Vettel puts neck on the line to beat Hamilton in British GP

Vettel puts neck on the line to beat Hamilton in British GP

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Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany crosses the finish line to win the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Pool photo Via AP/Andrew Yates)

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — After laboring with neck pain on Saturday, Sebastian Vettel found the perfect tonic 24 hours later — matching Alain Prost’s total of 51 Grand Prix victories and denying main rival Lewis Hamilton a record-setting win in his home race.

The German defeated second-placed Hamilton on Sunday to win the British GP in front of a partisan crowd and extended his lead in the Formula One championship standings to eight points after 10 of 21 races.

“Sebastian drove a great race, fighting like a lion despite the pain in the neck,” Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said.

Vettel had been hindered by neck pain in the last practice, and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to compete in Saturday’s qualifying session. He acknowledged he had been concerned ahead of the race itself.

“I will feel it a little bit tonight. It doesn’t matter. It held up. The race was fantastic,” Vettel said after claiming his fourth win of the season.

Vettel moved level with Prost on 51 F1 wins, trailing only Hamilton (65) and Michael Schumacher (91).

Hamilton, who started in pole position after setting an electrifying track record to beat Vettel in qualifying, was going for a fifth straight victory in his home race and his sixth overall to beat the record of five he shares with Jim Clark and Prost.

But a poor start and disastrous first lap all but ended his hopes, despite Hamilton’s valiant fightback to finish second.

“Just got wheel spin and lost ground to the others and then just got a tap from behind and that was that,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s aggressive start allowed Vettel and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to streak ahead. Then Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen bumped into the British driver at Turn 3, sending the Mercedes off the track and leaving him last.

“Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side,” Hamilton complained immediately afterward. Later he was quick to say it wasn’t an issue: “I don’t have any concerns.”

The British driver managed to fight his way back after a Mercedes-Ferrari duel developed with Bottas leading until Vettel hit the front again with five laps to go.

Vettel finished 2.264 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

“It was a super start, a super race and, yeah, a hammer finish,” Vettel said.

Raikkonen, who completed the podium for Ferrari, was handed a 10-second penalty for the early incident involving Hamilton.

“That’s how it goes sometimes. Not a straightforward race,” said the Finn, who said he deserved the punishment.

That was no comfort to Hamilton, who quickly worked his way through the back-runners as he posted the fastest lap times.

Driving conditions were ideal under clear blue skies and temperatures well above the seasonal norms, though the heat made tire management tricky for the teams.

Vettel pitted for new tires while the safety car was out following Marcus Ericsson’s crash. The Sauber driver spun off across the gravel into the barriers at high speed. He was able to emerge unaided.

Vettel was left stuck between the two Mercedes drivers as Bottas took the lead.

Hamilton expressed doubt about competing against Ferrari’s new tires but was told over team radio: “Lewis, you are the fastest car by miles. Don’t give up, mate. It’s all there.”

However, questions will again be asked about Mercedes’ tactics after deciding not to pit to replace the tires. Mercedes’ errors cost both Hamilton and Bottas in the Austrian GP the week before when neither finished.

“It was very, very hard with our tires, fighting against people with brand-new tires for sure. And in a perfect world, I would have had new tires – but it wasn’t that kind of day for me,” Hamilton said.

The safety car was out again after Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz collided. Vettel finally pounced to take the lead on lap 47. Bottas then let Hamilton past to challenge the German. Bottas, still on medium tires, was soon struggling, and Ferrari was celebrating when Raikkonen went past to go third.

Bottas finished fourth, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon. Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen was battling with Raikkonen but his race ended at lap 48.

Brendon Hartley’s miserable weekend continued as his Toro Rosso was wheeled back early. The New Zealander crashed spectacularly in Saturday’s final practice.

Sauber’s Charles Leclerc failed to finish for the first time due to a rear tire issue, and Ericsson’s crash completed a race to forget for the team.

The Silverstone circuit was celebrating 70 years since the Royal Automobile Club held a Grand Prix on the former wartime airfield in 1948, when Luigi Villoresi led an Italian 1-2 for Maserati. Two years later, Silverstone held the first F1 world championship race, again dominated by Italian cars with Giuseppe Farina winning in an Alfa Romeo.

“This is the greatest race of the year and this is the greatest crowd and I’m sorry I couldn’t bring it home for you today,” Hamilton told his disappointed fans. “We take it on the chin and believe me, I will not give up. I will not give up.”

Formula One: Vettel wins thrilling British Grand Prix as Hamilton recovers to claim second after crash

Formula One: Vettel wins thrilling British Grand Prix as Hamilton recovers to claim second after crash

Lewis Hamilton staged a superb recovery to claim second after a first-lap crash at Silverstone, but Sebastian Vettel took victory.

