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F1: Hamilton imperious as Vettel cracks

Bryan Edwards

If one could ever say that a circuit has a soul, one must, surely, say that about Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix for almost every running of that race since Formula One was born. And if a soul can be resurrected, to come alive and celebrate, Silverstone did just that. As the F1 circus rolled into town and set up shop, the biggest question was if this would be the last F1 at Silverstone and, even, if there would be a British Grand Prix after 2019. While the terms of the deal are secret, it is likely that the British Racing Drivers' Club, the owners of the former airfield and Liberty, the owners of F1, have done a deal under which the cost of running the race is reduced. The deal makes sure F1 comes home for at least the next five years. Then the grand old dame of F1 shed all her cares and woes and partied and what a party it was..

McLaren's Norris was also compromised by the safety car and finished 11th, far behind where he should have been. It's testament to how close the racing was that a relatively small incident could so hugely compromise a driver that he'd go from 5th to 15th and only be able to pick up four of the lost places in 23 laps. Fans of Indycar, where drivers regularly go to the back of the pack and then somehow appear at the front moments later will be surprised at Russell's disadvantage, especially as the Indycars are so much more technologically standardised. But one has to remember that McLaren have only started to get out of the bottom ranks in the past four or five races. To see one up as the best of the rest is remarkable but it demonstrates that grid position is all important: once at the back, the pace isn't there to get back into position quickly. Sainz finished P6 so the McLaren does have pace to match those around it.

Hulkenberg, in a Renault, was furious with his team for insisting that he stay out on tyres that weren't working and his complaints to the team over the radio on the cool down lap were extraordinarily strong for a public statement. Perhaps he's learning from Alonso's approach in a Honda-powered McLaren.

Special mention must go to Grasley. From "what's he for" to P4. A brilliant finding of form that will, one hopes, continue.

And then there was Leclerc: in qualifying, he said he was happy with his lap and that he had given everything. He was frustrated to be behind Bottas and Hamilton. In the race, he had a ding dong battle that came to an abrupt end when he pitted and lost places in another apparent Ferrari strategy stuff-up that left him very unhappy and his team seemingly fed up with his complaints about them. They told him, effectively, to shut up "it's a long race," he was told, "anything can happen." He finished on the podium, his fourth in a row while his team mate can't match that, even with apparent help from the pits. These days it looks as if Ferrari are more concerned with keeping Vettel happy than with the team getting the best results. But at the end Leclerc was happy: yes, he was third and would have liked more but, as in qualifying, he had, he said, done everything that he could. "It is the race I enjoyed most in my F1 career," said Leclerc. It's his 10th for Ferrari after a full season at Sauber/Alfa Romeo. There's still a long way to go.

Silverstone lives on and this is why. "Ah, I love you Silverstone," said Hamilton as he drove around at sub-safety car speeds, after the race. 140,000 people at the track, tens of thousands in the teams and their suppliers around the track and nearby and many, many millions of armchair pundits and fans of real racing say "Aye."

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