Formula 1

Excellent tyre strategy gifts Verstappen and Red Bull the first non-Mercedes win of 2020

4 Mins read
Verstappen - 70th Anniversary GP
Credit: Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool

After a thrilling fifty-two laps, the commemorative 70th Anniversary Grand Prix went to Max Verstappen as he took a surprisingly dominant victory around the sunny Silverstone Circuit.

Starting from fourth on the grid after yesterday’s action-packed Qualifying, it was an unlikely headline to foresee, yet the Dutchman controlled the race from start to finish.

The race started at 14:13 BST, and Valtteri Bottas got a great getaway off the line- leading the field into Abbey and beyond. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team pair had an early duel into Luffield where they exchanged the lead last year, but Bottas managed to fend off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in this instance. Confusingly, Sebastian Vettel had yet more 2020 trouble very early on- spinning around at turn one and reviving his embarrassing reputation once more.

Yet another poor weekend for Vettel Credit: Ferrari Media

Max Verstappen, starting on the hard compound tyres, managed to pip the stand-in BWT Racing Point F1 Team driver of Nico Hülkenberg in the first few corners and built a sufficient gap to prevent the German’s DRS usage when it was later activated on lap three. The Dutchman showcased very strong pace as the first lap chaos subsided, and he closed up to Hamilton on his harder tyres- ignoring his engineers advice to back off.

A worrying radio message for Bottas was aired on the sixth lap, as the Finn was informed of the ‘critical’ condition of his left front tyre- the same tyre that collapsed under extreme forces last week and cost him eighteen precious Drivers’ World Championship points.

Alexander Albon came in for an early pit stop on lap seven, emerging in last but with fresh hard tyres and clear air ahead. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing seemed to want to get the Thai driver prepared for a possible safety car, and other teams evidently agreed with that strategy as Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly and later the rest of the midfield pitted too.

On lap thirteen, Verstappen began to truly challenge home hero Lewis Hamilton whilst Bottas pitted to prevent a huge loss of pace on his yellow-marked mediums. The Finn emerged sixth and one lap later, Hamilton came in to box citing that his rears were ‘finished’- this left Verstappen in the lead of the race with a clear track ahead on his pacier white-striped tyres.

In an astonishingly brave effort through Copse, Albon manage to shoot past Kimi Räikkönen albeit being shoved wide into the flat-out right-hander. Even after many clumsy failed moves, the Red Bull driver seemed to have retained his daredevil driving style as he aimed to fight his way through the pack after pitting early on.

Fascinatingly, even after Mercedes’ pit both cars, Verstappen was churning out faster laps and pulling away more and more as the race progressed. It looked as if the two silver arrows damged their rears early on, and the Red Bull driver was characteristically adamant his hard- compound tyres were in a league of their own. Unfortunately for Mercedes, both Bottas and Hamilton began to experience huge troubles on the softer medium tyres around lap twenty-five; the two drivers didn’t make it ten laps before blisters ensued.

The Mercedes duo could not catch Verstappen – Credit: LAT Images

Monumentally, Max came in to pit on lap twenty-seven and, due to an atypically slow stop for Red Bull he had to fight Bottas hard out of the pit exit. It didn’t take him long to pass the Finn, however, and he was through at Luffield. The Milton-Keynes-based team’s list of successes lengthened further just a few laps later as Alex Albon completed some more scintillating overtakes to climb to seventh.

On lap twenty-nine, Kevin Magnussen received a five-second time penalty for rejoining the track unsafely in the unsighted path of Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi at Stowe and two laps later, Daniel Ricciardo went round at village after leaning too hard on the loud pedal in an effort to pass his team-mate.

Both Bottas and Verstappen boxed on lap thirty-three ( The Dutchman’s lucky number) and Max remained ahead, although Hamilton inherited the race lead. His tyres appeared battered and bruised, and it was palpably clear that he would not be in front for long. Verstappen was instructed to push around lap forty-one to cover-off Hamilton running to the end, although there was no need since Lewis stopped a lap later- the Englishman nearly speeding into the pit lane.

The Brit had it all to do in the final ten laps. He managed to pass Charles Leclerc into Stowe despite being remarkably passive the lap before and made his way into third to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of one-hundred and fifty-five total podiums. Magnussen became the first and only retiree a few laps later after running last for most of the race.

Mercedes engineers notified their drivers that they were free to race within the limits of their tyres, and Hamilton wasted no time in dispatching his team-mate with just three laps to go. Bottas was a sitting duck on damaged tyres and the Finn must have been furious inside the cockpit, falling from pole to third.

The race ended with Max Verstappen the deserving victor after a superhuman first stint, and he becomes the first driver to end the Mercedes dominance this year. Hamilton and Bottas completed the podium positions with the former receiving the fastest lap point. Leclerc and Albon both completed impressive drives to finish fourth and fifth respectively, and the top ten was finalised by Lance Stroll, Nico Hülkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat.

Verstappen celebrating his commanding victory – Credit: Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool
Pos.#DriverNAt.TeamLapsTime / Gap
133Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing521:19:41.993
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team52+11.326s
377Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team52+19.231s
416Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari52+29.289s
523Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing52+39.146s
618Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team52+42.538s
727Nico HülkenbergGERBWT Racing Point Formula One Team52+55.951s
831Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team52+64.773s
94Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team52+65.544s
1026Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda52+69.669s
1110Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda52+70.642s
125Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari52+73.370s
1355Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team52+74.070s
143Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team51+1 lap
157Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing51+1 lap
168Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team51+1 lap
1799Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing51+1 lap
1863George RussellGBRWilliams Racing51+1 lap
196Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing51+1 lap
2020Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team43DNF
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