COMMENT: 7 & 8 July 2018 – British GP & Iowa IndyCar

A really good pair of races this week!

  • F1 – British GP, Silverstone;
  • Indycar – Iowa 300, Iowa Speedway;

I must admit, being tired from not sleeping due to the ongoing heat and humidity made it hard to concentrate at times.

This blog appears late courtesy of the World Cup! I don’t usually follow football other than international tournaments and this one swept me along.

Formula 1: British Grand Prix

Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England

Grid top 10: Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Grosjean, Leclerc, Ocon;   (Stroll, Sirotkin and Hartley all started from pitlane)

Tyres were Soft (yellow), Medium (white), Hard (blue). All started on Soft except for four on Medium: Hulkenberg 11th, Sainz 16th, Stroll pitlane, Hartley pitlane;

Hamilton fluffed his start (wheelspin) so Vettel immediately took the lead, Bottas getting by through the sweeps of turns 1 and 2. Unfortunately Raikkonen locked up under braking, ran into Hamilton and accidentally punted him into a spin. Lewis 18th, Kimi behind the Red Bulls in 6th, he later got a penalty. Somewhere in the chaos Grosjean dropped from 8th to 13th, this’ll be important later.

At the same time, Perez lost the back of the car at turn 1 and spun across the pack, just missing everyone else, including the Williams cars exiting the pitlane!

Amazingly enough by lap 11 Hamilton had overtaken his way up to 6th. A combination of Mercedes’ extra power, the extra 3rd DRS zone, and of course Hamilton’s talent and reputation as a decisive passer. It looked ridiculously easy and perhaps it was. The extra DRS zone here made it so that a faster car could just sail past and drive away. The guys in the slower cars couldn’t fight and they knew it so didn’t bother. They had their own races to run.

The gap from Magnussen to the Red Bulls was already fairly substantial, a measure of the advantage the top six cars enjoy. Once he caught the faster cars though, the DRS allowed Hamilton to get close enough to make an overtake. In the past a faster driver in an equal car would get stuck behind it and you’d get a procession. Now it got the Ferraris and Mercedes close together and let the drivers sort it out.

The same DRS solution and two very different outcomes. Is the trade-off, cutting through the field easily and the fastest four or six cars a minute ahead of the others, worth it if we get the close wheel-to-wheel racing among front-runners we saw at the end? Perhaps it is.

Pit strategy was again key. When the leaders came in Hamilton stayed out and was now between Vettel and Bottas – a lap later Bottas on his new tyres was ahead of Hamilton who came in a little later.

By lap 30 there was a mega scrap for the lower points between Hulkenberg, Ocon, Alonso, Magnussen and Sainz all covered by 4 seconds.

Safety Car on lap 32 for Ericsson hitting the wall hard at Abbey. Thankfully the tyre wall did its job and Marcus was out of the car fairly quickly.
Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen took the opportunity to pit – with the pits not closing and the field packing up slowly (at an imposed speed limit) they basically got a free stop. Bottas and Hamilton both stayed out but didn’t gain track position.

When it went green, Sainz was going around the outside of Grosjean at Copse when the two collided. Safety Car out again. Each blamed the other, I call it a racing incident, Grosjean’s car twitched and he corrected it by reflex while Sainz happened to be there. Both ended up in the wall and out on on the spot, drivers okay. Of course had Grosjean not been delayed at lap 1 this crash wouldn’t have happened.

On that single green flag lap Raikkonen tried to pass Verstappen – but Verstappen kept his foot in out of Luffield up to Copse and stayed ahead!

After the second Safety Car it really got fun. Raikkonen made another move on Verstappen putting the two Ferraris and Mercedes nose to tail.

Vettel was quick, making multiple attempts to pass Bottas who defended well – until he didn’t. At Brooklands Valterri left his defence too late, Vettel came from way back and dived past. A good move, DRS-assisted of course, that he’d been working towards for a while.

Verstappen had a spin and parked the car shortly afterwards with a brake-by-wire system failure.

Hamilton and Raikkonen got past Bottas, who tried to defend a little harder but it looked like his tyres were going off after defending against Vettel for so long.

Really good racing between these guys. In this case the DRS helped, allowing similar cars to stay close together.

Perhaps in the end it was a good balance. Make passing the slower cars look easy in order to give us a great battle between the front-runners.

A fun race especially after the Safety Cars.

British GP
1  Vettel (Ferrari)
2  Hamilton (Mercedes)
3  Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4  Bottas (Mercedes)
5  Ricciardo (Red Bull-Renault)

Hulkenberg, Ocon, Alonso, Magnussen and Perez completed the top ten.

Points after Britain
171 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)  4 wins
163 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)  3 wins
116 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
106 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)  2 wins
104 Valterri Bottas (Mercedes)
93  Max Verstappen (Red Bull)  1 win

Vettel increases his lead to 8. Bottas gets ahead of Verstappen – but could’ve caught Raikkonen.

287 Scuderia Ferrari  4 wins
267 Mercedes AMG  3 wins
199 Red Bull Racing  3 wins
70  Renault F1
51  Haas
49  Force India Mercedes;
48  McLaren Renault;

Ferrari extend their lead.
Force India jump McLaren in the tight race for 5th.

