Redbull gives you wings – if you don’t drive like a granny
We’re back to a traditional blog for the 70th anniversary race at Silverstone after my rhyming attempt last week, and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. In qualifying, the Hulk definitely did smash with a 3rd place finish which I’m sure took a lot of us by surprise. He had a point to prove after being drafted in as the temporary replacement for Perez, and he stepped up to the challenge to try and potentially gain himself a spot on the grid for 2021.
With Bottas sitting in pole position and Hamilton in 2nd, it was looking like another Mercedes-dominated race but somehow, I could feel that something special was going to happen. The first lap seemed more frantic than usual and we saw Vettel spin out almost immediately. Starting in a humble 12th, he dropped into last place but slowly regained lost ground and made it back to his starting position within 18 laps.
The track was yet again sweltering hot which meant Bottas had already melted his tyres by lap 6. In a situation which gave us flashbacks to last week, both Hamilton and Bottas were fighting against blistering tyres, and Max geared up for the hunt like a Lion preying on an injured gazelle. In a classic moment which will be quoted for months to come, Max rejected his team orders to pit for tyres and politely told his team: “I’m not just going to sit behind like a grandma”. As a new fan of F1 it was so great to see some personality from Max because I often feel like the driver responses are very scripted and carefully worded. We hear things like “we will have to see” and “thanks so much to the team”. To hear that raw emotion and determination from Max made the race much more exciting to watch… to know that he was calling the shots and we were about to see whether it would pay off or not. When Max got the green light over his radio and replied, “so basically we can fully send it”, even I was almost cheering for him to go and pinch the Mercedes crown.
At the moment I feel as though I’m expecting the top 3 to be Hamilton, Max and Bottas. I know that technically it’s always still to play for, but it does remove some of the excitement for me personally. My Fantasy F1 league supports my point, because you’re a hard team to compete with if you have Mercedes as your team. This is why I’m not sure where I stand in the Racing Point protest. I don’t agree with unfair advantages, but I also don’t necessarily have a problem with seeing a mid-field team challenging the top dogs.
I also need to talk about the pit lane speed limit. There’s a pit lane speed limit?
I genuinely had no idea this was a thing and definitely didn’t know there was a line with a speed trap to mark the new speed limit. I only discovered this when Norris locked up on his way back into the pits and the commentators made a point of talking about it. Again, on lap 41 when Hamilton slowed down a tad too late en route to his tyre change and there was uncertainty whether he would face a penalty. Even the commentators weren’t sure what the penalty is for speeding in the pit lane so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to. We never heard anything else on the matter so I’m going to assume that Lewis made it in the nick of time.
While I’m on the topic of tyres and pit stops, I do feel as though most of the race is about timing, tyres and strategy which is something I’m not used to. Coming from a drifting background where we almost shred the tyres in one run, and the focus is more on your line and proximity to the other car. It’s a completely different ball game with F1 and it’s fascinating how team orders can affect a driver’s chances so much. For example, Hulkenberg was called in for a late pit stop which arguably cost him a few places in the race, as he dropped down into 7th after the team put him onto soft tyres (in an effort to secure him an extra point for the fastest lap, which unfortunately he was unable to achieve).
Another team order which caught my attention was Mercedes giving the go ahead to Hamilton and Bottas to race against each other on lap 48. This was for second place and it was refreshing to have the team let fate decide who stays ahead rather than holding a driver back. If we flip the coin on this and look at Vettel who thought his team were affecting his race, I thought it was very cheeky of him to call them out over the radio as if he was their school teacher. “You know you’ve messed up” is a big accusation to make considering he span so early in the race, and I didn’t quite understand why he was so upset with Ferrari. That probably reveals how new I am to the sport but there were quite a few driver/team interactions to analyse and I have to confess my attention was mostly on Hulkenberg.
Nico was actually one of the three drivers who I was torn between for my driver of the day vote. I wanted to vote for him as the underdog but also wanted to side with Verstappen for his display of racing spirit. However, in the end I went with LeClerc because I think he pulled a great result out of the bag from a one-stop race (I think that’s how to use the phrase one-stop but I only discovered it on Sunday). He has outperformed his team mate in almost every race and pushed a car which we all know isn’t performing well. To climb 4 spots to get 4th and keep his pace is a great achievement in my eyes.
It seems that the minds of the UK were in similar turmoil to me as Nico, Max and Charles were the top 3 voted for drivers. I think Max won driver of the day because he was really shaping the race for himself and adding that entertainment factor for the fans with his comments over the radio. Alex Albon is going to have a hard time competing with his own team mate this season, but it’s looking hopeful with some fantastic overtakes and finishing positions.
So to end then, it was Max Verstappen who took the win with his 9th F1 victory closely followed by Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton. Nico Hulkenberg sadly didn’t make it to the podium which I’m sure was a disappointment for many people, and of course there are always some drivers who I haven’t mentioned that put in a great performance. Perhaps next week (fingers crossed) we will see a driver from a different team on the podium.
- Sophie Middleton @MotorsportSoph