Lewis Hamilton took his fifth win around Silverstone at the weekend. He also reduced Sebastien Vettel’s Championship lead to just 1 point. All this thanks to a tyre failure for the championship leader with just 2 laps to go, leaving him 7th. This just a lap after Raikkonen’s tyre started to de-laminate, dropping him down. Ferrari also lost ground on Mercedes in the Constructors championship, now trailing by 55 points.
The tyre failures weren’t the only problem for the scarlet cars. There was a much larger problem during the race. Silverstone is a power circuit, and it is accepted that Mercedes has a power advantage. But the Mercedes cars appeared to have a huge advantage over the chasing Ferraris. Hamilton was over half a second clear in qualifying, something we have seen before this season. However, his race pace was even more devastating. Between laps 18 and 23, he was pulling away from Raikkonen at a rate of 1.23s per lap. Bare in mind, they were on the tyres they started the race on, and this was the end of their stints. Raikkonen would pit on lap 24 for Hamilton following a lap later.
So on old tyres, Hamilton was able to find an average of 1.23s per lap over his Ferrari rival? That has to worry the Ferrari guys. It gets worse when you find that Hamilton still had more time to find. He ended up breaking the lap record on lap 48, setting the bar at 1:30.621. Raikkonen was the fastest Ferrari was 0.9s behind, the 4th fastest car. Hang on, fourth fastest? Yes, while Mercedes and Ferrari have been squabbling, a dark horse has brought down the gap. Or should I say dark Bull, a dark Red Bull. Max Verstappen managed to get within half a tenth of Hamilton’s fastest lap, on the final lap of the race.
Yes Verstappen had pitted 2 laps earlier, but it wasn’t just Verstappen threatening the Ferrari’s. Daniel Ricciardo was on a mission from a poor start. He had worked his way back to fifth, thanks to Vettel’s misfortunes. However, on route to that, he pretty much matched the German for out right speed. The two were separated by just 0.002s in terms of out right pace. When Red Bull are still using re-badged Renault engines which are down on power compared to the Ferrari, is impressive. Almost scary. In theory, Silverstone should be a tough circuit for the Bulls. But to be matching the Ferrari’s on pace, has to worry the Maranello boys.
The same happened in Austria, when Ricciardo was the second fastest car, behind Hamilton and in front of the two Ferrari’s. Ricciardo sits 60 points behind Vettel, which he could claw back if Vettel has more issues this season. The next few races in Hungary, Belgium and Italy, are famous for rewarding a strong engine. If the Red Bull Tag-Heuer engine has closed the gap to the Ferrari and Mercedes unit, they should be some interesting races.