Lewis Hamilton had a fairytale Sunday afternoon driving around Silverstone. The safety car came out at just the right time for him to benefit from a ‘free’ pit stop and on the last lap of the race he achieved the fastest lap. This bonus point accompanied the 25 points which he secured following his historic 6th British Grand Prix victory. However, Valtteri Bottas is driving for his future and just possibly, for the conspiracy theorists, there is a case to be made that the drivers were not being treated equally or given an equal opportunity at Silverstone.
Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff has shared his shock at the fact Lewis Hamilton achieved the fastest lap at Silverstone by saying how the five-time world champion made all the data “look a little bit silly”. However, there is one piece of data which many people are overlooking - Valtteri Bottas is not one of them.
Bottas’ W10 was heavier than Hamilton’s when he put forward his ‘fastest lap of the race attempt’ and momentarily went purple on lap 47. Not just this though, there was also a disparity between batteries as highlighted by Valtteri himself.
“I tried pretty hard, but I didn't really have full battery level at the moment…even though with the mode I was running the lap before, it should have been. But I think it's something we actually raised in the meeting, that can be a lot better in the race if we really have some margin to go for the fastest lap, to charge the pack more, to really deploy more. So I feel I lost a bit there.”
Hearing this news, the lap (although impressive by the reigning F1 champion) may lose some of its shine. However, something Bottas could have done something about during his attempt would have been to drive a clean lap – which as he admits once again was not the case.
"It was not much. I had a bit of a lock-up into the last corner, the last couple of corners, so it was maybe a tenth there. That was enough.”
Driver error like this may be something Mercedes evaluate when discussing Bottas’ long-term future.
Despite the fact that the battery may not have been at Hamilton’s level, there is no disputing how impressive it was that Hamilton could achieve the bonus point on a set of hard tyres that were 31 laps old.
“I didn’t honestly know whether or not I’d be able to beat that time. I was doing [1m]29.0[s], 29.1, and he (Bottas) did a [1m]27.4[s] I think it was I heard. I came on the radio and said I’m going to give it a go. I think they were quite reluctant initially, but they said I could go for it. I backed off a little bit the lap before just to cool the tyres a little bit, and then just went for it. And the tyre held up, it was really awesome. There was a bit of a blister on the right front, I was a little bit nervous about that, but otherwise it was really awesome…You know, I study the strategy and I am starting to become a strategist on my own."
Lewis Hamilton has won 5 F1 Drivers’ Championships for a reason and the fact that his mind can comprehend this scenario while doing 300kph around Silverstone goes some way to show the incredibly talented racer he is. Compare his thought process with the lack of consideration shown by Sebastian Vettel prior to hitting the rear of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and we can start to see how the Brit has had the edge over the 4 time German World Champion in recent years.
So, let’s take Sunday’s fastest lap for what it was: a brave, bold move by a supremely talented racer willing to put everything on the line for just one more point.
For the drama to continue to the end of the race was exactly why this bonus point rule was invented and so far it has not disappointed.