Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix for the third time in front of his home crowd. He fought back against falling rain, team-mate Nico Rosberg and a threatening drive by the Williams duo who took the lead in the early stages. Rain hit in the last 20 laps, which gave an opportunity for Rosberg to attack, but a perfect stop allowed Lewis to equal Nigel Mansell and Jackie Stewart as 3-time winners of their home race. The rain also allowed Sebastian Vettel to jump the Williams pair to take 3rd place.
It seemed only fitting that despite Great Britain being in the midst of a heatwave in the run up to the British Grand Prix, the drivers were met with slight cloud overhead as they rolled up to the grid. Lewis Hamilton was hoping to get a much better start from pole position than he had in Austria. This was put in jeopardy as he reported he wasn’t happy with his practice start.
His concerns were correct, but thankfully his team-mate Rosberg had a similarly bad start. The two Williams on the second row vaulted both Mercedes drivers on the run into turn 1, with Massa taking the lead of the race. Bottas drew alongside with Hamilton, but he couldn’t prise to position away from the British driver as he fought back on the inside of turn 4. Bottas did keep 3rd ahead of Rosberg despite the German being all over his gearbox, this was due to a safety car deployment after both Lotus and McLaren cars hit each other simultaneously; forcing the retirement of both Lotus cars and Jenson Button.
The safety car came in at the end of lap 3, with Lewis Hamilton right on the back of Felipe Massa as they went racing once more. Hamilton locked up massively into Vale and ran wide, leaving the door open for Valtteri Bottas to jump up to 2nd. Despite this, it was great to see a driver actually attempting to gain a position on a race restart contrary to previous races.
Felipe Massa continued to extend his lead, setting the fastest lap in the process. However he soon started to fall into the clutches of team-mate Bottas and the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg. Bottas soon got to within DRS range of the leader, with Hamilton also gaining at the same time. Bottas was clearly faster than Massa, but the Williams team ordered Bottas to maintain position for now; seemingly ending a hope of a race between them.
This wasn’t the case however, as Bottas ignored the orders and tried a move at the end of the hanger straight. The team requested that he not race him once again, but Bottas said that he would try and make a clean move on the straight to not risk their 1-2 position. Williams gave in and gave permission from Bottas to have a go. A few more attempts on the hanger straight followed, but Massa continued to hold the lead.
Pit-stops were beginning around lap 15, with Vettel pitting in the midst of his battle with Daniil Kvyat. At the same time, Mercedes bought their crew out into the pit-lane, but neither driver ducked in at the end of the lap; possibly a ploy to lure Williams into the pits before them.
The leading quartet remained out on track, with Bottas soon right on the back of Massa once again. His closest chance came on lap 17, with Valtteri just getting slightly alongside Felipe in the middle of Stowe, but the move once again didn’t stick. Behind them, Lewis Hamilton pulled into the pit-lane. The two Williams drivers stayed out, with the next lap looking crucial to decide the race.
Massa and Rosberg pitted on the next lap, with the pair side-by-side as they exited pit-lane. Unbelievably however, Hamilton managed to under-cut them and get ahead of them by almost 2 seconds. Bottas came in at the end of next lap, but he too was behind Hamilton who had put in a magnificent 2 laps to take the lead of his home race. Bottas couldn’t get out ahead of his team-mate either, but he just managed to hold onto 3rd around the outside of Rosberg at turn 4.
Hamilton began to relentlessly pull away in the lead of the race, extending his lead to over 6 seconds with 20 laps to go. It wasn’t going to be that simple for Lewis however, with rain scheduled to hit the track. It was made more difficult by the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car. This was due to Carlos Sainz pulling off track at the final turn with a mechanical issue. This kept the gap between all the drivers constant whilst the Toro Rosso was recovered.
The Virtual Safety Car period ended mid-way through lap 35, but at the same time the crowd started reaching for their umbrellas. The rain was starting to fall. Slight drizzle hit first, but it wasn’t hard enough to warrant a pit-stop straight away. Lewis Hamilton was reporting that the rain had actually stopped, but Vettel would beg to differ as he struggled to round Luffield. Suddenly the rain began to pour in the middle sector, Rosberg just kept it on track down the old start/finish straight. Still the front runners didn’t pit, the only takers were Will Stevens and Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton had his first off-track exploit at Copse, with Rosberg passing Bottas on the exit of the same turn a few seconds later. The rain soon seemed to have subsided, with those who stayed out on their dry tyres looking to have weathered the storm. Rosberg had soon caught up with Massa for 2nd place, with the brief deluge hurting both Williams drivers. Rosberg pulled off a great lunge up the inside of turn 3 to take 2nd place.
A second wave of rain soon approached and Rosberg was approaching the back of his team-mate in the lead. On lap 43 he took over a second out of Hamilton’s lead in sector one alone. The rain began to fall even more, with Lewis jumping into the pits for intermediates. It was perfect timing for him as the rain poured down as he pulled out of the pits. Rosberg pitted at the end of the next lap, but he’d lost so much time on his in-lap that Lewis now had a 9 second lead.
The rain had jumbled up the fight for 3rd, with Sebastian Vettel pitting on the same lap as Hamilton for intermediates. Williams pitted the next time by, perfectly double stopping both Massa and Bottas. Nevertheless, their extra lap had cost them 3rd and 4th, with Vettel jumping up ahead of them to take the final spot on the rostrum with less than 10 laps to go.
After two perfect pit-stops to usurp the Williams drivers and then the rain, Lewis Hamilton had built up an 11 second lead as he started the 52nd and final lap of the race. He coasted his way through the final few corners to take his 3rd win in the British Grand Prix; extending his championship lead to 17 points over 2nd placed team-mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton even attempted a doughnut on his lap back to the pits as he waved to the crowd.
Sebastian Vettel returned to the podium for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, with the two Williams drivers perhaps licking their wounds after coming home in 4th and 5th having led early on. Bottas would perhaps be ruing the team’s early decision to not let him overtake Massa, with the Finn coming home behind Felipe at the checkered flag.
Daniil Kvyat put in a great drive to take 6th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India; who gave the new Force India car a promising debut in 7th. Kimi Raikkonen’s premature intermediate tyre stop cost him a few positions. He came home 8th ahead of Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso; who brilliantly took his first point of the year in 10th place despite colliding with his team-mate on lap 1.
7 drivers failed to make the finish, with Button, Grosjean and Maldonado all retiring on lap 1. Both Toro Rosso drivers retired during the race, with Max Verstappen spinning off into the gravel at turn 2 before team-mate Sainz retired his car later on. Daniel Ricciardo was an additional retiree with engine issues, with Felipe Nasr the final non-finisher having suffered mechanical issues on his lap out of the pits before the race even started.
2015 British Grand Prix results: