The 2020 Formula 1 British Grand Prix was held at the Silverstone racetrack, which hosted the first-ever F1 World Championship round in 1950. The circuit is located at the Northamptonshire County in England, which is also home to most of the F1 team factories. This was 4th round of the Formula One 2020 season, and after Mercedes won the opening three rounds of the season, the form guide suggested another Mercedes victory.
Verstappen Narrowly Wins His First Podium of the Formula One 2020 Season
Hamilton had won British Grand Prix six times and was looking for a record 7th race win on home soil. Mercedes dominated the whole weekend, and after locking out the front row on Saturday, they were on course for a 1-2 finish before left tyre failure put Bottas out of the points, with Hamilton making it to the chequered flag on three tyres. Max Verstappen nearly missed out on his first win of the season, and Charles Leclerc took the second podium of the season for the Scuderia.
Thursday Pre-Race Prep: Hulkenberg replaces Perez in the 2020 British Grand Prix
Weather forecast for the British Grand Prix was dry with some chance of light rain through the weekend. Sergio Perez of Racing Point visited his sick mother in Mexico during the 2-week period between Hungarian GP and British GP. The first COVID-19 test was inconclusive, so on Thursday, the second COVID-19 test came out positive, and as a result, he was unable to take part in the 2020 British Grand Prix. Nico Hulkenberg was rushed in as his replacement for the British GP and Sergio might miss the next week’s 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone due to 10 days mandatory quarantine period by FIA.
McLaren introduced a significant upgrade package for the MCL35, which included a new floor, new front wing and a new rear wing. The tight midfield battle is the one to watch for throughout the 2020 F1 season.
Friday Practice: Mercedes showed quickest race pace
Teams and drivers completed their scheduled Friday program without any problem. Max Verstappen topped the first practice session, while Lance Stroll of Racing Point went quickest of all during the FP2. Each team has its different run plan, engine settings and fuel load levels. All these variables make it difficult to get an accurate picture of pecking order from timesheets. After crunching numbers from both the practise sessions, it was Mercedes which was quickest over the single lap pace. Red Bull and Point both evenly matched but 0.5sec/lap slower than the Silver Arrows. Ferrari and McLaren completed the top five with a gap to Mercedes of 0.8sec/lap.
Race pace analysis only shuffled the order slightly with Mercedes again as the team to beat followed by Red Bull 0.1sec/lap slower. Then there was quite a gap back to the midfield teams with Racing Point showing the potential to be the best of the rest. McLaren, after confirming that they will continue with their new aero package showed some good race pace. Ferrari looked good in the hands of Charles Leclerc, but Vettel struggled to handle the low downforce aero setup on the Scuderia. Ferrari was a massive 1.5sec/lap slower than the Mercedes with a lot of degradation on soft tyres.
Saturday Practice: Silver Arrows still the fastest team
Mercedes unleashed the pace on Saturday morning and went quickest at the head of the field, and it looked like the battle for pole position was going to be between two teammates. Red Bull looked quick but no match for the mighty Mercedes. Racing Point, McLaren and Ferrari all looked likely to be in the top five teams and all within a second of time set by Bottas.
Qualifying Round for the 2020 Formula One British GP
Q1 saw no big surprises as teams and drivers expected to be eliminated during the first part of qualifying did not disappoint. Two Alfa Romeo’s and both Haas drivers along with the Williams rookie driver Nicholas Latifi was knocked out. George Russell was again the star of the Q1 session but later got a penalty for failing to slow under yellow flags when his teammate spun during his final run in Q1.
In the second part of qualifying both Mercedes drivers, Verstappen, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc went out on a set of medium tyres to qualify on a more durable and better race tyre. Alexander Albon was the disappointment of the session after failing to qualify for Q3 in the second race on a row while being in a second fastest car on the grid. Both Alpha Tauri’s and Nico Hulkenberg also missed the cut.
The battle for pole position was between the two Mercedes drivers. Bottas was going nicely and was faster than Hamilton but lost time in the final sector and slotted into second place behind his teammate. Lewis smashed the previous circuit record by four-tenths to take provisional pole position.
Final runs saw Bottas claw some time back, but Hamilton went even quicker and set new track record time again to take his third consecutive pole position in the Formula 1 2020 season and 91st of his career. Behind them, Max qualified P3 nearly a second slower, Leclerc a good 4th for Scuderia, Norris a brilliant 5th for McLaren, Stroll P6, Sainz 7th, Ricciardo 8th, Ocon 9th and Vettel 10th.
Sunday Race: Hamilton broke several records to win the 2020 Formula 1 British GP
The race on Sunday was divided into three parts. The first half was about safety cars, the middle part was under normal race conditions, and the last part was about tyre failures and a dramatic finish to the race.
Bottas made a good start when the lights went out, but in the second stage of the start, Hamilton consolidated his P1 slot and emerged ahead of Bottas into turn 3. Behind them, Sainz made a brilliant start and was running 5th before the end of lap 1. Fast starting Albon crashed into Kevin Magnussen of Haas and resulted in the first safety car of the race. Racing resumed on lap 6, and after six more laps, Kvyat in his Alpha Tauri crashed heavily while going through Maggots. Most of the drivers pitted for Hard tyres during lap 13 and 14. The safety car was in at the end of lap 19, and Mercedes pulled out a comfortable lead over Verstappen.
Ten laps before the end of the race, both Mercedes drivers had visible blisters on the front left tyre and were managing the situation well. On lap number 50 Bottas front left tyre failed while going through turn 3 and limped back to the pits and dropped from 2nd to outside of the top 10. Max took the chance and pitted on the same lap to get the point for fastest lap.
Hamilton's front left tyre also failed on the last lap but somehow managed to take the flag 6 seconds ahead of Verstappen to claim the 3rd consecutive race win in the 2020 Formula One championships. He finished the race on three tyres and broke the record of Ayrton Senna of leading most races (19 in total) from start to finish. He also broke the record by winning 7th home Grand Prix and moved ahead of Alain Prost who won the French GP six times. He is only four behind the 91 race wins record of the great Michael Schumacher.
Carlos Sainz of McLaren was another victim of left front tyre failure and was going to finish 4th, but on the second last lap, the tyre failure put him out of points as well. Charles Leclerc finished 3rd claiming a second podium of the season for the Ferrari team. Ricciardo a season-best for Renault, Norris 5th, Ocon 6th, Gasly a fantastic 7th, Albon 8th, Stroll finished 9th after struggling in the race mode and Vettel 10th.
Next weekend, it is the 5th race of the Formula One 2020 season at the Silverstone track called the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix 2020. Watch out and stay tuned at Carpart.com.au!