Verstappen strategy stuns Mercedes at Silverstone

Max Verstappen wins for the first time in 2020 as Mercedes struggle with tyre wear at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 09, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // AP-24VY1B8T12111 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen has won his first race of the 2020 Formula 1 season, making an alternative tyre strategy work to get the better of the Mercedes cars at Silverstone.

Valtteri Bottas had to settle for third after starting on pole position, with teammate Lewis Hamilton overtaking him late on to take second.

There were early issues for Sebastian Vettel, as the Ferrari man spun on the opening lap, dropping him to the back to the field.

Hamilton challenged his teammate for the lead on the opening lap, but Bottas defended to keep the reigning champion behind. Once getting the hard tyres up to temperature, Verstappen started to challenge Hamilton, who was starting to struggle on the mediums. Both Mercedes had to come in for fresh tyres, allowing the Red Bull driver to take over at the front of the field.

Despite Verstappen being on older tyres, he continued to extend his lead at the front, but the Silver Arrows – both using a second set of mediums – soon found themselves struggling with tyre wear again. Bottas regained the lead once Verstappen came into the pits, but it took the Dutchman just a couple of corners to cruise past.

Verstappen and Bottas came into the pits at the same time, with Verstappen remaining in front as they rejoined the track. Having stayed out, Hamilton took over at the front of the field, but continued to report problems with his tyres.

Kevin Magnussen caught the attention of the stewards after running wide while looking to pass Nicholas Latifi, almost collecting the Canadian as he rejoined the track to earn himself a five-second time penalty.

There was a closely-fought contest in the midfield, with the McLaren, Renault and AlphaTauri drivers among those battling for the lower points positions. Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz got a little too close, costing the Australian a couple of places as he spun.

Mercedes continued to leave Hamilton out at the front, seemingly considering a one-stop strategy for the Briton, despite obvious signs of wear on his tyres.

One driver who looked comfortable making the one-stop strategy work was Charles Leclerc, as he found himself in fourth and closing the gap to Bottas, despite being on much older tyres than the Finn.

As Red Bull upped the pace to reduce the gap to Hamilton, Mercedes decided to bring him into the pits, dropping Hamilton behind Leclerc, but giving him better rubber.

Hamilton soon closed up to the back of Leclerc, and made quick work of the overtake to reclaim a podium place, turning his attention to his teammate ahead of him.

All 20 cars made it to lap 45, but Magnussen became the first retirement when Haas called him into the pit again, instructing him to stop the car.

Nico Hulkenberg made a late pitstop and put on the soft tyres, with Racing Point seemingly eyeing a big for fastest lap, but Hamilton’s fresh hard tyres showed stronger pace.

Hamilton closed up to the back of Bottas with three laps remaining, with the Finn’s tyres showing blisters. Bottas tried to defend, but Hamilton’s later pitstop ensured he had the superior grip, gifting him a comfortable pass a couple of corners later to wrap up second.

Provisional classification:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)

6. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

7. Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point)

8. Esteban Ocon (Renault)

9. Lando Norris (McLaren)

10. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)

11. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

12. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

13. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

14. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

15. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

16. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

18. George Russell (Williams)

19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)


Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

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