Wolff's muted congratulations shows Hamilton relationship has changed


Wolff's reaction to Hamilton's fairytale victory; McLaren's struggles; F1's new movie attention; Perez's poor form; and Silverstone's room for improvement. Chris Medland's diary from the 2024 British GP paddock

Lewis Hamilton Toto Wolff

Hamilton was met with muted celebrations from his team boss

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A true flashpoint between title rivals for the first time since 2021 and it invoked some strong opinions in the paddock. But elsewhere there was frustration at the holding pattern in the driver market, and a general improvement in the way the race was policed. 


Wolff cool on Hamilton amid all the emotion 

Lewis Hamilton’s outpouring of emotion after taking his first victory since 2021 was infectious, as a massive crowd got to celebrate Formula 1’s most successful driver winning his home race for a record ninth time. 

Hamilton was in tears on team radio, and embraced his father in parc ferme as well as telling race engineer Peter Bonnington “I love you, Bono” after the chequered flag. 

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2024 British Grand Prix

His ninth British GP victory was Hamilton’s first since 2021


But Toto Wolff’s emotions appeared far more in check. The team principal was clearly happy for Hamilton and called the win “almost like a little fairytale”, but he declined to go into much detail about his own feelings when pressed and was keen to refer to how the team had let Russell down too, even saying “George is going to win one”. 

In the past it does feel like Wolff would have been far more emphatic about the performance and significance of Hamilton’s drive, but with the parting of the ways that is coming at the end of the year it does feel like that bond has been weakened to some degree. 


McLaren needs to step up  

Aside from Hamilton’s victory, a key takeaway from Sunday’s race was the failings at McLaren to get the most out another race-winning opportunity.

That’s not to say either Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri would definitely have won had the right calls been made, but McLaren had set itself up for the race with two new sets of medium tyres, and then failed to even use them for the final stint in Norris’ case.  

2024 British Grand Prix Lando Norirs

Another near-miss for Norris

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With each missed chance – and you can make cases of varying strength for Imola, Canada, Spain, and Austria prior to this weekend – there seems to be slightly more muddled thinking, and that just adds a bit more pressure when the next close race rolls around. McLaren has done a brilliant job of developing a car that can fight for wins at almost every circuit, and for having two drivers capable of picking up big points each weekend too, but further hard work needs to go into ensuring it can extract the best possible result out of races more often. It’s far from an easy thing to do, but that’s the biggest component that appears to be letting it down now. 


The F1 film 

There was plenty of focus on the new F1 film once again during the weekend at Silverstone, as more scenes were shot and a full crew on-site. 

The plan had never been to shoot at 2024 races but the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) strike last year extended filming. Cars were seen on track again and personnel in the paddock, but as with the other occasions there has been a big presence, there was a seamless integration. 

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You may have noticed the official title was revealed on Friday and the choice of simply F1 did lead to plenty of eye rolling in the media centre, but the reality is it is the clearest name to select for an audience of cinema-goers who have maybe never even seen a single moment of the sport before.  

And the teaser that was released on Sunday again didn’t get universal love within the paddock for the opening dialogue or certain camera shots, but it must be said the action looks spectacular and this is not a film for you or I who follow F1. It’s a film for the wider world to hopefully discover the sport and want to know more about it. 

One driver’s manager even said the film is “blowing things up” when it comes to interest already, and it’s worth remembering there was scepticism over the arrival of Netflix before the first season of Drive to Survive hit the screens… 


Pressure ramping up on Perez 

Red Bull has never been a team to shy away from making tough decisions when it comes to its driver line-up, but in recent years it has appeared more content to give Sergio Perez as much time as possible when he is struggling. 

The thinking was that Perez was a far more proven quantity than the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon who went before him, and therefore any difficulties suggest something more inherent within the team or the car than just the driver himself. 

But after handing Perez a new two-year contract ahead of the race in Imola – a deal that was confirmed before the Canadian Grand Prix – Red Bull has seen an alarming drop-off in form. 

Sergio Perez 2024 British Grand Prix

A trip into the gravel during qualifying was the latest in a long line of mistakes from Perez in recent races

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Perez’s 15 points over the past six races from Imola onwards is only good enough for ninth in the driver’s championship — behind even the 16 points Nico Hülkenberg has picked up in the past two rounds — and compares to Max Verstappen’s 119 points over the same stretch.  

While 78 points cover the top three teams in the constructors’ championship, it is clear that McLaren has the potential to score heavily with two cars each weekend and Red Bull can come under serious threat. Christian Horner’s tone has changed in recent weeks – both in public and in private – as patience has started to wear thin with Perez’s form, and after another mistake led to a Q1 exit here, the questions about how long the team can continue to tolerate this slump grew louder. 

Liam Lawson will be getting track time between the next two race weekend as part of previous car running as well as a Red Bull filming day at Silverstone on Thursday in the current car, and if Perez can’t show improvements over the next two races his seat could be in real jeopardy. 


The good and bad of Silverstone 

The British Grand Prix really is a sensational event in the sense of the crowd it attracts, and not just the sheer numbers. 

Our amazing summertime meant the 480,000 fans that came to the race had to brave some challenging elements, with torrential rain on many occasions that led to boggy walkways and flooded tunnels. Many grandstands are exposed to the elements as well, so plenty of waterproof clothing was required. 

The low temperatures too were hardly fun, especially for those camping over the weekend and having to deal with sleeping overnight with little chance of warming up the next day. But you can’t control the elements, even if Silverstone would do well to improve some of the car parking and walkway options for fans and guests so that they are less likely to get stuck or wade through muddy areas. It would also speed up entry and exit, which became the source of ire for many in the paddock and hospitality areas over the weekend. 

British Grand Prix 2024

Thousands braved the elements over the race weekend

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Pinchy diamond shoes, I know, to talk about the privileged few, but the Wing’s location far from the entry and exit points to the track meant shuttle buses were needed to transport team members and their guests within the circuit. While you’re always going to have to deal with significant traffic outside the venue with such a big crowd, within it the system simply didn’t work on multiple days.  

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To have some of the teams being unable to get out of the paddock without walking in the rain – and the same for guests where F1 demands they pay huge money – just won’t cut it. And that’s even before pointing out the ever-increasing prices that are testing the loyalty of the incredible fanbase. 

It’s a sensational atmosphere and great event that had a brilliant outcome for the home fans, but Silverstone has plenty of areas where it should be better by now, and as much as the hundreds of thousands of fans need to be prioritised, the decision-makers within F1 are also never going to be impressed if basic movement of personnel and guests is poor. 

At the top level, it’s an amazing grand prix and many attendees had a special day on Sunday, but there was plenty of grumbling beneath the impressive overall spectacle that should not be ignored, because the ongoing success of the event cannot only hinge on the drivers putting on such a show on a Sunday afternoon.   

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