Charles on the podium after a thrilling finale
Charles Leclerc took his and Scuderia Ferrari’s second podium finish of the season, coming home third. The British Grand Prix had few exciting moments at first, but really came to life on the 50th of 52 laps when a series of tyre failures jumbled up the order.
Start. Charles got off the line really well, to the extent that he briefly took third place off Max Verstappen, but he had to hand it back to the Dutchman at turn 3. Charles then tucked in behind the two Mercedes and the Red Bull, while Sebastian dropped to eleventh. The order did not change, even through two Safety Car periods, the first when Kevin Magnussen went off the track and the second when Daniil Kvyat crashed. After the AlphaTauri incident, both Scuderia drivers came in to switch to the Hard tyre, Charles having been on the Medium and Sebastian on the Soft. Leclerc could not match the pace of those ahead but he was reasonably comfortable when it came to fending off those behind him, so that he was fourth with three laps remaining. Sebastian, who had struggled with pace all weekend, managed to get ahead of Esteban Ocon in the pit stops, but at the re-start he again found himself behind the Renault, dropping back once again to eleventh. The German moved into the points when Romain Grosjean pitted in the Haas to changes tyres, but lost a place when Pierre Gasly managed to pass him.
Last three laps. With three laps remaining, the order at the front was turned on its head: Valtteri Bottas had been second, but he got a puncture which promoted Verstappen to second and Charles to third. The Finn managed to pit and rejoin just behind Vettel, in 12th place. On the final lap, race leader Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz had the same tyre problem. The Mercedes man somehow managed to reach the finish line and win, while the Spanish McLaren driver lost a lot of ground, which allowed Vettel back into the points. In the final corner Vettel defended furiously to keep Bottas on new tyres behind him and managed to bring home the final point for tenth place. Charles podium finish was the 12th of his career in Formula 1 (his seventh third place), while it was number 772 for the Scuderia.
Same again. For the second time this season, in which the World Championship celebrates a landmark year, the F1 circus stays at Silverstone for another race in the blue riband series, the 70th Anniversary Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s an appropriate venue, given that it was here at this track, on 13 May 1950 that the very first race to count for the world championship in this fantastic sport took place.
Charles Leclerc #16
“It was a difficult day, but a good one. I am very satisfied with this result. We know we were a bit lucky, but sometimes these things happen and you need to be there to take the opportunity. I am satisfied with the way in which we have been working this weekend and I am very proud of the team. I am also pleased with my performance, especially with regards to tyre management. It was not easy.
We had a very aggressive downforce level coming here, so we had quite a lot of speed in the straights but difficulties in the corners. I struggled quite a bit to get the tyres to the right temperature, especially after the safety car. Once they were in the right window, things became less tricky though. I think we did quite a good job with the setup and the balance of the car, and it was very nice to drive.
We extracted absolutely everything from the package today. Of course, we don’t want to be fighting for fourth place for too much longer, but at the moment that’s what our car is capable of.”
Sebastian Vettel #5
“That was a very difficult race, because I couldn’t challenge anyone. Many of those behind me were a bit faster and managed to get past, as I was struggling massively to find grip in this car, even though I tried lots of different things this weekend.
I didn’t have the required pace and so my confidence level is quite low at the moment, because I’m struggling to get a feel for the car and every time I try and push, I lose the car. I think we need to have a look at this problem together with the engineers.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
“Mixed fortunes today. On the plus side is Charles’ podium finish. After a good qualifying yesterday, he was perfect in the race, doing an impeccable job of managing the tyres. On the minus side, is Sebastian’s result. Again today, he was clearly not happy with his car: we have to study the data closely to work out why.
We had prepared carefully for this weekend, going for a lower than usual aerodynamic downforce configuration, based on simulation work and development in the wind tunnel and it paid off. We also worked a lot on tyre management, which was a critical factor in this race, as can be seen from the last few laps. Charles did a good job, patiently listening to the engineers, saving the tyres for the entire race.
Today, at least with one car, we got everything out of the package we have, even though it’s a long way off our target. Now we are focussing on next weekend, when we race again on the same track. We will prepare well and try as hard as possible to bring home even more points than today.”