A blistering winner in a fitting tribute to F1: Analysis of the 70th Anniversary F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, brought to you by Bahrain International Circuit

Monday, Aug 10th 2020, 6:50 am | Category: Formula One

Organisers will have been praying for something different this week, as F1 returned to where it all began for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, after last weekend’s race at the same circuit offered few surprises, save last minute tyre dramas. Whilst the focus was still tyres, surprises were delivered in spades in a race befitting the celebration of the history of this great championship.

The race began in familiar territory. The Mercedes pair, starting from the front row both got off to a good start leading the way in the first lap. Bottas, having qualified on pole on the day his contract with the team was extended into 2021, had the edge over Hamilton. The main question for the rest of the race, given last week, seemed to be whether, and when, Hamilton would be able to find a way round his teammate.

 


Red Bull, however, had different ideas. As a team, they have never been shy of taking strategic risks and clearly thought that the only way to defeat Mercedes was to do exactly that. On Saturday, the team opted to send Verstappen out on the harder tyre option in Q2 qualifying, meaning they started on that same tyre for the race. As a fact, that may seem a bit niche, it may not sound that exciting to a casual F1 fan, and it possibly doesn’t sound like a piece of strategic mastery which would enable a demonstrably slower car to beat a rival over 52 laps of the English Countryside. The simple fact is that they took this different option and it paid dividends in spectacular fashion. Max Verstappen took victory pretty comfortably in the end, with a gap of over 10 seconds to Hamilton who fought to second place, overtaking Bottas who finished third.

There were, of course, other factors at play, but all interlinked and fundamentally about tyre strategy. Mercedes were clearly right to be paranoid about tyre wear after last week’s blowouts. For this week, the decision had been made by F1 to offer softer types of tyres to the teams, in order to make the race a different challenge and potentially deliver different results. Mercedes clearly struggled to get the tyres to perform, not least because the track temperature had increased by 10 degrees compared to the previous week, as the UK had its annual three days of warm sunshine.

 


In the midfield, Leclerc came an impressive fourth despite Ferrari’s performance struggles, as shown by Vettel finishing just 12th. Albon in the other Red Bull came in a respectable fifth, ahead of the two Racing Points, leaving Ocon, Norris and Kvyat to claim the remaining points in the top ten.

What this race did also show, is that the 2020 championship is far from over. Mercedes seems to struggle in the heat and with Spain and Italy both coming up soon in the heat of the European summer, there may well be a few more surprises to come.

 


Fundamentally, this was a race for the purists and a therefore a great celebration of F1 over the last 70 years. At the same time, it also showed a glimpse of the future of F1. Verstappen yet again showed his mastery of tyre and race management. Charles Leclerc delivered his Ferrari into fourth, a result far better than the performance of the car would suggest. These two, together with Lando Norris, who continues to demonstrate incredible ability in an ever-improving McLaren, are very much seen as the future stars of F1. If it is indeed those three who will become the next generation of world champion contenders, then fans will be in for a real treat as the sport enters another decade.

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