- Lewis Hamilton wins seventh British Grand Prix after late drama at Silverstone
- Briton claims third successive F1 win on bounce, extending points lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas following late Mercedes’ tyre issues
- Max Verstappen denied stunning final-lap win, pitting to clock fastest lap time instead
SILVERSTONE, UK – After Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh Formula 1 win at Silverstone after a dramatic finale, what did we learn from the 2020 British Grand Prix?
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F1 can still surprise
It has often been suggested that Formula 1 in the modern is simply not capable of surprising anymore, however all that witnessed the final laps of the 2020 British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday would have been vehement in opposing said opinion.
On an afternoon in Northamptonshire that had been largely formulaic – not least for Mercedes – lap 50 of 51 saw a dramatic shift in gear, as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas suffered near-unprecedented tyre issues on the penultimate lap, as left deflations saw a dramatic scramble in the finale.
With Bottas set to follow Hamilton home in runners-up spot, the Finn was forced to pit and drop out of the points after sustaining tyre damage while the Briton – holding a thirty-second lead over Max Verstappen – was left to limp round the final lap of the track, with his left-front wheel visibly damaged.
Verstappen meanwhile who had pitted for fresh tyres in pursuit of an extra point for the fastest lap, was left to exit the pit lane with Briton labouring to the chequered flag.
Having then seen Hamilton win by mere seconds, the Belgian would have surely been cursing his luck, but was consoled having been bumped up into second himself via Bottas’ enforced stop.
It was indeed one of the most remarkable conclusions to a race in recent memories and as the sparks flew literally on the finishing line, F1 had again proved to its’ many nay-sayers that even in its’ perceived era of procession, can still create remarkable theatre.
Debris to blame?
Inevitably, the post-race inquest was focussed on the late failure of the Pirelli tyres, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also suffering the same issues that hit both Hamilton and Bottas – finishing 13th after being well-set for fourth.
Indeed, failure and lack of reliability would have been the watch-word in the paddock. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff however, pointed to in the direction of Kimi Raikkonen‘s late crash, that may have left debris on the track to trigger the spate of tyre problems.
As he told F1.com:
“I think the left front [tyre] is the one that is the most hammered, and therefore more vulnerable also to debris. There were lots of pieces of carbon on the track after [Kimi] Raikkonen’s off.
We saw some part of the car, part of the front wing on track, so we will never know but I guess Pirelli’s going to analyse that.”
The lead into next weekend will be dominated by the dramatic deterioration of the Pirellis, and with the C2, C3 and C4 set to be used once more, the paddock will be scrupulously examining the finer detail of the softer component in the coming days.
Hamilton in ominous form
Despite his late scare, Hamilton’s win was the third on the bounce this season as he further extended his World Drivers Championship lead now to already thirty points, as the 35-year-old claimed also his seventh British Grand Prix win at Silverstone.
Only denied a podium finish in Austria on opening weekend by way of steward intervention, the Briton now looks to have firmly found his groove once more with F1 crown number seven now firmly in his sights.
Looking back to Sochi last Autumn during the Russian GP, Hamilton has won seven of his last ten races. With another chance to make it eight from 11 on home tarmac to come, the Briton already looks in ominous form for the coming season.
Hulkenberg denied grand return
After Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday, Racing Point’s plans for Silverstone’s double-header were thrown in disarray. Nico Hulkenberg however, appeared to have ridden to the rescue.
Given the nod to the replace the Mexican, the British Grand Prix looked set to see the German driver’s return to the paddock after a disappointing 2019 season with Renault, but after impressing this weekend in practice and qualifying 13th, the was cruelly denied a return to race-day.
As the cars left the paddock for grid proceedings on Sunday, Hulkenberg was left stranded in the pits after engine failure, leaving Lance Stroll as RP’s sole representative to start the race.
If there is a crumb of comfort for the 32-year older however, the news that Perez will not race this weekend gives Hulkenberg a second shot to turn on the style. With the same temperatures forecast for race weekend as he enjoyed in practice also, Racing Point may be looking at very different fortunes in Round 5, not least for Hulkenberg.
Anniversary race approaches
With four Rounds in the book, thoughts immediately switch to this weekend’s Anniversary Grand Prix once again at Silverstone, in honour of the very first F1 World Championship race in 1950.
As the 2020 campaign has now been further mapped out until Round 13, Return trips to the Nurburgring and Imola later in the year continue this season’s trend toward something of an F1 homage.
Typically then, the Anniversary GP is set for much socially-distanced pomp and circumstance and despite the on-going and surreal conditions for the 2020 season, Silverstone will be a fitting stage to celebrate F1’s milestone.
The Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone this weekend.
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