Sebastian Vettel won an incident-packed British Grand Prix to pull eight points clear in the Formula One drivers’ standings, as championship rival Lewis Hamilton recovered brilliantly from an opening-lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen to claim second.

During a dramatic finale that saw both Ferraris and the two Mercedes in close competition, Vettel pulled off a spectacular move to get past Valtteri Bottas on lap 47 of 52.

Vettel had conceded the lead to Bottas in the second half of the race when Mercedes opted to gamble and leave both their drivers out on older medium tyres during two safety car periods, as the other front-runners pitted for fresh softs.

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Bottas ultimately lost pace in the closing laps as he slipped down to fourth, but the bold strategy worked well for Hamilton as the Briton completed a superb fightback.

Seeking a fifth successive win at Silverstone, the reigning world champion made a dismal start from pole and was passed by Vettel and Bottas before being hit by Raikkonen at turn three, resulting him in dropping rapidly to 18th.

A 10-second penalty came Raikkonen’s way, yet he still took third and Hamilton fared even better having cut through the field in style following his early struggles.

Hamilton could be proud of his recovery, but Vettel will surely be the happier after extending his lead at the top of the standings with a first win at Silverstone since 2009.

Hamilton's British GP hopes hit by start spin

Hamilton's British GP hopes hit by start spin

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton before the race. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

By Alan Baldwin

SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a fifth successive British Grand Prix victory, and sixth in total, were dealt a heavy blow on Sunday when he tangled at the start with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and dropped to the back of the field.

The Briton started on pole position for Mercedes, with Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel alongside making a clean getaway in front of a 140,500 strong crowd at a sunny Silverstone.

Hamilton was slow off the line, however, and he and Raikkonen came together, with the Mercedes spinning around.

The Finn was handed a 10-second penalty by stewards for causing the collision.

“I think my car’s broken,” Hamilton told his team over the radio, also reporting damage to the right rear tyre although his engineer said the pressure was fine.

“I feel like I’ve lost half my floor,” he added later.

“There may be some damage but we can’t see much at the moment. We are still reviewing,” the team assured him.

Hamilton is only a point behind Vettel after nine of 21 races and had hoped to retake the lead in front of his home crowd.

After nine laps he was already back up to seventh place, but 26.3 seconds adrift of Vettel.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Gasly: Toro Rosso's time loss on straights at Silverstone 'crazy'

Gasly: Toro Rosso's time loss on straights at Silverstone 'crazy'

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Gasly: Toro Rosso time loss on straights ‘crazy’

Pierre Gasly says Toro Rosso’s straightline speed deficit with its Honda Formula 1 engine compared to the team’s midfield rivals is “crazy”.

The Frenchman qualified 14th for the British Grand Prix, as the only Toro Rosso driver to take part in the session following Brendon Hartley’s heavy crash in final practice.

Gasly: Toro Rosso time loss on straights ‘crazy’

Hartley gets fresh engine parts after crash

Gasly said he was pleased with the performance of the car, even if the engine is holding Toro Rosso back.

“The car was mega, but with the long straights at the moment it’s crazy how much time we lose,” he said.

“We knew that on a track like this, with Turn 1 and 9 being flat-out we’ll struggle.

“We’re talking about nine tenths compared to Force India and Sauber, so yeah, very difficult to fight.

“But in the corners, looking at the GPS, we are faster and it looks pretty good, but just on the straights at the moment we are really slow.

“Objectively we have no pace, not coming from the car, but from the engine.”

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Gasly: Toro Rosso time loss on straights ‘crazy’

Gasly added that getting onto the seventh row of the grid was better than he was expecting.

“We were actually surprised to go into Q2 because we lost so much time in the straights since the beginning of the weekend,” he said.

“You cannot recover nine tenths in the corners. In the end it was a good day, but the race will be difficult.

“In normal conditions at the moment we need to find much more straightline speed.

“[The time loss is] only full throttle, straight steering, so in my case except getting lower in the car there is not much I can do.

“In terms of the car I don’t think we can extract much more potential.

“Of course there is this upgrade that we didn’t understand at the moment and hopefully we can extract even more performance from the chassis, but at the moment, clearly the main issue we have is in straightline speed that we are always too slow.”

Hamilton snatches pole position from Vettel for British GP

Hamilton snatches pole position from Vettel for British GP

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after getting the pole position in the qualifying session for the British Formula One Grand Prix, at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England, Saturday, July 7, 2018. The British Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Lewis Hamilton prevailed in a tight battle with Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel to snatch pole position for the British Grand Prix on Saturday.

