Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2014

Hamilton will need help from pitwall to catch Rosberg

2014 British Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2014The 2014 Formula One season just had its fourth rain-affected qualifying session of the year, though we are yet to see rain play a role in a race.

That is not currently expected to change during tomorrow’s British Grand Prix. Rain is forecast for Sunday but not until later in the afternoon, a few hours after the chequered flag has fallen.

This is more bad news for Lewis Hamilton because, as expected, rain during this morning’s final practice session kept him from completing that all-important simulation run on a racing fuel level.

Worse, for the second race in a row he will line up several places behind his team mate having slipped up in qualifying. Bailing out of his last flying run in Q3 means he will start from sixth on the grid while Rosberg has a clean view ahead of him.

The start

Hamilton was only the most high-profile of several drivers who were wrong-footed by Saturday’s capricious weather. Daniel Ricciardo could have been on the front row but starts ninth, but that pales in comparison to the Williams and Ferrari drivers who didn’t even make it out of Q1.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have been the most consistently impressive starters in the field this year, so watch out for the Williams pair surging forward on the first lap.

However McLaren’s drivers, who achieved their best qualifying result of the season so far with third and fifth, have been among the weakest cars off the line this year. That’s good news for Hamilton, whose chances of getting on terms with Rosberg will be greatly improved if he can get past either or both of them.

The winding opening sequence of corners at Silverstone, which was used for the first time three years ago, often invites contact between drivers. It also present two good chances to make up positions at the start, with the heavy braking zone at Village followed by the long run down the Wellington Straight into Brooklands.

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Strategy

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Silverstone, 2014As Q2 finished on a drying track the fastest drivers were all running on the softer medium tyres, so the top ten qualifiers will all start on the same rubber tomorrow, providing the race starts in dry conditions.

This is the third race this year where Pirelli have brought their hardest tyre compounds. In Malaysia and Spain the medium compound was the preferred tyre for the race, and that looks likely to be the case again this weekend.

Following the Austrian Grand Prix, where Hamilton finished second to Rosberg after lining up ninth on the grid, Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said Hamilton had lost the chance to win in qualifying. That was because the team’s strategic options in Austria were limited, but that may not be the case tomorrow.

Pirelli expect strategists to reduce the running on the hard tyre to to a minimum – little more than half a dozen laps on a two-stop strategy. They also suggested some teams may prefer a three-stop strategy, which would involve making a last-lap pit stop to put on the hard tyre compound (as drivers are required by the rules to use both).

Although this would leave drivers more vulnerable to traffic, it could prove exactly the kind of attacking strategy Hamilton needs to take the fight to Rosberg. A first pit stop before the 20-lap mark would indicate a three-stop strategy, anything later than that would point towards a two-stopper.

It would be a gamble for Hamilton to take, but given Mercedes’ dependable performance advantage over the rest of the opposition, arguably one worth considering.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’40.380 1’35.179 (-5.201) 1’35.766 (+0.587)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’45.086 1’36.410 (-8.676) 1’37.386 (+0.976)
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1’39.791 1’36.579 (-3.212) 1’38.200 (+1.621)
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’41.271 1’37.112 (-4.159) 1’38.329 (+1.217)
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1’42.507 1’37.370 (-5.137) 1’38.417 (+1.047)
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’41.058 1’34.870 (-6.188) 1’39.232 (+4.362)
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1’42.146 1’37.350 (-4.796) 1’40.457 (+3.107)
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1’44.710 1’38.166 (-6.544) 1’40.606 (+2.440)
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’41.032 1’36.813 (-4.219) 1’40.707 (+3.894)
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’43.040 1’37.800 (-5.240) 1’40.855 (+3.055)
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’43.121 1’38.496 (-4.625)
12 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’41.169 1’38.709 (-2.460)
13 Max Chilton Marussia 1’42.082 1’39.800 (-2.282)
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’43.285 1’40.912 (-2.373)
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1’43.892 1’44.018 (+0.126)
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1’42.603
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’45.318
18 Felipe Massa Williams 1’45.695
19 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’45.935
20 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’46.684
21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1’49.421
22 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1’49.625

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Nico Rosberg 29.304 (1) 38.966 (2) 26.017 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 29.887 (6) 39.773 (7) 26.525 (3)
Jenson Button 29.642 (3) 39.408 (4) 26.612 (5)
Nico Hulkenberg 29.993 (8) 40.240 (9) 26.692 (8)
Kevin Magnussen 30.011 (9) 40.459 (10) 26.900 (10)
Lewis Hamilton 29.366 (2) 38.740 (1) 26.008 (1)
Sergio Perez 29.866 (5) 39.709 (6) 26.540 (4)
Daniel Ricciardo 29.720 (4) 39.169 (3) 27.051 (11)
Daniil Kvyat 29.918 (7) 39.543 (5) 26.625 (6)
Jean-Eric Vergne 30.224 (11) 39.972 (8) 26.654 (7)
Romain Grosjean 30.851 (15) 40.641 (11) 26.897 (9)
Jules Bianchi 30.702 (12) 40.928 (12) 27.079 (12)
Max Chilton 30.809 (13) 41.807 (13) 27.184 (13)
Esteban Gutierrez 30.814 (14) 41.891 (14) 27.407 (14)
Pastor Maldonado 30.091 (10) 42.676 (16) 28.881 (16)
Adrian Sutil 31.707 (18) 41.978 (15) 28.783 (15)
Valtteri Bottas 31.912 (19) 43.778 (20) 29.628 (18)
Felipe Massa 32.163 (20) 43.559 (18) 29.973 (20)
Fernando Alonso 31.202 (17) 43.660 (19) 29.907 (19)
Kimi Raikkonen 30.983 (16) 43.339 (17) 28.965 (17)
Marcus Ericsson 33.190 (22) 45.429 (21) 30.802 (22)
Kamui Kobayashi 33.178 (21) 45.704 (22) 30.743 (21)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 325.3 (202.1)
2 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 323.9 (201.3) -1.4
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 323.4 (201.0) -1.9
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 321.8 (200.0) -3.5
5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 321.8 (200.0) -3.5
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 320.8 (199.3) -4.5
7 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 317.8 (197.5) -7.5
8 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 317.7 (197.4) -7.6
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 317.6 (197.3) -7.7
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 317.1 (197.0) -8.2
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 316.0 (196.4) -9.3
12 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 315.7 (196.2) -9.6
13 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 315.0 (195.7) -10.3
14 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 313.8 (195.0) -11.5
15 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 312.5 (194.2) -12.8
16 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 311.7 (193.7) -13.6
17 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 311.5 (193.6) -13.8
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 310.6 (193.0) -14.7
19 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 309.6 (192.4) -15.7
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault 309.5 (192.3) -15.8
21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 309.1 (192.1) -16.2
22 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault 295.8 (183.8) -29.5

Over to you

Is this going to be a straightforward run to victory for Rosberg – or can Hamilton take the fight to his team mate from sixth on the grid? And how will Williams and Ferrari fare from their compromised starting positions?

Share your views on the British Grand Prix in the comments.

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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Williams/LAT