Race Weekend Central

Lewis Hamilton Delivers Another Masterful Performance at the British GP

In what seemed another fait accompli for Lewis Hamilton, the Brit found late-race trouble and eked his Mercedes across the finish for his record-setting seventh British Grand Prix win.  Max Verstappen took second, himself unsure of his ability to finish.  Charles Leclerc drove his Ferrari to a solid if quiet third-place.

Daniel Ricciardo benefited from late-race drama and used the benefit to snag fourth in a race when his Renault seemed sluggish for so much of the event.  Lando Norris looked sporty again in taking fifth, while Esteban Ocon showed some late speed and sixth.

Pierre Gasly put on a show to make his way up into the points and took seventh.  The drive of the day might have come from Alex Albon whose weekend can best be described as up-and-down, and who took eighth.

Lance Stroll looked much less than his qualifying effort of fourth and wound up in ninth as Sebastian Vettel finished where he started in tenth.

The Race

The start offered a solid a delightful opening sequence as, following the Mercedes pair, spots two through ten swapped throughout the first lap.  The fabulous start faded into a stop-and-go affair with two safety car periods for the Albon – Magnussen collision on lap one, then Daniil Kvyat smacking the barrier on lap 13.

Once free of the erratic early laps, the race rolled into a more standard parade that has come to dominate many Sundays.  Most of the drama came from Romain Grosjean trying to hold his place near the front of the field after using a contrarian strategy of not pitting during the second safety car period.

Grosjean fought both the McLarens, earning a warning for unsafe driving under braking, then tried to hold off Ricciardo and Stroll before yielding and finally pitting.

On lap 48, Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing came apart and left debris across the track.  Bottas, holding a steady second-place position, then watched his right front come apart and pitted for fresh tyres that dropped him through the running order.

Carlos Sainz then endured much of the same issue as Bottas and pitted.

To add to the unraveling of the race, Hamilton then endured the same tyre failure, and drove his car across the line with only three functioning tyres.

Whether or not Raikkonen’s front wing may have been the cause for the tyre problems or instead that the teams pushed too far on the softs will be up for debate.  Regardless, the drama at the end made for good theatre and a fascinating ending.

The Good

Mercedes is an unfeeling machine with a prime directive of embarrassing every other team on track.  They outqualify the field by a large and commanding margin.  They cruise through the race once out in front, managing the race with icy precision.  Any sense of drama feels manufactured as they seem to find no real imminent threats.

That’s what made Sunday’s British GP intriguing as Hamilton limped his Mercedes to the win while Bottas was forced to pit and finished 11th.  Apparently the weakness for the Silver Arrows right now is that they blister the tyres a bit too much.

Hamilton’s win makes it his third consecutive this season and widens his gap in the championship standings to 30 points above Bottas.

Renault may have needed three drivers to suffer tyre issues, but the team recorded its best finish of the season with fourth and sixth.  The French organization still look a bit adrift, as McLaren, the team they supply engines to shows more pace, but the race results have to be a bit of a salve for their performance woes.

The Bad

Kevin Magnussen tangled with Alex Albon on the end of lap one with Magnussen feeling the worse for it.  He spun into the tyre barriers and his left front wheel popped off from the impact bringing out a safety car at the end of the first lap.

Magnussen had clipped the kerb one turn earlier causing him to fall off the racing line and providing an opportunity for Albon to make up a spot.  Instead, Magnussen missed the charging Red Bull and the two collided with Magnussen bouncing off Albon’s left front.  Albon pitted to switch his tyres but continued on.

The stewards awarded Albon with a five-second penalty for the collision.

– The Sky Sports announcers asserted that Vettel in his Ferrari had “no apparent pace” and there may not be a more apt description for how uninspiring his race looked.  Both Ferraris looked incapable of challenging anyone on the track and the more this season progresses, the more it looks like Ferrari have been neutered after their sealed agreement made with the FIA regarding their engines over the offseason.

– Daniil Kvyat pounded his AlphaTauri into the barrier on lap 13 after what looked like a puncture to his car’s right rear tyre.  The impact brought out a second safety car as well as the medical car because Kvyat’s impact registered above the 20g threshold.  Kvyat tried to take the blame for the incident but, for a driver who has brought about his fair share of frustrating moments, he was not at fault but the puncture seemed a strange moment as the Pirellis have been durable over the past few years.

The Questions

Nico Hulkenberg made a surprise return to the F1 paddock when Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was forced to sit out because of a positive Coronavirus test.  Hulkenberg’s busy weekend came to an anticlimactic conclusion when his car failed to start.

While Hulkenberg had been slated to start 13th, fans and pundits wondered if he might score his first podium.  On the positive side, Hulkenberg will resume his podium-quest next weekend when he will again be slated to be driving in place of Perez.

Red Bull gave away a win in order to chase one point.  The team sought to get Verstappen the bonus point for fastest lap and pitted him with two laps to go, and in doing so, gift-wrapped the win to Hamilton.

Had the team left Verstappen home he would have passed Hamilton is his ailing car with ease and stolen the win.  Instead, the team will have to mull their strategy and how they missed a golden opportunity.  The phrase “hindsight is 20-20” may be used as a defense, and a good one, they still must examine the thinking of what is to be gained by one championship point.


British Grand Prix 2020 Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 52 1:28:01.283 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 52 +5.856s 19
3 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 52 +18.474s 15
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 52 +19.650s 12
5 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 52 +22.277s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon RENAULT 52 +26.937s 8
7 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 52 +31.188s 6
8 23 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING HONDA 52 +32.670s 4
9 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 52 +37.311s 2
10 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 52 +41.857s 1
11 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 52 +42.167s 0
12 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 52 +52.004s 0
13 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 52 +53.370s 0
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 52 +54.205s 0
15 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 52 +54.549s 0
16 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 52 +55.050s 0
17 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 51 +1 lap 0
NC 26 Daniil Kvyat ALPHATAURI HONDA 11 DNF 0
NC 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1 DNF 0


About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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Tom B

What’s up with Christian Horner calling Lewis Hamilton a “Lucky Boy, Lucky Boy” over the radio to Max. Sounds like passive racism. Also will there be a protest against Hamilton for not parking his car because he was spewing debris on to the track in front of the whole field? That is the rule.

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