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British GP wrap: 'Hammer time and the Lauda factor'

2016-07-12 07:17

Egmont Sippel

TRIUMPH AT SILVERSTONE: 'In spite of cars flying off the track the British GP delivered another cracking race,' writes F1 guru Egmont Sippel. Image: AP / Tony Marshall

England - Every GP should have a greasy patch on the entry to a very fast corner. That much we learned at Silverstone, when almost half the drivers had at least one massively lurid moment into Turn One.

The tired old man from Ferrari had three.

All of them survived, except the Manors, which brings us back to our promise (in the Bahrain review) to mention Haryanto again. The young Indonesian has now outqualified his much vaunted team mate, Mercedes protégé Wehrlein, five times in ten events.

As it happened: 2016 British GP

And still at the back of the grid: Carl Haas passed away on Thursday. The well-loved Yank, forever with a fatter-than-Bill-Clinton cigar in his mouth, was a colourful character with a penchant for shoes, of which he had more than Imelda Marcos. 

His team could now do with Carl’s fastest pair of running shoes. 

But back to Silverstone. In spite of cars flying off the track left, right and centre in Abbey – or perhaps because of it – the British GP delivered another cracking race. 

Lewis Hamilton, yes, stitched up pole after his first run in Q3 was dramatically deleted. And Hamilton, yes, duly won.

But it was far from boring, especially as the Young Turk, Verstappen, and the Old Dog, Alonso, put in scintillating drives. Nico Rosberg was slow in the wet part of the race again (more brake trouble?); the 18 year old from Holland was as impressive as ever, pulling off a stunning pass on Rosberg’s outside at Chapel, with Rosberg repaying in kind by passing Max Verstappen on the outside of Stowe; Williams was slow again; and Ferrari disappointed. Again. 

Vettel nowhere to be seen

After being outqualified by his tired old team mate – and losing another five places due to gearbox failure, his third grid penalty of the year – Sebastian Vettel was nowhere to be seen in the race, except when he made one of numerous mistakes. 

A lack of downforce on the scarlet cars, his tired old team mate explained. Or has Kimi Raikkonen  been rejuvenated by the extension of his Ferrari contract, at least temporarily? What a surprise, in any case, for Raikkonen to be signed by Maranello yet again, although it is easy to see why. 

Vettel forever complains over the radio when somebody (like Kvyat in China) races him hard. The last thing he wants, is for his team mate to do likewise – like Daniel Ricciardo did in 2014, at Red Bull. 

So, is the same going to happen to Daniel, at Red Bull?

Ask Niki Lauda. He always has an opinion, if not an answer. After Austria, Lauda said on Servus TV that Hamilton damaged his driver room after crashing in Baku quali, and that Hamilton lied when he claimed (before the race) that his relationship with Rosberg has improved to the point of being “really, really good”.

In the run-up to Silverstone, Mercedes issued a statement “clarifying” the comments of its chairman. “Niki Lauda would like to set the record straight,” it pompously announced, before going on to deny that Hamilton had damaged a room or lied about his relationship with Rosberg.

“Niki regrets any misunderstanding caused by (his) comments...”

Huh? Did Hamilton do it, or not? If so, Lauda should not have mentioned it on TV. And if Hamilton didn’t do it, Lauda lied. Period.

In both cases, he should be fired – which is what we said in our review of the Spanish GP.
Or perhaps he should be kept on, for the same reason that Raikkonen will continue to race for Ferrari. F1 is a circus, after all. And we do need some comic relief from time to time, like The Flying Finn riding on his own wing.


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