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View from the Pit Lane: British GP

Kimi Raikkonen's collision with Lewis Hamilton caused much speculation at Silverstone.

By Karun Chandhok, C4F1 technical analyst 

The British Grand Prix gave us the second brilliant Formula One race in seven days. There was so much to watch and talk about right from the start to the finish.

Throw in the good weather and capacity crowd, and this became truly one of the best races I can remember at Silverstone for some time.

The biggest talking point was unquestionably the incident between Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap. Lewis and Toto Wolff both made subtle hints questioning whether this was poor judgement or tactics, but once the adrenalin had passed I think they both realised that it was just a clumsy misjudgement of grip from Kimi on the dirty inside line with a fat load of fuel on board.

In France, Sebastian Vettel ended up running into the back of Valtteri Bottas, and that too was a clear mistake from the German – he ended up damaging his front wing, and ultimately that compromised his race and cost him a chunk of points.

Kimi apologised for the error and that was that. I don’t believe there’s any deliberate campaign from Ferrari to hit the Mercedes cars.

What did confuse me was the penalty imposed on him. The stewards decided to give him a 10-second stop-go penalty, which was fine, but I once again don’t fully understand the inconsistency between what happened in Silverstone and what happened at Paul Ricard where Sebastian only got five seconds.

Frankly, I also didn’t see a big difference between what Kimi did and what Romain Grosjean did to Kevin Magnussen at the same corner.

Yes, Magnussen didn’t spin, unlike Lewis, but the actions by the driver down the inside (Kimi or Romain) were similar – and also similar to what Sebastian did in France.

The penalty given to Pierre Gasly towards the end of the race was quite harsh, I think.

Both Checo Perez and the Frenchman are friends of mine, so I’m not picking sides, but if I objectively look at the incident, Pierre’s Toro Rosso was nearly fully alongside the Force India when they made contact and the racing after that was just two hard racers squeezing each other.

When watching it on TV and from the replays, most people in the paddock (apart from Force India, of course) didn’t really think there was going to be any action, so it was a bit of a surprise to see Gasly get a penalty after the race.

The stewards have a very tough job on a race weekend, and having an experienced race driver in there as a Driver Steward is very useful. They now have more defined guidelines as to what penalties to apply to a driver at fault and these are designed to bring greater consistency.

For the most part, it seems to be working quite well but this weekend showed there are still some grey areas.

Strategically, this race came alive with the safety cars.

The Mercedes strategy department has been under pressure since Austria and I was fascinated to see how they would react at Silverstone if and when things became tricky.

In the end, they chose to leave both cars out on used medium tyres when their four major rivals all pitted for new softs under safety-car conditions for the final charge to the flag.

Mercedes, when questioned, will undoubtedly argue that they didn’t have any new softs left so it wasn’t as beneficial to pit, but making sure you have enough tyres left to cover off every scenario in the race where the points count is part of the strategy.

In the end, I think leaving Lewis out was 100% the right call. It gave him track position and his tyre management was better than Valtteri’s in the first stint. That allowed him to finish second instead of what probably would have been fourth or fifth, so it worked out for him.

At the time I thought they made an error by leaving Bottas out and I still believe he would have come out behind Sebastian in second place, with Lewis right behind. They could have swapped the cars around to help Lewis in the championship and had a double podium.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it only cost Bottas one place so it’s not the end of the world, but in a championship battle that’s so close and with two teams so evenly matched, those three points could be critical in Abu Dhabi.

Having a weekend off after a tough triple-header is going to be good, especially for the people who have had a tough run in recent races. I think Daniel Ricciardo needs to strike back in his inter-team battle against Max Verstappen.

Since crashing in Monaco, the Dutchman has bounced back to out-qualify Daniel 4-0 in the past four races and took three podiums along the way, including that win in Austria.

Williams, meanwhile, had a miserable weekend where the rear wing and floor were causing issues when the air had to “re-attach” at the point of closing the DRS, causing both drivers to spin off at high speed.

The team’s aero department really need to have a major think about their direction because, at the moment, it’s not going well.

Stoffel Vandoorne is another man under pressure. I’m personally a bit disappointed for the Belgian. I was a big supporter of his when McLaren signed him up.

His performances in the junior Formula series were brilliant and I spent months telling people last year that he was going to be right up there in the Verstappen/Ocon territory of young future stars.

For whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened for him this year – he’s been out-qualified 10-0 by Fernando Alonso. At Silverstone he looked miles off his team-mate’s pace, and it really does confuse me.

Yes, Fernando is an utterly brilliant double world champion who’s lost none of his speed, but Stoffel isn’t someone I would expect to be so far off his pace. He’s certainly under pressure, with lots of rumours about Carlos Sainz Jnr or Lando Norris replacing him in 2019.

On to Germany next and a return to Hockenheim.

The battle between Ferrari and Mercedes is now super tight and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in a fortnight’s time!

Read more: Stat Wrap - Seb's significant Silverstone success

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