It’s the fourth consecutive pole for Hamilton at Silverstone, his sixth overall on the track, and his 50th for Mercedes.

“I gave it everything I could, it was so close with the Ferraris,” said Hamilton, whose comeback after being behind Vettel set off celebrations among fans. “I’m so grateful for the support.”

Vettel, who leads Hamilton by one point going into the 10th of 21 races, was faster than Hamilton until the British driver went again to finish 0.044 seconds ahead in a track record at Silverstone.

“It felt like the most pressurized lap I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said. “I’m happy for the fans. I hope I can do it for them tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari finished third, followed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, while Austrian GP winner Max Verstappen was fifth and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo sixth.

Vettel was first to clock a track record and it kept falling as drivers took advantage of soft tires on the new asphalt track.

“This is the fastest track in the world,” Hamilton said. “We’re flat-out through Turn One, we’re flat-out through Copse, it’s insane, to turn in there at 300-and-whatever-it-is-kilometers we’re doing.”

Hamilton will be chasing a fifth straight victory and a record sixth overall in his home race on Sunday.

Both Mercedes drivers failed to finish in Austria due to team errors, and Hamilton was grateful the problems they had in Spielberg have apparently been overcome.

Now it seems the biggest challenge will come from the Ferrari drivers. Raikkonen was less than one tenth of a second slower in final practice earlier Saturday, while Vettel was fastest in Friday’s second practice.

Williams’ woes continued in qualifying when Lance Stroll lost control and crashed out early in the session, with teammate Sergey Sirotkin following suit shortly afterward. The Russian was at least able to drive back to the pit lane, where Williams deputy team principal Claire Harris held her head in her hands.

Williams has only four points this season and Harris acknowledged on Friday she had been “dreading” the team’s home race.

Brendon Hartley, who crashed spectacularly in the morning practice, did not take part in qualifying. The New Zealander was fortunate to emerge unhurt after losing his front left wheel due to a suspected suspension failure, pitching the car off at speed in a shower of sparks and dust before slamming into the barriers.

Sunday’s race is the last one in F1’s inaugural triple-header after the Austrian and French GPs over the previous weekends.

Verstappen feels like Red Bull is missing 70-80 horsepower in F1

Verstappen feels like Red Bull is missing 70-80 horsepower in F1

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Verstappen feels like Red Bull missing 70-80bhp

Max Verstappen says it feels like Red Bull is missing 70-80 horsepower in Formula 1 at the moment, which is costing it one second per lap at Silverstone this weekend.

Red Bull’s two cars qualified a distant fifth and sixth for the British Grand Prix, with Verstappen 0.7 seconds adrift of Lewis Hamilton’s pole time and Daniel Ricciardo 1.2s off the pace after suffering a DRS problem.

“If you miss 70-80bhp you know you’re going to struggle,” Verstappen said after qualifying.

“Also with the cars we have [since the 2017 regulation changes] a few corners became flat-out so it gets more and more difficult.

“A big problem as well is when you go through a corner that’s almost flat and when you accelerate out of the corner our engine is just not pulling.

“You know you just don’t have the horsepower. And when the corners are flat, when you start scrubbing speed because of steering, we lose even more.

“If you lose more than a second on the straights you know it’s going to be a difficult weekend but actually I was quite happy with how the car was performing – I don’t have anything to complain about.

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Verstappen feels like Red Bull missing 70-80bhp

“I don’t know exactly the amount [of horsepower lost] but if you lose more than a second on the straight then you know it’s a lot.

“I’m driving for four years like this. You get used to it. Of course it’s not what you want but that’s how it is.”

Ricciardo added: “There are still going to be some circuits where we can do alright, but any kind of horsepower circuit, now [Mercedes and Ferrari] have got a pretty good buffer on us.

“We kind of feel we’ll make a step forward but then they make 1.5 steps. We’re there but never really there, if you know what I mean.

“In a way I’m used to it and not really expecting we’re ever going to be on their pace in terms of power.

“It’s the reality of these regulations for now, but it would be nice to be a bit closer.”

Verstappen believes Red Bull’s deficit makes the chances of repeating his upset victory from Austria last weekend unlikely.

“In Austria I had a bad feeling after qualifying, I thought we were just not fast enough, but then we surprised in the race with really good pace,” he said.

“Never say never but it’s going to be tough [to repeat]. We’ll try and I think in the race we should be a bit stronger.

“Tomorrow it’s going to be very warm again, hopefully that will be OK for us.”