After a drama-laiden final few laps, Lewis Hamilton crossed the line with a punctured left front tyre to win his seventh British Grand Prix, his fifth win in the last six British Grands Prix.
Before the race even started, it was a tragedy for BWT Racing Point F1 Team, as Nico Hulkenberg, brought in to replace Sergio Perez after a positive COVID-19 test, couldn’t even make it to the grid. Issues with the power unit meant that the team couldn’t get the RP20 fired, and his race was over before it began.
When the lights went out, it was a clean getaway for everyone. Valterri Bottas had a better initial launch than his teammate Hamilton, but Lewis used the advantage gained by starting on the racing line to take the lead and dash away by the time the pack hit the Wellington Straight.
Lando Norris and Lance Stroll were the biggest losers on the initial start, losing places to Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo.
By the end of the lap, however, things became more chaotic.
Going into the final corner, Club, Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen got up on the curbs and Alexander Albon tried to get his car into the gap. Instead of completing a pass, Albon made hard contact with Magnussen’s right rear tyre, sending him through the gravel and into the barrier. This brought out the first safety car of the day.
It was a shame for Magnussen, who had a brilliant start to gain a few spots, but it eventually led to a five second penalty for Albon for causing a collision later in the race after investigation.
The first lap was kind to Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN driver Antonio Giovinazzi however, as he continued his streak of being the only driver to gain positions on the first lap of every grands prix so far this season. He gained two positions.
The safety car was in on lap five as Lewis Hamilton led the field to green to start lap six. Albon came into the pits on that lap to switch to hard tyres. Albon’s penalty was not handed down at this point, so he did not have to serve it yet.
Lap 12 saw another safety car come out as Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat had a scary crash entering the high-speed Maggots and Becketts complex. A right rear tyre going down sent Kvyat into a high speed spin followed by the car being plowed nose-first into the barriers. Luckily, Kvyat walked away unscathed.
Every driver came into the pits after the second safety car came out, switching to hard tyres. Only Haas’ Romain Grosjean stayed out on his medium tyres, putting him into fifth place for the restart.
The restart came on lap 18, as Hamilton led the field yet again to lap 19. Lando Norris made a charge this lap, going around the outside Daniel Ricciardo for seventh place. He immediately took the race to his McLaren F1 Team compatriot Sainz into Copse, but ran a bit wide.
It was also on this lap that Alex Albon finally received his five second penalty for causing a collision.The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver would come in to serve his penalty and also change tyres on lap 30, switching to medium tyres to make a late charge through the field.
Grosjean would impressively hold his own with his old medium tyres, as it took Carlos Sainz until lap 22 to finally pass him. It wasn’t without controversy, however, as the Frenchman was shown the black and white flag for unsportsmanlike conduct after a late swerve at the end of the Hangar Straight.
On lap 36 the Haas would be swallowed up by Ricciardo for sixth place into Brooklands, but again Grosjean made a late move to try and defend his position. This move would not warrant another black and white flag. Later in the lap, Grosjean would be caught by Lance Stroll before ducking into the pits for hard tyres.
Tyres became the big story from this point on, as both Mercedes-AMG Petronas cars reported blistering on their right front tyres, with Valterri Bottas even reporting visibility issues due to vibrations.
Lap 48 saw Kimi Raikkonen have a left front tyre down after his front wing broke in the Maggots and Becketts complex. This brought out yellow flags in sectors two and three for a brief period of time.
Two laps later on lap 50, Bottas had a tyre cut down just after passing the start/finish line. He was able to nurse the tyre all the way around the 5.891 km circuit and make it to the pits for soft tyres.
Max Verstappen, who was all alone on track in a comfortable third place, passed the Finn and took the chance to go into the pits and switch to soft tyres,avoiding any possible tyre problems. With Bottas pitting and enough of a gap to Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Verstappen didn’t lose any positions.
Carlos Sainz was the next victim of a cut tyre, also a left front, forced to pit from a strong fourth place.
He wouldn’t be the last, however, as race leader Lewis Hamilton also had a cut tyre on the final lap. With a gap of over 20 seconds to Verstappen, Hamilton had to nurse the tyre home as the gap rapidly closed, but he completed the great escape with a roughly six second cushion between the two. One has to think that had Verstappen’s tyres held up, he could have won this race.
Instead however, Hamilton won his seventh British Grand Prix, a record for wins at a driver’s home track, followed by Verstappen and a surprise podium for Charles Leclerc in third. Bottas and Sainz were unable to make it back into the points after their pit stops, finishing eleventh and thirteenth respectively.
Albon was able to complete his impressive charge through the field to finish eighth, a wonderful finish considering everything he had endured this race.
Renault DP World F1 Team will also be very happy with their performances today, as Daniel Ricciardo finished in a mighty fourth place and Esteban Ocon came home in sixth.
After the tyre drama today, it will be intriguing to see what strategies will be in play for next week’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, with hotter temperatures reported and Pirelli providing softer compounds of tyre than what was brought for this race.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||1:28:01.283|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+5.856|
|3||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+18.474|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||+19.650|
|5||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||+22.277|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||+26.937|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+31.188|
|8||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+32.670|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||+37.311|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||+41.857|
|11||77||Valterri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||+42.167|
|12||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||+52.004|
|13||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||+53.370|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+54.205*|
|15||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||+54.549|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||+55.050|
|17||7||Kimi Raikkonen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+1 LAP|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri||Crash|
|19||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||Crash|
|20||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||DNS|