An unusual race gave way to a very usual result as Lewis Hamilton triumphed at Silverstone If there’s been a recurring theme to F1 headlines over the past six months, it’s that as things stand in 2015, the sport seems to have lost its way. Whether from the drivers, teams or fans, there seems to be a prevailing attitude of negativity towards the sport – perhaps there’ll be a respite after Sunday. Before Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to take his fifth win of the season, the 2015 British Grand Prix had seen F1 run the gamut of causes for excitement: Mercedes getting smoked off the line, an early safety car, Williams’ improbable lead, a host of strategical hotspots and some late showers combined to make the race the most difficult Mercedes 1-2 we’re likely to see this season. Especially considering the race did in fact finish in the ‘traditional’ HAM-ROS-VET podium, it’s hard to describe it with any word other than ‘crazy’. So, just how did we end up with one of the more entertaining races in recent memory? Let’s break down the talking points from the British Grand Prix. Hamilton endures Williams, Rosberg and Rain to win home race Considering he both started and finished first, it’s hard to foresee Lewis Hamilton forging a more difficult path from the former to the latter. Where Hamilton’s previous victories this season have been characterised by his dominance behind the wheel, Sunday’s edition is best framed as a work of simple survival, with a side of good fortune and a dash of prescience thrown in. Despite the Mercedes’ pace advantage, Hamilton spent more time responding-to rather than dictating proceedings – having to deal firstly with the rapid starts of the Williams’, then later a rampaging Rosberg and the decision when to pit for intermediates as rain intensified over the circuit – and it was the sum of those responses that secured him the victory. Initially forced into a battle with both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas (the latter through his own mistake at the restart), the pair got a taste of the treatment usually reserved for Nico Rosberg, as the Brit put in two superb laps either side of his pit-stop to pull off an undercut. Proceeding to build his lead, things looked comfortable until the appearance of rain on lap 35 flipped proceedings completely on its head, with Rosberg able to reel in both Williams and get within 3 seconds of Hamilton in the changeable conditions. Losing on average over two seconds a lap to his teammate, it’s possible to argue Hamilton was both forced to pit by Rosberg or willingly made the call due to the weather – in either case, the rain came, and the British fans would be going home happy. For a driver who is well known for his irritability during races, everything about this drive was emblematic of a Hamilton who was able to keep his cool amidst the torrent of drama swirling around him, even if he wasn’t at his very best. Forced off ‘Plan A’ almost immediately, Hamilton showed his adaptability as the race wore on, and in the end won it comfortably. Would things have gone differently without the curious strategy decisions from Williams (don’t worry, we’re about to get to that), or if Rosberg had one more dry lap? Maybe. All we know is Lewis did enough in the end to get his hands back on his favourite gold trophy. Williams strategy a comedy of errors From dreams of topping the podium to off it completely – Williams had cause for plenty of excitement and disappointment alike on Sunday. With both cars lining up ahead of the Ferraris after Saturday qualifying, it was apparent Williams were ready to stake their claim to the ‘best of the rest’ title, and the getaways of both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas only further boosted their credentials. Leading 1-2 after the early safety car, the pit wall had to be thinking of an unlikely victory. Oh, but what could have been. Showing the sort of tactical nous usually found in generals planning land invasions of Russia, the Williams pitwall managed to take their drivers not just out of contention, but all the way back to a 4-5 finish. So what went wrong? In essence, Williams’ misfortune boiled down to a single problem: it seemed the only people who didn’t realise they were punching above their weight in the early stages were Williams themselves. As such they were unwilling to take any risks whatsoever – whether it was letting the faster Bottas past and bruising Massa’s ego, responding to Hamilton’s first stop with either driver and gambling on the hard compound lasting, or taking a Hamilton-like risk with the inters as the rainclouds came overhead. Time and again they went the conservative route, and in the end it cost them. Strategy aside, it’s only fair to acknowledge that their hopes were impacted fairly significantly by the FW37’s poor performance in the wet. As the heavens opened and the team found itself in the sights of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, Williams was always fighting an uphill battle to stay ahead. It’s probably what Rob Smedley and co. were telling themselves post-race, but it doesn’t hide the reality that they were doomed by their own conservatism, and F1 fans have every right to feel disappointed. Rollercoaster ride highlights good and bad of F1 in 2015 In the wake of so much doom-and-gloom in F1 circles, the British Grand Prix proved to be just what the doctor ordered. The race ended up being absolutely gripping from start-to-finish, packing more plot twists into its 1.5 hour duration than any soap opera. Sitting on my couch, I found myself getting roped into the excitement of each moment wondering just what the hell was going to happen next, and you probably were too. F1 stands alone among major professional sports in that what happens at the start can have just as much impact as what happens at the finish. It’s why something like Williams’ early lead is so exciting, because a team like Mercedes, used to being in the driver’s seat can’t simply respond in turn, and so it goes on throughout the race, with each twist opening up new possibilities – as the rain did for Sebastian Vettel. It only takes a shred of uncertainty to keep you watching, and keep you guessing. However, there is a downside, and it is simply this: the inability of Hamilton to stick a move past either Williams isn’t exactly ideal, considering the Mercs still had the faster car. The fact that Hamilton could only attempt moves when all were on cold tyres, after which he had to bide his time to the pitstops (as DRS was no help) suggests that at least some of the negativity around cars not being able to go wheel-to-wheel is warranted. Of course, it’s impossible to make all races thrillers from start-to-finish, but a race like Sunday’s shows the ingredients are there. As we look to the F1 Strategy Group and the sport’s decision-makers to improve the quality in the 2017 regulations, let’s hope they remember races like this, and build on its foundations, instead of tearing it down. Was Hamilton more lucky than good? Did Williams shoot themselves in the foot? What needs improving to see more races like Sunday’s? Sound off below.