LeClerc and Verstappen: Drivers of the Day at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
On the 70th anniversary of Formula 1 at Silverstone we saw the future of motor racing. Difficult to dispute that the drivers of the day were the eventual winner, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and Ferrari‘s Charles LeClerc who though disadvantaged by his car keeps relentlessly pressing for a podium place, securing fourth on this occasion.
Without taking anything away from Lewis Hamilton, these two young guns are delivering on expectations that as the Hamilton era starts reaching its Zenith they will be fighting each other for a prominent place in Formula 1’s future.
Mercedes Dominance Challenged
It was indeed an unexpectedly thrilling race which saw Mercedes’ “one two” dominance overturned – a surprise befitting the occasion as F1 celebrated 70 years since the F1 championship started at Silverstone in 1950.
Verstappen’s victory was a major upset in the rankings particularly after Mercedes had produced their anticipated winning performance in qualifying, a second clear of the field – the only surprise being Bottas on pole ahead of Hamilton. That did give a chance for a tussle for the drivers championship, rather than watch Hamilton run away with it unchallenged this year.
Very very happy with today's race. I wish we could fight for higher positions but P4 was the absolute maximum we could do. pic.twitter.com/D4ZGXlKD9F
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) August 9, 2020
Verstappen Upsets the Rankings
Little did we expect that it would be Verstappen not Bottas that would end the race lying second overall in the Championship, with Hamilton first but from now on having to fight off not just his team-mate but also the Dutchman from Red Bull.
Tyres a Deciding Factor
Tyres seem to be a bigger part of Formula 1’s story this season. Certainly Verstappen’s choice to start on hard tyres paid off while both the Mercedes had a rough time with their medium tyres blistering.
By Lap 10 in the race Verstappen was already breathing down Hamilton’s neck. When the two Mercedes pitted on Lap 13 and Lap 14 and came out fighting again on new hard tyres, Verstappen, then ahead, even extended his lead – quite a surprise! Skill and a fast Red Bull car kept Mercedes well at bay – and worse for Mercedes they had an unusually severe struggle with their tyres.
When Verstappen pitted on Lap 26 and switched to medium tyres he was able to come out behind Bottas and quickly overtake him on the Luffield bend to maintain his lead and select to pitt again on lap 32 letting Hamilton take the lead until he too with badly blistered tyres pitted late on lap 41.
Now with 11 laps to go and Verstappen back in the lead, even when Hamilton came back out on fresh tyres and set the fastest lap he couldn’t catch the Dutchman who took the checkered flag.
TEAM RADIO HIGHLIGHTS 🍿🎧
Confusion from Charles 😉
Plus tempers, tension, grandmas and more – it's the very best of the airwaves from our second Silverstone weekend ⬇️#F170 🇬🇧 #F1
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 10, 2020
Charles LeClerc Excels
After taking a sublime third last weekend at the British Grand Prix, starting fourth on the grid, LeClerc had a disappointing qualifying this time around at eighth.
All the more credit to him that in the race his driving was exceptional. It’s a great test to have to compete in the disappointingly slow car that Ferrari has provided this season. Making a one-stop strategy succeed with remarkable driving and finishing fourth, in its own way made him as much “driver of the day” as Verstappen. Charles is lying fourth in the Championship overall.
Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a day he would like to forget almost losing control of his car at the first corner and thus limping to 12th place.
A Red Bull-backed superstar winning in Silverstone?@FIA_F2 beat us to it! Japan's @yuki_TY0511 took his maiden F2 win on Sunday 💪#RoadToF1 #F2 pic.twitter.com/gV2cTV4X9E
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 10, 2020
First – Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Second – Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Third – Valerie Bottas, Mercedes
Fourth – Charles LeClerc, Ferrari
Though second behind Verstappen, Hamilton does have something to celebrate equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 152 podium finishes.
Next week Barcelona, Spain with Mercedes at last challenged by Red Bull.