British Grand Prix 2015
McLaren came into their home qualifying session in relative crisis, Alonso's car springing leak after leak and almost failing to make it onto the track at all. In the end he managed 17th ahead of Button and the Manor pair, apparently still with a mechanical problem. Nasr also fell in 16th thanks to teammate Ericsson improving late in the session. Perez, Grosjean, Verstappen (complaining of a huge lack of grip in the Toro Rosso) Maldonado and Ericsson fell in Q2, leaving both Mercedes, both Ferraris, both Williams, both Red Bulls, Sainz and Hulkenberg in the shootout.
Hamilton took a home pole ahead of Rosberg, Williams locking out row 2 and Ferrari row 3. Kvyat, Sainz, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo completed the top 10.
Nasr broke down on his installation lap, compounding his bad weekend as he was forced to sit the race out. Of the remaining 19 cars, only Verstappen started on the hard tyres.
Williams got a rocket start, Massa leading from Hamilton and Bottas. Lotus and Button all had problems on the opening lap with contact, the Safety Car brought out after Grosjean and Button were confirmed retired. Alonso also pitted with a broken front wing, suggesting the McLaren pair had collided like the Lotus drivers. Maldonado then parked the remaining Lotus as well, having been whacked by Grosjean a few corners earlier.
Verstappen made a rookie error and flew off the track at Farm, retiring the Toro Rosso in what was becoming a very high-attrition race. Grosjean and Button were put under investigation for causing a collision, which seemed odd since the two never touched.
Ricciardo stopped on lap 11 while Bottas tried to clear Massa for the lead. Sainz made his first stop a lap later, Raikkonen dropping to 10th on lap 13 in his own stop.
Mercedes sent mechanics out for a lap 14 stop but neither car came in – a dummy for Williams, perhaps? The rules forbid it, but Mercedes already took a reprimand to keep the back of their car a secret this weekend.
Ricciardo reported a loss of power, just one race after both he and teammate Kvyat had to take penalties for a fifth Power Unit element. Meanwhile Bottas was closing in on Massa, desperate to take his maiden win.
Alonso pitted on lap 17, this time for strategic reasons.
Rain was rolling in as well, threatening to add to the challenge for both Williams and Mercedes. Kvyat elected to pit the lead Red Bull, rejoining 10th ahead of Sainz and Ricciardo.
Hamilton was called into the pits on lap 19, both Williams and Rosberg staying on track. A clean stop was needed, and 2.4 seconds was theoretically sufficient. On pit exit Hamilton had to fight off Perez, locking up but taking 4th. Further back, Raikkonen cleared Ericsson for 6th. Massa pitted on lap 20 along with Rosberg, leaving Bottas – seemingly the fastest of the four pre-stop – with 2 laps off Hamilton in terms of the undercut. Massa barely held off Rosberg in the pits, both falling behind the reigning champion.
Ricciardo had to have his engine restarted in his second stop, while Bottas pitted and lost out to Hamilton and, just, Massa. Rosberg nearly scythed into 3rd but Bottas' defending was too strong for him.
A third stop for Ricciardo saw him become the 6th retirement of the race, the Renault motors once again struggling.
Ferrari climbed back to 5th and 6th after the first stops were out of the way, Raikkonen ahead of Vettel. Behind them were Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Perez. Ericsson and Alonso were both a long way from the cars in front as they continued in 11th and 12th.
Williams told Bottas he had been better than Massa at tyre management in the first stint, suggesting a late-race move by Bottas might yet yield 2nd for him.
10-15 laps of rain at the end of the race seemed likely, looking at the weather radars.
Sainz received a warning about his line through Copse, the car apparently deciding the best way to avoid a penalty would be to conk out, which it duly did on the exit of the final corner and brought out the VSC as the clouds loomed ever closer.
Bottas called for inters but wasn't brought in on lap 36. A lap later Hamilton reported the rain stopping, although that seemed to only be in certain parts of the track where the rain hadn't yet reached. Apparently it was wettest in S2 where yellow flags kept briefly appearing.
Rosberg had a look up the inside of Bottas but couldn't make the move. Stevens pitted while Rosberg ran wide on a straight. Ericsson and Alonso also pitted. Hamilton not following. Bottas made a second call to pit but was again rebutted. Behind them Vettel jumped Raikkonen who pitted immediately.
Rosberg took 3rd from Bottas out of Copse after the Williams wobbled on the apex. Hamilton promptly ran much wider at Copse. It emerged that Merhi had also changed tyres. Rosberg managed to return to 2nd with a bold move on Massa. However, that didn't seem to be the end of his charge as he started reeling in Hamilton by more than a second a lap. 1.4 seconds in S1 alone of lap 43. Hamilton bailed on that lap for inters, leaving Rosberg to lead from Massa and Hamilton.
Vettel led a stream of cars also pitting, Rosberg boxing a lap after his teammate. Ericsson had pitted for inters in the first shower, changed back to slicks and now had to pit again for inters while Hamilton re-took Massa. Rosberg's stop left him 2nd as BOTH Williams cars pitted to save another lap on the wrong tyres. Vettel also managed to jump the Grove team's cars. S2 once again saw brief yellow flags. S1 and 3 was also briefly flagged.
Worth a quick mention was Alonso, running 10th ahead of the Manor pair and the dire strategy of Ericsson. Raikkonen's inters had burned out due to the lack of rain in the first shower.
Stevens wandered off the track and lost his wing, slipping behind teammate Merhi.
From 8th place Raikkonen made a late stop for more inters, having eked out a solid lead over Perez.
Hamilton won from Rosberg and Vettel, Massa and Bottas limping home behind them with the rest of the points covered by Kyvat, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Perez and Alonso. Ericsson led home Merhi and Stevens. Retired were Sainz, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Maldonado, Grosjean, Nasr and Button.