Max Verstappen Wins the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix!
After Mercedes dominated the British Grand Prix (we’ll leave out the bit about their tires disintegrating at the end), the expectation was that they would do the same at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, which was held just a week later at the same circuit.
Indeed, it was the Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas Show in qualifying. Bottas took pole just 0.063 seconds ahead of Hamilton and nearly a second ahead of third-place man Nico Hülkenberg (who, it must be mentioned, did a splendid job beating his teammate just a week after being called in to substitute for Sergio Pérez). But when the lights went out on Sunday, it wasn’t long before it became clear that Mercedes’ qualifying advantage hadn’t translated into race pace.
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With the weather warm and the tire compounds even softer than they had been a week before, Mercedes simply couldn’t make its tires work on the hotter-than-usual Silverstone asphalt — and Max Verstappen was quick to make the most of it in his Honda-powered Red Bull Racing car.
As the only driver to have started the race on the hardest tire, Verstappen managed his pace brilliantly throughout the first half of the race, forcing Mercedes to try to respond via pit strategy. It wasn’t enough. Verstappen was decisive in passing Bottas on track, and Hamilton, despite being the quickest man at the end of the grand prix, didn’t have enough time to make up the gap that the Dutchman had built. His was Red Bull’s first victory at Silverstone since Mark Webber took the top spot in 2012.
Behind the frontrunners, Charles Leclerc did well to finish fourth in a difficult Ferrari car. But it was a disastrous weekend for teammate Sebastian Vettel, who spun on the first lap and whose strategy was then actively sabotaged to benefit Leclerc (the team denies this, of course), for which Vettel uncharacteristically called them out on the radio. Clearly, their divorce isn’t going well.
Nico Hülkenberg might have been able to finish fifth but for vibrations that led to him making an extra late-race pit stop to ensure he could get to the end. Following his top-notch performance as a substitute driver, there’s been a lot of talk of Hülkenberg getting an F1 contract for 2021, perhaps with Haas or even Racing Point, though nothing concrete.
With his victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, Verstappen is now second in the championship, ahead of Bottas and well clear of the rest of the field bar Lewis Hamilton. However, having extended his lead over Bottas, Hamilton remains the clear favorite for the championship. He equaled Schumacher’s record of 155 podiums by finishing second, and will almost without a doubt also equal his record of seven championship titles before the 2020 season is over.
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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.