Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth and tenth respectively in this the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. All four of the cars that finished ahead of the Spaniard in his F14 T were Mercedes-powered, underlining the current superiority of the German power unit. Nico Rosberg took his third win of the season for Mercedes, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, while Valtteri Bottas secured his first ever F1 podium finish, in third place for Williams. Despite progress made on the F14 T development front, the other teams are not resting on their laurels, hence the lack of change in the pecking order, on a day when the Red Bulls failed to shine at their home track.
After the start, Fernando who was fourth on the grid, immediately fell victim to Lewis Hamilton, who had charged up the field from ninth on the grid in the Mercedes. As Vettel had a problem in the Red Bull, Kimi was temporarily up one place to seventh. Felipe Massa maintained his lead from pole, while Bottas in the other Williams briefly lost second to Rosberg, only to take it back again on the same lap. By lap 10 of 71, Fernando was having a lonely time in fifth, 5.4 behind Hamilton. Both Ferrari men suffered badly from graining on the Supersoft and their pace improved slightly once they changed to the Softs, Fernando on lap 14 and Kimi on lap 15. In the case, of the Finn, his tyres were very worn by this stage and a slow in-lap dropped him down the field.
At this point, there was not a lot the two Prancing Horse men could do, even if Fernando showed stunning pace, running laps as fast or faster than the leaders in the final stint, after he and Kimi made their second and final pit stops on laps 47 and 44 respectively. If the general feeling after Saturday’s qualifying was that the two Williams would struggle to maintain their front row status in the race, in actual fact Bottas and Massa had a strong pace and the Mercedes duo had to work hard to re-establish their superiority. In the closing stages, Hamilton looked as though he might threaten his team-mate, but Rosberg held him off to the flag.
Mercedes is now on an impressive 301 points, over twice as many as second placed Red Bull in the Constructors’ classification, in which the Scuderia is third. In the Drivers’ Rosberg and Hamilton look similarly dominant, while the battle for third is closer, with Fernando on 79 points closing the gap to Daniel Ricciardo on 83. From a track with fast straights and medium speed corners, the championship now moves to the very different challenge that is Silverstone, where, with just one long straight, but plenty of high speed corners, the teams will face a very different challenge in the British GP.
Marco Mattiacci: “The way this season is going becomes particularly evident when one races at a track where what counts the most is the power of the car. Today, we tried to get the most out of what we have and we believe we have taken another small step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we were unable to demonstrate that with Kimi, who did not have an easy time on this circuit, but we are sure that with the progressive improvement of the car he too will be able to show what he’s capable of. Fernando could not have done any better today. He managed to maintain a great pace for the whole race, at times even quicker than the leaders and this must serve as an incentive to continue developing the F14 T. Overall the gaps are coming down and the number of teams fighting it out behind the frontrunners is increasing. So our aim is to exploit all our potential to be at the front of the pursuing group.”
Fernando Alonso: “I think that I can consider this to be my best race of the season, because finishing eighteen seconds off the Mercedes in a race without a Safety Car or any particular incidents, is a good result. It was impossible to keep Hamilton behind me and fifth place is really the best we could do today, because the first four cars were quicker and therefore deserved to finish ahead of us. We pushed hard all race without any problems, which means that little by little, we are improving. Sure, there’s still a long way to go but the aim is still to do well and score points. Each track is a different story and we will always try our best.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This was another very difficult race for me, despite having gone in a different direction yesterday to try and improve the performance. Unfortunately, it did not bring the improvements I’d hoped for and again here I found myself fighting the handling of the car. At the start I made up one place, but already on the second lap I began to have a problem with the brakes overheating and this meant I had to slow down. At the time of my first pit stop, my tyres were completely worn and on my in-lap alone I lost two places. We should definitely have stopped sooner. Compared to the start of the season, progress has been made, even if there’s still a lot to do as our speed still doesn’t allow us to fight for the top places.”
Pat Fry: “After a good start both Kimi and Fernando struggled a lot on the Supersoft because of graining on the rears which slowed their pace. In this stint, a gap grew to the Mercedes-engined cars which made the most of their superior power down the three straights. Apart from the actual result, we can nevertheless be pleased because in the second and third stints, especially with Fernando, we were one of the quickest cars on track and that shows that, race by race, we are making small steps forward. Kimi struggled more than Fernando and unfortunately, with him we paid a high price for his in-lap before his first stop when the rear tyres were on the limit. Now we must look ahead to the next race in Silverstone, a very different circuit to this one, where we can also expect the Red Bulls to be back on form. As usual we will try and be in the fight and to prepare our car as well as possible for this new challenge.”