Life In The Fast Lane #18: Hamilton wins with three wheels at Silverstone

Words by Tony Robertson (Twitter: @TonyRob84).

Featured image credit: Liberty Media. Image does not meet threshold of originality and is therefore in the public domain.

Welcome back to Overtime Online’s F1 column Life In The Fast Lane.

This week we’re back with the British Grand Prix which is one of the most iconic tracks in the calendar and it certainly delivered this weekend with some dramatic twists right up until the end of the race.

There was a return to F1 for Nico Hulkenberg after Sergio Perez had tested positive for Coronavirus as the former Renault driver was drafted in as a last minute substitute.

So lets get into the race weekend.

Qualifying:

Qualifying saw Lewis Hamilton take pole for the fourth race of the 2020 season as we also saw a staggering three new lap records set across the three sessions, all by Mercedes.

Qualifying one saw another disappointing session for both Haas and Alfa Romeo as they once again failed to drag either car out of Q1 to compete for a better grid position. Alfa have so far failed to get out of Q1 at all this season. George Russell once again managed to get Williams into Q2 but later suffered from a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow down under yellow flags as his teammate Nicholas Latifi spun into at the end of the session.

Q2 saw Valtteri Bottas set a new track record of 1:25.015 while the track was also stopped to clear gravel following a spin for Hamilton at the same spot where Latifi spun in Q1. However, Alex Albon failed to make it out the session, qualifying p12 ahead of late racing point substitute Hulkenberg.

Q1 saw two more new track records set with Hamilton finishing the session on a 1.24:303 allowing him to set his seventh pole at Silverstone. with Bottas just +0:150 off his time. Max Verstappen rounded out the top three with Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris rounding out the top five with Sebastian Vettel a disappointing p10.

Race day:

While today was meant to be a day of return for Hulkenberg, it simply wasn’t to be as he failed to even make the starting grid for the race due to a power unit failure.

As the lights went out Hamilton got off to a blistering start. A polar opposite to fellow brit Norris who lost two positions to Sainz and Ricciardo consequently dropping to p7.

However, the fast racing was to be short-lived as Albon hit the rear right tyre of Kevin Magnussen on the final turn causing him to spin off in the gravel trap and crash into the wall forcing the Dane to retire and triggering a safety car until lap six. This incident also resulted in the Thai international being forced into serving a five second time penalty the next time he went into the pits.

Yet another safety car was triggered a few laps later as Danii Kvyat lost his right rear tyre going into the high-speed corners of Maggotts and Becketts, consequently crashing into the wall and losing his entire front and rear wings and three tyres in the process.

The resulting safety car stayed out until lap 18 and during that time everyone except for the Haas of Romain Grosjean pitted onto hard tyres, hoping to last to the end of the race.

The middle stretch of the race proved quite uneventful except for some battling between Grosjean and the two McLarens and Esteban Ocon trying lap after lap to overtake Lance Stroll.

Lap 50 is when things started to go belly up, depending on your perspective. Valtteri Bottas who had been maintaining a decent race pace behind Hamilton lost his front tyre as it blistered and caused him to cascade down the order drop to p12 after he exited the pit.

The penultinmate lap saw next seasons new Ferrari driver lose his front tyres, also casuing him to lose out on points and putting him in p12.

A few turns later and then it was Hamilton who had massive blistering on his front left tyre and caused it to flatten around Luffield. His gap to the car behind at this stage was 30 seconds since Verstapppen had pitted onto softs to protect against the tyre wear issue which had plagued Bottas shortly before and to boost Red Bull chances of an extra point.

Hamilton was at the end of Hangar straight approaching Stowe just when Verstappen flew past Copse, the gap between the two decreasing by multiple seconds with each turn.

But it was Hamilton who emerged victorious as he managed to drag to three wheel Mercedes across the line with 5.8 seconds to spare and claim his 87th career victory.

Hamilton was fortunate that he managed to limp the car home and still win where as his teammate and only realistic championship rival was unfortunate to drop so far down the order with the same issue a few laps before and completely drop out the points.

Charles Leclerc managed to bring home another podium for Ferrari while Renault scored good points this weekend with Ricciardo in fourth and Ocon in sixth, separated by Lando Norris.

Down the order Bottas didn’t manage to take back a points finish ahaed of Vettel who maintained 10th. Alex Albon ended his race up in p8 while Gasly was p7 with both current and former Red Bull Racing drivers overtaking Lance Stroll in the dying laps of the Grand Prix.

George Russell managed a p12 finish in the end, exploiting the misfortunes and slower pace of those in front of him. Kimi Raikkonen was unfortunately at the back of the grid of those who finished the race, further confirming the relative lack of pace Alfa Romeo continue to have.

Post-race:

The race results mean that Hamilton now has a 30 point gap to his closest rival with just four races done.

Meanwhile the silver lining for the rest of the field is that they have closed the gap on Valtteri Bottas. With third placed Verstappen now just six off the Finn.

Norris also continues to punch above his weight and remains fourth in the driver standings after another strong race for him. Though he was certainly helped by unfortunate situation of his teammate and Bottas.

Ricciardo leaped up the table after bagging some big points today with his best result of the season, also allowing Renault to close the gap to the teams above to 10 points.

While the official F1 driver of the day was Lewis Hamilton i would see fit to give an honourable mention to Daniel Ricciardo who along with Ocons P6 finish brought Renault thier best finish of the season so far.

That just about concludes this weeks column. You can check out column #17 here.

There will be no column for next weeks Silverstone Grand Prix as I will be away but look forward to the next column at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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