IndyCar: Iowa 300

Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa, USA

Grid: Power, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, Rossi, Dixon, Wickens, Jones, Carpenter, Sato;

Another good one! We saw two racing lines (‘lanes’) with new tyres and despite a bumpy track, plenty of passing!

With the reduction in downforce and drivers talking after practice that it was tough to control the cars on worn tyres this race could’ve gone two ways:  a) crashfest or b) look after each other. Thankfully they had their heads screwed on and chose the latter.

Race leader Power caught lapped traffic after just 13 laps of the 7/8ths mile track (or inside 5 minutes) and he was struggling to clear them. By lap 25 he’d lost the lead to Newgarden after washing up the track trying to get around Andretti.

Hinchcliffe started 11th and was up 7 spots by lap 37 (with Veach up 6). On lap 38 he cleared Hunter-Reay for 3rd, lap 41 he was through Power for 2nd. Now we had two fast cars in contention.

Lap 50 saw the tyres going away. With drivers backing off to save the tyres they were not using a lot of fuel, the tyres would need changing before the fuel tank ran empty. Yet there was overtaking all through the field (except the lead).

The conundrum was this:  New tyres give a lot of speed so pitting more often is logically better – but a pit stop takes 30-35 seconds, a lap of Iowa Speedway only takes 20 seconds, you lose nearly 2 laps making a green flag stop! So you run the risk of a Safety Car coming out, allowing everyone to pit under yellow and trapping you a lap down.

Hence practically everybody tried to make the tyres last.

At lap 60 only 8 cars were on the lead lap but that didn’t seem to matter. Eventually on lap 80 the leaders came in. Rossi stalled. Bourdais, not quick all day, went 96 laps trying to make 1 fewer stop.

Safety Car at lap 138 as Veach slid into the outside wall, just a glancing blow but enough to need a clear up. He’d get going again 20 laps down. The few lead lap cars all made their 2nd stops. Lapped cars were in next after staying out to get a lap back, so we restarted with 10 on the lead lap (everyone else had been 2 or 3 laps down).

Pigot passed Hinchcliffe on the restart! It only lasted 3 laps though. Pigot looked really good. Another long green flag spell, lots of moving in the field, lots of negotiating slower traffic. Good fun. A good 60 laps later Sato was on the scene and he made it past the pair of them.

The final round of stops was done around lap 225, at 75 laps to go. Hunter-Reay came straight back in to get a toe-link checked, he was running with one-way radio so it was a difficult job.

Newgarden was in charge all day long – until the final stint. Hinchcliffe got his car working again and he charged his way through to 2nd then set about a 10+ second lead – on an oval – and he did it! Caught Newgarden and passed him in traffic. Wickens was working up the order too to 3rd.

It was shaping up for a final shootout when the Safety Car was out again with 7 laps left. Carpenter had brushed the wall leaving debris in an awkward place. At first it looked like the race was over but INDYCAR seemed to tell some teams it would restart. It took slightly too long to get the debris out of the way and run the pit sequence so it did finish under yellow.

Personally, for SC periods in the last 10 laps I would make it possible to pick up the debris and go racing again without opening the pits under yellow, like the ‘quickie yellow’ in IMSA.

Next up the streets of Toronto this weekend which sadly often is a crashfest. Let’s hope they behave there, too.

Iowa Corn 300
1  Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson)
2  Pigot (Carpenter)
3  Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan)
4  Newgarden (Penske)
5  Wickens (Schmidt Peterson)

Power, Rahal, Pagenaud, Rossi and Carpenter completed the top ten.

Points after Iowa
411  Scott Dixon (Ganassi Honda)
378  Josef Newgarden (Penske Chevy)
370  Alexander Rossi (Andretti Honda)
359  Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Honda)
358  Will Power (Penske Chevy)

Newgarden up from 4th to 2nd in a swap with RHR.
Dixon a lowly 12th but

Weekend Preview

Coming up this weekend:

World Cup Final!

FIA Formula E season finale, with the double-header races in the Brooklyn docks, one race Saturday and one race Sunday. Jean-Eric Vergne vs Sam Bird for the title.
UK:  SpikeTV

IndyCar switches from an oval to a street track with the long-standing Toronto event.
UK:  BT Sport

MotoGP is in Germany at the Sachsenring.
UK:  BT Sport

I have incredible FOMO as the 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed is taking place and I really wanted to go. It clashes with the World Cup Final and if England had made it I’d never have forgiven myself for missing it. And being financially constrained I had to pick an event and plumped for WEC.
Global:  There is live streaming on YouTube of the FOS.

DTM is at Zandvoort, NASCAR at Kentucky, WTCR is at Slovakiaring (the replacement for the cancelled Argentinian rounds).


One thought on “COMMENT: 7 & 8 July 2018 – British GP & Iowa IndyCar”

  1. Thanks Pat. Great F1 summary.

    A shame for Lewis, although a second place finish from dead last is a great result.
    A shame the Red Bulls don’t have the power to compete, and the rest, the money for aero. But I suspect Red Bull and Honda will spring a few surprises over the next few years. Here’s hoping Torro Rosso benefit from that and don’t have to go seeking yet another engine deal.


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