The extent to which Mercedes dominated the 2020 British Grand Prix was so great that it allowed Lewis Hamilton to cross the finishing line and secure victory with only three fully intact tyres. Hamilton was one of three drivers to experience left front tyre delamination during the closing stages of the Grand Prix. The other notable recipient of misfortune was Valtteri Bottas. The Mercedes duo had a dictator like grip on the race proceedings, a 1-2 finish seemed like the most predictable and boring outcome. Indeed the 51 lap race was devoid of action at the front. Max Verstappen was a distant third place to the Mercedes ahead of him. The Red Bull Honda looked more like a stranded vessel caught up in a rip tide slowly floating out to sea.
Daniel Kvyat provided drama for all but the wrong reasons. The Alpha Tauri driver crashed heavily on lap 12 at the Maggots section of the Silverstone circuit. Maggots is a fearsome series of bends, the apex is entered in top gear followed by four more high-speed corners that progressively tighten towards the last apex. It’s very rare for a Formula One car to lose it on the point of entry unless a failure occurs.
However, in this case, the cause was nothing more than driver error. Kvyat was changing some buttons on his steering wheel, became momentarily distracted, clipped the kerb at 180mph and lost the car completely. The resulting impact was heavy, but the Russian walked away with nothing more than damaged pride. At this point, even the safety car period was more interesting than the race, which was largely processional.
However with two laps to go the boredom turned into instant-ready-made drama as Valtteri Bottas suffered a left front tyre failure. The comfortable second place was taken away in an instant. Bottas trundled slowly back to the pits. By the time he rejoined the race he was down in 11th behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, and that’s where he finished.
Then with less than half a lap to go Lewis Hamilton also suffered the exact same issue. However, Hamilton’s lead was such that he managed to limp his way to victory with just 6 seconds separating him from a fast closing Max Verstappen. It was a temporarily exciting end to a largely boring race. Charles Leclerc rounded up the top three with a fortunate finish, largely benefiting from Bottas’ demise from second.
Despite having excessive dominance Mercedes are still exposed to events beyond their control. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also suffered the exact same tyre failure. Pirilli, who supply the tyres to F1, are investigating. However Mercedes pushed the tyre window to its limit. Possibly believing that their DAS system provided a significant advantage in maintaining tyre integrity beyond the normal operating window.
Nevertheless, Mercedes could not be defeated even with three wheels. Hamilton now leads Bottas by 30 points and looks set to notch up his 7th world title.
2020 British Grand Prix, Silverstone: Race Results
Note – Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Giovinazzi received a 5-second time penalty for failing to slow under the safety car. The classification of both Racing Point cars is provisional, subject to the outcome of any decision concerning a protest over their legality from the Renault team.