Formula 1

ANALYSIS: 2020 British Grand Prix – Assessing the field

5 Mins read
Credit: Daimler AG/LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton won the 2020 British Grand Prix in dramatic fashion as he brought the car home after a front left tyre failure on the final lap.

The two young guns, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, joined the Briton on the podium at the fourth race of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Silverstone circuit in Great Britain.

It was a sedate race that came to a boil with a pulsating final few laps as the race leaders ran into trouble with disintegrating tyres.

Top of the class…

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.313s | Race margin to team-mate: -42.167s

Lewis Hamilton clinched his third win of the season and the eighty-seventh win of his career in dramatic style as he just made it over the finish line with his left front tyre destroyed and the outer layer just clinging on to the wheel rim.

Hamilton was in commanding form with his seventh pole at this race and he led every lap of the race. Even as he was pushed hard by Valtteri Bottas in the race, the Briton seemed in total control.

As mayhem was unleashed behind the race leader with tyre failures, Hamilton entered the final lap. The left front tyre started deflating as he entered Luffield corner and the reigning world champion had to nurse the car home with Verstappen closing the gap at the rate of knots on fresh tyres.

Hamilton was voted as “Driver Of The Day” for good measure as he scripted one of the most dramatic wins of his career on essentially three wheels on the final lap.

The reigning world champion described the dramatic last lap as follows: “I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap and my heart nearly stopped.”

Max Verstappen – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -1.220s | Race margin to team-mate: -26.814s

Max Verstappen in that enthralling final lap almost reeled in Hamilton for the race win. The Dutchman essayed a mature drive as he sat serenely in third place behind the two faster Mercedes cars for most of the race.

On this day, Verstappen knew he was no match for the two faster cars in front of him. But he waited patiently to pounce when the opportunity came and was chilled enough to advice his race engineer to take a drink and stay hydrated on a scorchingly hot day at Silverstone.

When Bottas’s tyres failed, Verstappen decided to pit as he was also experiencing vibrations. On fresh new tyres on the last lap, Verstappen took the extra point for the fastest lap and almost caught Hamilton as he limped home. Verstappen termed his second-place finish as both “lucky and unlucky”.

Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.912s | Race margin to team-mate: -23.383s

Charles Leclerc finished in third position, his second podium of the season. The Monégasque racing driver did the hard work in qualifying when he dragged the SF1000 to fourth-place on the grid. His team-mate Sebastian Vettel could qualify only in tenth position.

Leclerc had a good start and challenged Verstappen in the opening few turns for third position. After that, he was in a lonely race as he lacked the pace to challenge the three cars in front.

As Bottas ran into trouble in front, Leclerc grabbed his second opportunistic podium of the season.  A satisfied Leclerc said: “Yeah, I’m very happy with P3, even though I obviously know we’ve been lucky to be in P3, but even with P4 I was very happy with how we managed the race.”

Daniel Ricciardo – Renault DP World F1 Team

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.200s | Race margin to team-mate: -7.287s

Daniel Ricciardo finished in fourth position to tie his best result for the Renault F1 team. The Australian gained two places on the first lap and sat behind the two McLaren drivers for most of the race.

Ricciardo overtook Lando Norris with five laps to go and as Carlos Sainz hit trouble, the fourth-place finish fell into his lap. A satisfying result for Ricciardo as he has been in good form and leads his young team-mate Esteban Ocon 3-1 in the qualifying battle.

The soon to depart Riccirado was happy with his performance and said: We were assisted by some chaos, but we were definitely a top six car today and that’s pleasing.”

Homework to do…

Sebastian Vettel – Scuderia Ferrari

Qualifying margin to team-mate: +0.912s | Race margin to team-mate: +23.383s

Sebastian Vettel must have been glad the weekend was over as he finished where he started in tenth position. That solitary point itself was fortuitous as Bottas and Sainz in front of him ran into tyre problems.

Vettel had a miserable weekend which started with the German missing most of the first practice session due to an intercooler problem. Vettel struggled with the balance of the car and lagged behind Leclerc the whole weekend.

Vettel lies in thirteenth position in the drivers’ championship with ten points, a clear indicator of his current struggles. The SF1000 is a slow car, but team-mate Leclerc seems to be extracting more performance from the car at the moment. The sooner Vettel comes to terms with the car the better.

Lance Stroll – BWT Racing Point F1 Team

Qualifying margin to team-mate: -0.065s (Q2) | Race margin to team-mate: N/A

Lance Stroll started in sixth position and finished in ninth position as he struggled for race pace. Stroll topped the second free practice session and was in the top 5 positions in all the practice sessions.

After losing two places at the start, Stroll lost ground to Pierre Gasly and Ocon in the race. The RP20 has good qualifying pace but seemed to lose ground once again in race trim.

Alexander Albon – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda

Qualifying margin to team-mate: +1.220s | Race margin to team-mate: +26.814s

Alexander Albon was in the wars all weekend. The Anglo-Thai driver is under pressure as his performance gap to his team-mate Verstappen is glaring at the moment.

Albon started in twelfth position and finished in eighth position. He was in a world of pain from the start as he clashed with Kevin Magnussen and was given a five-second penalty.

After two pitstops, Albon made steady progress in his final stint and went from seventeenth position to eighth position. It was a good recovery drive, but in stark contrast to Verstappen who is essaying clean drives in front for podium positions.

Romain Grosjean – Haas F1 Team

Qualifying margin to team-mate: +0.243s | Race margin to team-mate: N/A

Romain Grosjean was shown the warning black and white flag for “unsportsmanlike conduct” after his overly aggressive defensive move to keep Sainz behind. Then he compounded the error with a similar move against Ricciardo which the Australian described as “sketchy”.

Grosjean who is pointless in the four races this season found himself in fifth position due to a strategic roll of the dice by his team. After Daniil Kvyat’s big shunt on the nineteenth lap, Grosjean stayed out even as the cars around him pitted under the Safety Car.

Grosjean then robustly defended his position against the faster cars on fresher tyres behind him. A little bit too aggressively as it turned out and he finished in sixteenth position.

The rest…

Valtteri Bottas finished in eleventh position after a comfortable second position in the race was negated with a tyre failure with two laps to go.

Esteban Ocon finished in sixth position to bring home a double-points finish for the Renault F1 team. Nico Hulkenberg who was called-in at the last minute to replace Sergio Pérez had to endure through the disappointment of not starting the race due to power unit issues.

Lando Norris with a fifth-place finish retained his creditable fourth position in the drivers’ championship.  Team-mate Sainz who was running in fifth place had to be content with thirteenth position due to tyre failure in the final laps.  

Daniil Kvyat who has been outqualified by his Scuderia AlphaTauri team-mate Pierre Gasly in every race this season saw his race end with a large shunt probably due to a tyre puncture. Gasly kept up his fine run of form as he finished in seventh position ahead of Albon.

George Russell finished in a creditable twelfth position for Williams as he continues to qualify well. Team-mate Nicholas Latifi and the Alfa Romeo Racing drivers endured through another pointless race.

The teams will be in action next weekend at the same venue for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix race.

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