused ALO to swerve to avoid the Haas, and ALB tagged ALO

06: Incident involving HUL – no further action
LEC looks at the inside of STR but backs off

07: There’s rain visible in the distance; a few radio calls suggesting it’ll arrive in about 10 laps time and last about 10 mins
PER takes P17 from OCO

08: STR holding off LEC and HUL

10/52: RUS, HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, STR, LEC, HUL, ALO, TSU, ALB, SAR, RIC, MAG, PER, OCO, ZHO, BOT
Drivers are being told to preserve their tyres, delaying their pit stop until the rain
VER reports his front tyres are fading

11: PIA has DRS behind teammate NOR
Radio for VER telling him they expect a light shower, a small gap, then harder rain

12: RUS over 1sec clear of HAM, but will they try to open that gap to reduce how long HAM has to wait if they pit on the same lap
LEC all over STR’s tail

13: ZHO pits; switches from softs to mediums; rejoins P19
LEC takes P7 from STR

14: NOR has DRS behind VER

15/52: RUS, HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, LEC, STR, HUL, ALO, TSU, ALB, SAR, RIC, MAG, PER, BOT, OCO, ZHO
Radio from RUS asking to know if anyone goes off because the rain’s getting harder
NOR reclaims P3 and the crowd cheer!

16: NOR f/lap 1:30.946
Fans are putting on waterproofs and opening umbrellas

17: PIA now has DRS behind VER
PIA around VER for P4 but the track’s starting to look a little slippery

18: HAM within touching distance of RUS – is he hoping to pass RUS so he can pit first?
HAM takes P1

19: Both Mercedes run wide; NOR catches RUS… and takes P2
DRS disabled
The McLarens seem much more stable in the damp conditions

20/52: NOR, HAM, RUS, PIA, VER, SAI, LEC, STR, HUL, ALO, TSU, ALB, SAR, MAG, PER, RIC, BOT, OCO, ZHO; out: GAS
LEC pits from P7; inters go on; rejoins P16
PIA takes P3 from RUS
PIA closing on HAM
PIA takes P2 from HAM

21: Radio for HAM, “We think it’s time to jump to inters”; “Nope”
SAI under 1sec behind VER but remember there’s no DRS due to the wet conditions

22: Radio from PER, “It’s too dry” (for the intermediate tyres)

23: NOR f/lap 1:30.860
Forecast says more rain in 4mins

24: DRS enabled again
MAG takes P12 from SAR

25/52: NOR, PIA, HAM, RUS, VER, SAI, HUL, ALO, STR, TSU, ALB, MAG, SAR, RIC, BOT, LEC, PER, OCO, ZHO
NOR laps LEC (P16)
Radio for NOR, “This is the beginning of a thirty minute batch of rain.”
LEC runs wide – those inters are totally shot

27: VER and SAI pit; both take on inters; rejoin P5 and P6
The cars are twitching a lot more – it must be time for change tyres

28: NOR pits; inters; P2
PIA stays out, now P1
HAM and RUS both pit; inters; HAM rejoins P3 but RUS P5
VER laps PER 🙂

29: PIA pits from P1; inters; P6
Everyone now on inters

30/52: NOR, HAM, VER, RUS, SAI, PIA, HUL, STR, ALO, TSU, ALB, MAG, SAR, RIC, BOT, PER, LEC, OCO, ZHO
PER pits again; new inters; P17

31: Radio for HAM telling him rain will last for another few laps; HAM says it’s not raining
Radio from VER, “Tyres are degrading a lot”

32: PIA closing on SAI
Radio from HAM reporting “Front tyres are falling apart”

33: Will they put on more inters or switch back to slicks? The track is dry in some places but wet in others
Radio for RUS, “Retire the car”!!

34: RUS pits; he’s pushed into the garage
Does that mean HAM might also have a problem?

35/52: NOR, HAM, VER, SAI, PIA, HUL, STR, ALO, TSU, ALB, MAG, SAR, RIC, BOT, LEC, PER, OCO, ZHO; out: RUS, GAS
Radio for HAM telling him “RUS retired with a suspected water issue”
MAG touched the white line and had a massive slide but managed to keep it on the track
Forecast says rain ending in 6mins

36: HAM reeling in NOR
Radio for NOR discussing which slick tyres to use next
NOR touches the inside kerb and slides through the final turn

37: The sun is out; how long before the track’s dry enough for slicks?
HAM under 2sec behind NOR

38: MAG, RIC and BOT all pit

39: HAM pits from P2; softs; P3
VER pits from P3; hards; P4
PIA pits too; mediums; P5

