Dhe blue racing cars in front? Look again. No, that was not an optical illusion when Max Verstappen raced through the Silverstone finish in the Red Bull and then no other car appeared for eleven seconds: Until the first black racer with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel and then his teammate Valtteri Bottas behind it: the series winner Mercedes beaten on their own terrain, in Silverstone, and then at the 70th anniversary Grand Prix of Formula 1.
Verstappen laughed and spoke not only for his team: “What a wonderful surprise.” Sebastian Vettel waited in vain for such a feeling of happiness. When the Grand Prix was about tire pressures to the point of bursting, the Ferrari driver was out of breath: only twelfth because of a spin in the first corner.
Vettel in the back
Can someone else win? This variant does not fit into the self-image of Hamilton. Silverstone is said to be his kingdom. And so after the start he chased his team-mate from Finland, who had repeatedly managed to exploit the Englishman’s weaknesses in recent years. Hamilton put five laps under pressure after Botta started, repeatedly pushing the gap to less than a second, the benchmark for a promising attack. But Bottas did not allow himself the slightest hint of error.
In contrast to Vettel. The Heppenheimer shot off from eleven on the grid, but already when accelerating out of the first corner he lost control of the Ferrari for a short time when the tires were spinning. When the driver and bolide got back on track, the field had passed: last. And so, from a German perspective, the eyes initially turned to the compatriot in the field: Where is Hülkenberg? In fourth place in the first Grand Prix after 252 days without racing experience in Formula 1. Chapeau. But the Rhinelander could not keep up the pace of the front at his Racing Point. After ten laps, the Mercedes faction was a good ten seconds ahead, closely followed by the Dutchman Verstappen in the Red Bull.
what happened there? Hamilton only second and Mercedes not alone in the wide corridor of the former military airport? When kings were still visiting Formula 1, around May 13th for the premiere of Formula 1 in 1950, King George VI., The red carpet was rolled out. Verstappen gave the kings of modern Formula 1 no respite on Sunday. Having started on hard tires, he stayed 13 laps longer until the first pit stop in the roundabout, took the lead from the Silver Arrows pilots who had turned off for tire service and surprised with better lap times on the used tires. “I only manage the (tire) front left a bit,” he called and cheekily dismissed the warning from his racing engineers to watch out for the rubber. The Mercedes wears the tires faster in the heat, which also warned the team leaders to be careful: At the first race at Silverstone on August 2nd, Hamilton managed to cross the finish line as the winner despite a dissolving left front tire. Bottas fell from second to 13th for the same reason.
On Sunday, Hamilton complained of blisters on his tires. And Verstappen? He lost his lead in the first, this time not the ultra-fast pit stop at Bottas, which is typical for Red Bull. But back on the slopes, he didn’t hesitate for long. After a few seconds it appeared in the rearview mirror of the Mercedes driver. His team boss Christian Horner inhaled for a moment. When the Briton exhaled, he saw his chief pilot again in the lead and in the position of the favorite for the day’s victory. As the? “Verstappen has to drive with lower tire pressures,” said Hamilton at full speed. At 300 km / h in the upper room, champions have the freedom to combine everything mentally. For example, disregarding the tire manufacturer, who makes specifications for the air pressure, in order not to be held liable.
Hamilton seemed to burst when he looked at his tires and saw Verstappen fly away, including Bottas from his own stable. Even Leclerc in the Ferrari passed by. What can you do with new tires on the last eight laps and a few tenths of a second behind the Ferrari man? Best times in series. Rushed into the red racer by a hair, because Leclerc jagged in the braking zone at 300 km / h, as it is heavily forbidden in Formula 1 today. The maneuver may have pushed Hamilton’s heart rate up into the red. But he immediately left her and Leclerc behind and chased Bottas: Four laps left, 1.1 seconds behind in the team’s internal duel. “You have free travel,” was the command from the pit wall. A nice move. But of no great importance. The first attack was enough for a safe overtaking maneuver and an in-house correction: The boss drove forward again and so to the finish, albeit eleven seconds behind Verstappen. Bottas complained of a bad strategy to his disadvantage.
The question remained about the Germans: Hulkenberg? Seventh, still behind his team-mate because of a third pit stop because the set of tires caused vibrations. And Vettel? Twelfth without points. Another, arduous afternoon that the four-time world champion did not allow to pass without displeasure at the misfortune of his strategists. In his opinion, they had taken him out of traffic too early to change tires. When Vettel returned to the race, he was stuck behind slower colleagues. “We discussed it this morning, that was quark,” said the Hessian. Ferrari accepted the criticism calmly. The Scuderia had bet on Leclerc. The Monegasque made no mistake.