Having claimed a well-deserved pole position on Saturday for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, Valtteri Bottas was unable to convert it into a win after a bitterly disappointing British Grand Prix the weekend before. He did however manage to score some valuable points and a podium third place finish.
With a Mercedes front row, many expected the action to be up front between the two teammates as they jostled to win the race, however that was not to be. It did not take long before Max Verstappen was snapping at the heels of second placed Hamilton, being the only driver in the top 10 to start the race on hard compound tyres. He managed his tyre strategy perfectly to get ahead of both Bottas and Hamilton and then lead the rest of the race right to the chequered flag to take a well-deserved victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and in so doing, moving into second place in the Drivers’ Championship, jumping ahead of Bottas and is the first non-Mercedes driver to win a race this season.
Hamilton managed to cross the finish line second, having enjoyed a late-race surge, managing to pass his teammate into Brooklands with just two laps to go and by doing so, has now equalled the number of podium finishes of Michael Schumacher.
Charles Leclerc also managed the tyres on his Ferrari well, making a one-stop strategy work, giving him a fourth-place finish. Teammate Sebastian Vettel faired less well in the second Ferrari, finishing 12th, having spun all on his own at the first corner of the race.
It was another strong race for Alex Albon who crossed the line fifth in the second Red Bull, managing to pass Lance Stroll with just one lap to go, pushing Stroll down to sixth ahead of his stand-in teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who stopped late in the race for a new set of soft tyres and making up for last weekend’s disappointing return to Formula 1.
The last point scoring positions went to Esteban Ocon in eighth, ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris and the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat.
Lewis Hamilton summed up his race, saying: “It was a really challenging race out there today. Fair play to Max on the win, Red Bull didn’t seem to have the same tyre issues we encountered. I’m just grateful that we managed to bring it home in P2 and score some good points. We didn’t expect to struggle with the blistering to the extent we experienced it. The first stint was difficult, in the second stint I was managing the tyres like you cannot believe. I was doing everything I could to nurse the tyres, but it made no difference to the blistering. I was pushing so hard in those final laps to pass Charles and Valtteri that it felt like I was racing with half a tyre at the end. I don’t know if anyone else struggled with the blistering the same way we did, so we’ll have to see what happened today, but I know this team will get on top of it.”
Following the race, an upbeat Charles Leclerc said: “Today feels like a victory, which is not something we like to say when we finish fourth. If you would have told me this morning that I could finish the race in my starting position in 8th, I would have signed immediately.
“In terms of strategy, the team had some concerns about the one-stop approach, looking at what happened to some of the tyres last week. But sometimes, as a driver, you feel something in the car that you can’t see in the data. So I pushed to go for one stop because I believed I could make it work. I am glad that we went for it and that it worked out well.
“Last year, I knew that my weakest point was tyre management. I worked very hard to improve there, and to see the result on track is a huge satisfaction for me.
“I am interested in analysing the data from today and understanding where we found our pace. I was quite impressed, and it was a positive surprise. In tough times like these, we have to take any opportunity we can get, and we did that today, so I am very happy with the result.”
It was a disappointing 70th Anniversary Grand Prix for the Haas Team, with Romain Grosjean finishing 16th and Kevin Magnussen retiring from the race with bad vibrations coming from his second set of tyres on lap 45.
Team Principal, Guenther Steiner summed up the team’s race by saying: “It wasn’t a good afternoon. We tried again with our strategy to do different things, but it didn’t work out. We had to retire Kevin (Magnussen) at the end of the race as there were vibrations and we were not sure anymore how badly they’d affect the suspension. Romain (Grosjean), at some stage, we thought we could get through with a one-stop. We weren’t sure and we didn’t want to take a risk as obviously to get into the points is very difficult anyway. So, there was no point to risk anything. We are happy to be leaving Silverstone, as nice as it was here with the weather and the sunshine, but we want to move on to the next race.”
So, the top ten finishers at this historic 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone were: Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon in fifth, Lance Stroll sixth, then Nico Hulkenberg in the second Racing Point, Esteban Ocon eighth in his Renault, Lando Norris in ninth for McLaren, with the final point going to Daniil Kvyat in his AlphaTauri.
Hamilton leads the Drivers’ Championship with 107 points ahead of Verstappen on 77 points, with Bottas just behind on 73 points. Mercedes extend their lead in the Constructors’ Championship with 180 points, ahead of Red Bull who are on 113 points.
There is no rest for the teams, as they head over to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, with the race taking pace on Sunday 16th August.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Scuderia Ferrari Press Office and Haas F1 Team