MEDIA RELEASE/Aston martin F1 Team - Photo: supplied Otmar, what does it mean to you…
The 2020 edition of the British Grand Prix had all the elements of a classic thriller. Loaded with twists, turns and drama at every corner, the outcome was never really known until the chequered flag fell. History will record Lewis Hamilton as a seven time winner of his home Grand Prix, but the manner in which he limped a wounded Mercedes to the line will never be borne out by that alone.
The drama began some time before the lights went out to start the race. Nico Hulkenberg’s British Grand Prix dream came unstuck as the cars were called to the grid in preparation for the race. As team’s fired up the engines, Hulkenberg’s Racing Point Mercedes refused to co-operate.
WATCH THE RACE HIGHLIGHTS HERE
Lewis Hamilton just managed to hold off the challenges of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen through turn 1 at the start of the race. Charles Leclerc swept around the Red Bull at turn two, but the Dutch driver was not prepared to concede and ran side by side with the Ferrari. Lando Norris was also challenged by Lance Stroll for fifth as Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon also fought for track position. Kimi Raikonen was forced to take avoiding action further down the field and took to the run off area as the cars snaked through turns 3 and 4.
Hamilton led from Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Stroll and Ricciardo down the Hanger Straight for the first time. A tussle between the two McLaren drivers allowed and opportunistic Ricciardo to pounce and take both Stroll and Norris for fifth.
Kevin Magnussen’s race came to an abrupt halt at Club Corner on lap 1 after contact from Alex Albon saw the Haas momentarily airborne as it bounced across the track, skipped over the gravel and slam into the tyre barrier. The impact tore the left front wheel from the suspension. The Safety Car was called before the dust had begun to settle.
The race resumed on lap 6 with Hamilton ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris, Stroll, Ocon and Vettel. Albon pitted for the hard compound tyres on lap 7 after complaining of a vibration in his Red Bull. Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest laps as the pair edged out to a 5 second lead over Verstappen in third place.
A second Safety Car period ensued after Daniil Kvyat had a high speed cash at Maggots corner. The Russian driver lost control of his Alpha Tauri mid corner with what appeared to be a deflated right rear tyre and slammed heavily into the barriers on the left side of the car.
“Oh guys, I’m so sorry,” radioed Kvyat to his team as the majority of the field made their compulsory pit stop for the hard compound tyres, while the marshals recovered the heavily damaged Alpha Tauri. The Safety Car remained on track for a further seven laps before the race resumed on lap 19.
Hamilton continued to lead from Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Grosjean, Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris, Stroll and Vettel. Ricciardo came under fire from Norris and eventually lost the position when sandwiched between the two McLarens. Norris ran wide shortly after but the Renault driver was unable to capitalise on the error.
Albon pitted for a second time on lap 31 to serve a five second penalty for the early incident with Magnussen. The Red Bull team then switched their driver to the medium compound tyres for the final 21 laps of the race.
Romain Grosjean maintained a spirited defence of his 5th position only to succumb to the two McLarens after he had received a warning for a late swerve as Sainz moved past. Ricciardo demoted the Haas driver to 8th on lap 36 at Brooklands despite another late swerve from Grosjean which almost took out both cars. Stroll also moved past Grosjean at Stowe corner on the same lap.
“That was sketchy,” Daniel Riccardo said of Grosjean’s move to his engineer.
Hamilton and Bottas held a 10 second lead over Verstappen as the race counted down towards the final laps of the race, though both Mercedes drivers reported vibrations from blistering on the right front tyre. Leclerc sat a further 26 seconds further back with the McLaren a further 4 seconds in arrears. The final five laps of the race saw a number of drivers suffer from tyre degradation with Kimi Raikkonen also falling victim to a left front wing failure that punctured his left front tyre and sent him back to the pits for repairs. Valtteri Bottas slowed on lap 50 with a delaminated left front tyre. Max Verstappen assumed 2nd place and then stopped on lap 51 for a set of soft compound tyres and a chance to grab the fastest lap of the race. Bottas eventually returned to the pits for soft compound tyres and dropped down to 12th place. Sainz became another driver to have a left front puncture on the final lap of the race as Daniel Ricciardo leapfrogged past the McLaren for 4th place.
Lewis Hamilton’s left front tyre also gave out on the final lap, just a few corners from the finish. The World Champion limped across the line with the tyre barely moving and a trail of sparks leaping out from underneath the Mercedes. Verstappen finished 2nd from Leclerc, Ricciardo, Norris, Ocon, Gasly, Albon, Stroll and Vettel. Ricciardo’s 4th place was Renault’s best result at Silverstone since 2006.
“That was close,” Hamilton said as he limped the #44 Mercedes towards Parc Ferme. “Up until the last lap everything was smooth sailing and the tyres felt great. Valtteri was really pushing that tyre and I was doing some management. So when I heard that is tyre went I was looking at mine and everything seemed fine and the car was turning fine, so I was thinking that everything was maybe okay. I started backing off and then on the last lap the tyre just deflated on the straight. I noticed it shake a bit and it was like heart in the mouth because I wasn’t sure of the brakes because I could see the tyre falling off the rim. I was just praying I could get it around not too slow. I nearly didn’t get it around the last couple of corners but thank God we did,” Hamilton explained during the winners interview.
C. Sainz Jr.
Photos: F1.com and Twitter
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