Formula 1

ANALYSIS: Assessing the field – 2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

6 Mins read
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The Emirates 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was the second of a double header at Silverstone Circuit. This weekend’s Grand Prix celebrated 70 years since the first formula one race, in 1950 which was also held at Silverstone. 

Back then the races took place on the old perimeter roads around the old war time airfield in rural Northamptonshire. In 1950 it was the Alfa Romeo of Giuseppe Farina that crossed the line in first place, step forward to 2020 and it was Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Top of the class

Max Verstappen – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 

Qualifying margin to team mate: -0.493s | Race margin to team mate: -39.146s

Max Verstappen is the closest competitor to the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team drivers, Lewis Hamilton and pole man Valtteri Bottas. The Dutchman took the lead despite the team telling him not to push his tyres and fight the Mercedes for position. Max protested the order saying he wasn’t going to just sit behind the silver arrows, and it was just as well he took it into his own hands. Bottas then lost position to Hamilton behind Verstappen, whilst he navigated his RB16 to his ninth career win – a stellar drive from the 22 year-old. 

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Qualifying margin to team mate: + 0.063  | Race margin to team mate: – 7.905s

Starting the Grand Prix in second behind teammate Bottas, it looked like Hamilton was going to pull the classic first corner move to take first from the Finn, but Bottas kept the door well and truly closed in the early stages of the race. Lewis found the race incredibly challenging having suffered with severe blistering of the Pirelli tyres, having spent the latter stages of the race chasing down the podium spots whilst nursing his tyres. Free to race his team mate, he took the second spot on the podium, matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 155 total career podiums – another record ticked off Lewis’ recent bucket list. Despite not scoring a win, it was a brilliant performance for Lewis, who continues to lead the championship going into Barcelona this weekend. 

Charles Leclerc / Scuderia Ferrari 

Qualifying margin to team mate: N/A – Vettel out in Q2 | Race margin to team mate: -44.081s

Despite it being common knowledge that the SF1000 is hard to handle, Leclerc finished in the top four for the third time in a row whilst his team mate Sebastian Vettel struggled to make a points finish. We know the Ferrari lacks pace, but it was a great strategy gamble with a one stop which ultimately paid off for Charles and Ferrari. Shame we cannot say the same for Vettel.

Nico Hulkenberg : BWT Racing Point F1 Team 

Qualifying margin to team mate: -0.346s | Race margin to team mate: +13.413s

After jumping into the RP20 last time out to take over from Sergio Perez, due to a covid positive test, Hulkenberg didn’t make the start of the British Grand Prix due to a late power unit issue with the car. This weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix turned out better than we’d all hoped for the German. We had a feeling he would impress, but after having been out of a formula one car since the end of last season when Renault signed Esteban Ocon, a third place in qualifying sent a ripple of excitement through the fan world and a win or podium finish really wasn’t out of reach this time out. Having dropped back at the start, Nico held out and finished the race just behind teammate Lance Stroll, in seventh place. What’s more, after only one outing, he sits four points behind four time champion Vettel in the drivers championship standings. 

Homework to do

Sebastian Vettel / Scuderia Ferrari 

Qualifying margin to team mate: N/A – out in Q2 | Race margin to team mate: +44.081s

As much as it pains me to put the four time champion in this bracket again, the spin on the first lap really set the precedent for Sebastian Vettel’s entire Grand Prix. Granted, he recovered from last to just outside of reach of the points in twelfth, but a badly timed strategy call from the pit wall ended his chances of moving further into the points; sending the German back out into traffic from a pit stop. Another statistic to add to Vettel’s woes is he sits just four points clear of Nico Hulkenberg in the Drivers’ Championship, despite Hulkenberg only contesting in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix so far this season. 

Daniel Ricciardo: Renault DP World F1 Team

Qualifying margin to team mate: N/A – Ocon out in Q2  | Race margin to team mate: +1 lap

Off the back of a fourth place finish at the British Grand Prix the previous week, Daniel Ricciardo’s qualifying position of fifth set the Aussie up for a potential podium position come the end of the 52nd lap, however the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix did not quite end up like that for Daniel. Losing out at the start and exiting the pit lane following a stop into traffic didn’t set him up well to claw back position. Whilst defending against Sainz a spin lost him further position thus ending the race without any points, which was the first time in three races. 

Kevin Magnussen: Haas F1 Team 

Qualifying margin to team mate: N/A – out in Q1 | Race margin to team mate: DNF

Kevin Magnussen was the only driver to not finish the race. The Haas team retired the Dane on lap 40 due to concerns with vibrations on his VF-20 and issues with tyre management. Magnussen, as well as Hamilton, suffered from blistering on his Pirellis and the team running out of their allocated tyres. It was dangerous to carry on for a longer stint on tyres which were going off. But not only that, he received a time penalty for rejoining the track in front of the Williams of Nicholas Latifi. Kevin also blamed his noncompetitive performance on old parts on his car following his big crash in last weekend’s British Grand Prix.

The rest of the field 

BWT Racing Point F1 Team’s Lance Stroll had another strong weekend, finishing right in the points a place ahead of his substitute team-mate Hulkenberg. Stroll had the pace to finish higher, having lined up on the grid in sixth place. Hulkenberg qualifying in third place and the Renault appeal against the RP20 really took the attention away from the strong performances of both racers over the weekend. 

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon had a strong weekend as far as his latest performances go finishing in fifth place after holding his own throughout the race. We know he is talented but at the moment it would be unfair to compare him with Verstappen. 

The McLaren F1 Team boys Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris couldn’t quite hit the spot over the weekend which left Carlos finishing the race out of the points, however Lando finished in ninth place after what he described as a difficult race, having suffered with tyre issues throughout. A contentious pit stop left Sainz in a  dour mood at the end, crossing the line in thirteenth place, even though the performance of the Spaniard in the first stint suggested he too would have a points finish. 

Daniil Kvyat scored a points finish for Scuderia Alpha Tauri with Pierre Gasly finishing a place behind in eleventh just missing out on the top ten. Daniil was particularly happy with his race saying: “I’m very satisfied today, I felt like it was a mega race. As a team we did a great job, we were able to squeeze everything out of the car and I think today’s result was the maximum on the table. We took every opportunity that came our way and, unlike last week, we were able to capitalise on them.”

Renault’s Esteban Ocon fared better than his team-mate Ricciardo having scored a points finish, crossing the line in eighth place. Ocon had a hard race having started in fourteenth following a grid penalty imposed after qualifying for impeding George Russell, however he capitalised on his car having more pace than the cars starting in front of him. 

I think we know not that the Alfa Romeo ORLEN’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are not consistent contenders to finish in the points. It would’ve been bittersweet if they could’ve taken a points finish on the anniversary  of the first Formula One Grand Prix where an Alfa won, but they had to concede with fifteenth and seventeenth place. 

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