40/52: NOR pits from P1; softs; P2
SAI pits from P2; hards; P5

41: HAM, NOR, VER, PIA, SAI, HUL, STR, ALO, TSU, ALB, MAG, SAR, RIC, BOT, LEC, PER, OCO; out: RUS, ZHO
HAM f/lap 1:30.318
VER f/lap 1:30.056
PIA f/lap 1:29.913
DRS enabled

42: HAM over 2.5sec ahead of NOR, who in turn is over 3sec clear of VER
NOR f/lap 1:29.793
VER f/lap 1:29.604
PIA f/lap 1:29.574
How long will the soft tyres last? Will VER’s hard tyre come good in time?

43: VER f/lap 1:29.472 – looks like the hards are doing well

44: NOR f/lap 1:29.262
VER f/lap 1:29.105

45/52: HAM, NOR, VER, PIA, SAI, HUL, STR, ALO, TSU, ALB, MAG, SAR, RIC, BOT, LEC, PER, OCO, ZHO
SAR takes P11 from MAG

46: HAM’s lead almost 2.5sec; VER under 2sec behind NOR
ALB takes P9 from TSU

47: VER closing on NOR; how long before he gets DRS?
VER gets DRS

48: PIA f/lap 1:29.049 on medium tyres
VER has DRS again
VER around the outside to take P2

49: HAM 3.3sec ahead of VER
VER f/lap 1:28.952

50/52: HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, HUL, STR, ALO, ALB, TSU, SAR, MAG, RIC, BOT, LEC, PER, OCO, ZHO
HAM laps PER; he’s got LEC then BOT just ahead, which means he should get DRS

51: SAI pits from P5; softs; rejoins still P5 – he’s going for fastest lap

52/52: HAM’s lead 2.5sec
PIA f/lap 1:28.748

HAM takes the chequered flag!
Bono congratulates HAM, who sounds like he’s crying inside his helmet

Provisional result: HAM, VER, NOR, PIA, SAI, HUL, STR, ALO, ALB, TSU; SAR, MAG, RIC, LEC, BOT, OCO, PER, ZHO
DNF: RUS, GAS
Fastest lap: SAI, 1:28.293 on the final lap

It’s interesting that the commentators feel the need to say that it was a “fair” drive from VER – what does that tell you about how he usually drives?

HAM is very emotional, which isn’t surprising – it’s his final British GP in a Mercedes, and his first win in over 2½ years
He’s broken the record for most F1 wins at a single track – this was his ninth win at Silverstone
He spoke openly about the self-doubt he’s had during that time:

The adversity we have gone through as a team and I have personally experienced, the constant challenge, like we all have, to get out of bed every day and give it your best shot. So many times when you feel like your best shot is not good enough, and the disappointment sometimes you can feel.
We live in a time when mental health is such a serious issue and I am not going to lie (and deny) that I have experienced that.
There have definitely been moments between 2021 and here when I didn’t feel like I was good enough, or I thought it was never going to happen again. I have never cried coming from a win. It just came out of me. It is a really great feeling and I am really grateful for it.
Honestly, when I came back in 2022, I thought that I was over it, and I know I wasn’t, and it’s taken a long time to heal that kind of feeling. That’s only natural for anyone that has that experience. I’ve just been continuing to try and work on myself and find that inner peace day by day.

Update on Penalties

  • Williams was fined €100 for ALB speeding in the pit lane on his way to the grid… and then another €100 because he did it again!
  • Red Bull was fined €100 three times for each occurrence of VER speeding in the pit lane before the start!!
  • A heap of drivers had their lap times for exceeding track limits during the race – SAR, HAM, RUS, NOR, LEC, BOT, SAI, RIC, and ALB* (*twice)

…But none of that effected the result, fortunately.

[2024 calendar and driver line-up]

One thought on “Britain Grand Prix”

  1. Interesting piece on the BBC Sports site; it was good to see Andrew Benson remind everyone of the fiasco that resulted in VER’s first World Championship* (it still deserves an asterisk), although I’m sure he’ll be accused of being a HAM fan.

    “A week later, in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton lost the chance to win a record eighth championship after the then race director, Michael Masi, made up the rules as he went along in a late safety-car period.”

    Let’s also not forget that Red Bull blew through the spending cap (and claimed people who are clearly in their garage all the time aren’t part of the team), so they cheated as a constructor and the FIA arranged things so they’d win the driver’s championship. I’m not sure how they can be proud of either “achievement”.

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