Formula 1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone was a fitting milestone event for the sport. Max Verstappen’s victory was a display that balanced his natural aggression with control, aided by a canny tyre strategy from Red Bull Racing to topple the dominant Mercedes-AMG team and end its unbeaten streak in the 2020 season.
The Dutchman beat Lewis Hamilton and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas in the 52-lap race, harrying the two drivers early in the race as they tried to stretch their high-wearing Medium compound tyres while he had started the race on the more durable Hard rubber.
After locking out the front row in qualifying, the two Mercedes’ – with Bottas having narrowly shaded Hamilton on Saturday – led from the off. The W11 had easily been the quickest car at three different circuits this year, and last weekend at the same circuit they looked untouchable until tyre failures caused late drama.
Having swept all three practice sessions, they looked similar strong this weekend but on race day, with Pirelli supplying softer tyres, the Mercedes’ looked vulnerable. They were working their tyres far too hard, blistering the rubber within a handful of laps after the start.
This time they were unable to pull away from Verstappen, whose Red Bull Racing team had gambled by starting him on the theoretically slower Hard tyres. It was immediately apparent that he would be a major threat as he harried the leaders.
Bottas and then Hamilton pitted, leaving Verstappen to stay out and build a big enough lead to jump Hamilton and rejoin just behind Bottas after his pit stop. His tyres still not up to temperature, he immediately attacked the Finn and passed him around the outside of Luffield to take the lead.
Red Bull Racing was committed to a two-stop race and now out in front, Verstappen pushed to build a gap to Bottas. The pair made their second pit stops together, rejoining in the same order, while Hamilton gambled on staying out in the hope he could nurse his tyres to the finish.
It was an impossible ask for the Englishman, who was eventually forced to make a second and final pit stop late in the race – the risk of a repeat of his tyre failure that had almost cost him victory a week ago was too much. He needed as many points as possible to protect the 30-point buffer to teammate Bottas.
He rejoined in fourth place behind Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, quickly overtook the Monégasque and then set about chasing down Bottas. With two laps to go, he overtook his teammate – who was later critical of the team’s strategic calls – with two laps to go.
Verstappen’s victory propelled him to second in the Drivers’ Championship standings on 77 points, 30 behind Hamilton and four ahead of Bottas.
Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari after another fine drive in uncompetitive machinery, ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon.
Lance Stroll and Nico Hülkenberg finished sixth and seventh respectively for Racing Point, with Renault’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat completing the top ten.
|EMIRATES FORMULA 1 70TH ANNIVERSARY GRAND PRIX 2020 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (52 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB16||52||1:19:41.993||25|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||52||+ 11.326||19|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||52||+ 19.231||15|
|4.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||52||+ 29.289||12|
|5.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB16||52||+ 39.146||10|
|6.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||52||+ 42.538||8|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||52||+ 55.951||6|
|8.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||52||+ 1:04.773||4|
|9.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||52||+ 1:05.544||2|
|10.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||52||+ 1:09.669||1|
|11.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||52||+ 1:10.642|
|12.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||52||+ 1:13.370|
|13.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||52||+ 1:14.070|
|14.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||51||1 lap behind|
|15.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||51||1 lap behind|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||51||1 lap behind|
|17.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||51||1 lap behind|
|18.||George Russell||Williams Racing FW43||51||1 lap behind|
|19.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||51||1 lap behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||43||Vibration|
Championship points are awarded on the results of the Final Classification of each Grand Prix to the race’s top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
A bonus point is awarded to the driver finishing in the top-ten (Lewis Hamilton) and their corresponding team (Mercedes-AMG Petronas) for posting the fastest lap of the race.
- Kevin Magnussen received a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and rejoining in an unsafe manner.
- The classification of Lance Stroll and Nico Hülkenberg is provisional, subject to the outcome of any appeals lodged with the International Court of Appeal, relating to Racing Point’s use of brake ducts, the development of which was found to be in contravention of the Sporting Regulations.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool
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