British GP 2019 review: F1 entertains at Silverstone

Published: 15 July 2019

► Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2
► Vettel takes out Verstappen
► Leclerc 3rd 

It seems most of the internet decided F1 was broken after the French GP – but what a couple of races we've had to prove everyone wrong. After a thriller in Austria with a – shock-horror, non-Mercedes win, things were expected to calm down in Silverstone. With fast, flowing corners – a track layout that leans towards the Silver Arrows, and also reduces the ability to follow – surely the British GP was to be another snorefest?

On paper it was another Mercedes one-two, but in reality it was another fantastic GP. So then, the reports of F1’s death are greatly exaggerated. Here’s everything else we learnt.

Hamilton wins again

The records keep falling for Lewis Hamilton, and the British GP saw him storm his way to another. Hamilton’s win on Friday saw him win the UK fixture for a record 6th time, but it also saw him extend his championship lead to 39 points – with 25 given out for a race win.

And one other thing, that lead would’ve been 38 points, but a fastest lap on his very last tour – on old, hard tyres – meant he also snagged an extra point. Hamilton has now won 70% of races this year. 

Mercedes cars duel at the front

Mercedes is still letting its drivers race, and for a while that was the most exciting thing about this year’s British GP. Although Bottas got pole by just 0.006 seconds on the Saturday, it looked to be Hamilton’s race from the first lap; the Englishman was able to crawl all over the back of Bottas, and the Finnish driver didn’t seem able to pull away. 

For most of the first stint, Hamilton parked behind his teammate, crawling over the 77 car at every turn – and even getting by briefly a few times. It meant that despite being a few seconds ahead of the rest of the race, there was still a mammoth battle for the lead. 

Of course, a Safety Car meant Hamilton didn’t actually have to pass his team mate, but the signs of a clear pace advantage were there. 

F1 is in good hands

After the race at the front faded, Silverstone saw another meeting of F1’s two most exciting properties: Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. This bout wasn’t as violent as the last one – where Verstappen forcefully but fairly took the win – but both drivers had their elbows out from the beginning. 

However, the racing was hard but respectful and there was no shower of carbonfibre or time penalties awarded. If this is the future of F1 – combined with Lando Norris and George Russell in top cars – then the sport is ready for another golden era. 

Vettel’s errors continue 

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel is in a bad patch, and one that arguably began the moment he slid off the track in Germany this time last year. For whatever reason, the German always seems to be a few laps from his next mistake, and he made another clanger in Britain.

After being passed by Max Verstappen, Vettel appeared to try and re-pass the Red Bull and outbrake himself. The result? An airborne Red Bull, both cars heading towards the gravel and a ten second penalty for the Ferrari driver. 

It’s important to point out that Vettel immediately apologised for the move immediately after the race, but it’s another error he shouldn’t have made. In a season with a constantly improving team mate and title-rival unstoppable form, it seems as though Vettel is going backwards. Surely talk of his retirement will only increase. 

Gasly saves himself

Gasly was impressive in the Toro Rosso last year – one of the reasons he was worthy of a Red Bull call up, but in 2019 he just hasn’t been anywhere near his team mate. That changed this weekend with strong performances on Saturday and Sunday and a solid 4th place in the race – albeit thanks to Verstappen’s misfortune. If Gasly can keep this up, then he will be at Red Bull next year after all. 

McLaren keeps getting better

Carlos Sainz Jr’s 6th place confirmed McLaren’s newfound form, and the team’s emergence as the best of the rest. It’s been a tough three or four years for the Woking outfit, but Norris – who is only getting better – and Sainz who is also constantly improving, it’s clear things are on the up. McLaren’s recent form will surely give hope to the grid’s other ailing independent outfit – Williams. 

Haas scores 0

If it isn’t trouble with sponsors off the track, it’s a total lack of pace on it: that’s been the problem for the Haas team this year, and at Silverstone things only got worse. The team believed it made something of a breakthrough on Saturday, but it never got to find out – both cars hit each other early on in Sunday’s race, with footage appearing to show Grosjean at fault. That meant two DNFs and no point for Haas again, and surely no drive for Frenchman next year, either?

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast