Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2020

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Max Verstappen

Red Bull put Verstappen on an alternative strategy in qualifying and he was the only driver to make it through Q2 on the hard tyre. This was a gutsy call which only narrowly came off – he fell to ninth place at the end of the session.

It proved a worthwhile decision, however. From fourth position Verstappen quickly dispensed with Nico Hulkenberg’s Racing Point into Abbey at the start.

Verstappen stayed close to the Mercedes drivers throughout the first stint and applied fierce pressure to Hamilton as the Mercedes driver began to struggle on his medium tyres. The Red Bull was so quick on its hard tyres Verstappen was able to run longer than Hamilton and jump ahead.

Had it not been for a slightly slow pit stop he might have emerged from the pits ahead of Valtteri Bottas as well. Not that it mattered, for he easily passed the leading Mercedes through Brooklands and Luffield.

Bottas’ older hard tyres were no match for Verstappen’s new mediums, which he dispensed with after six laps. He ran a set of hard tyres to the end and became the first driver this year to beat Mercedes to victory.

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2020
Leclerc one-stopped to a fine fourth
Ferrari were clearly less competitive in the second weekend at Silverstone – a combination of the rising temperatures and softer tyre compounds. Leclerc felt he maximised the car’s pace in qualifying, but it was only good enough for eighth.

He dropped two positions on the opening lap and stopped on lap 18 for hard tyres. Having urged his team to let him run a one-stop strategy, he stretched his second stint out to 34 laps, rising to third until Hamilton’s much faster Mercedes appeared in his mirrors. This was the longest stint of any driver, and though his tyres weren’t in great shape by the end of it, he was the first one-stopper home in an excellent fourth place.

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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel’s rough season continued
Vettel stopped with more reliability problems at the end of second practice and had his whole engine replaced as a precaution. On Saturday he was eliminated in Q2 for the second week in a row.

Starting first of those on new tyres in 11th should have given him an advantage. But he spun it away at the exit of Abbey, which left him on the back foot for the rest of the day.

His comeback drive wasn’t aided by an awkward strategy which saw him run on the hard for 11 laps in his second stint and the medium tyre for the final 22 laps of the race. He was unhappy at being dropped back into traffic, but that spin had already wrecked his afternoon.

Lance Stroll

Being out-qualified by the substitute driver was another reminder Stroll still needs to work on his one-lap pace. He ran behind Hulkenberg until his team mate began to suffer tyre blistering and had to make an extra pit stop.

Stroll was likely never going to be able to keep the faster Red Bull of Alexander Albon behind him, but Hulkenberg’s pit stop spared his blushes.

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And the rest

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020
Bottas pipped Hamilton to pole position
Bottas snatched pole from Hamilton by less than a tenth and stayed ahead at the start, but both drivers struggled with blisters during the first stint. Hamilton’s longer middle stint gave him fresher tyres to attack Bottas at the end of the race; his defenceless team mate dropped to third with three laps remaining.

Hulkenberg qualified a superb third but a blistered left-rear tyre cost him the chance to finish ahead of his team mate.

Qualifying was Albon’s weakness again: He was just under half a second slower than Verstappen in qualifying and started ninth. An early pit stop forced him onto a two-stop strategy and while he struggled to make headway at first, once the ‘DRS train’ thinned out he picked off the cars ahead with a series of eye-catching overtakes. Fifth place was a good recovery, again.

Esteban Ocon struggled in qualifying and picked up a three-place grid penalty for blocking Russell during Q1. However gained two positions on the opening lap and, like Leclerc, was patient enough to make the one-stop strategy work. He rose six places to finish eighth.

From fifth on the grid after a fine qualifying effort, Daniel Ricciardo got stuck in traffic after his first pit stop which destroyed his tyres. He dropped down the order even further when he spun on the inside of Carlos Sainz Jnr at Abbey. Ricciardo made up a couple of places following his spin and finished 14th.

Lando Norris out-qualified Sainz, who was having to use less efficient bodywork to aid his engine cooling. They started 10th and 13th respectively. Sainz was making good progress until an equipment failure caused a slow pit stop. Norris chiselled out a ninth-place finish on a day when the McLaren wasn’t at its best.

Gasly’s fine qualifying effort came to naught
AlphaTauri had the makings of a great weekend for Pierre Gasly but squandered it with his strategy. Gasly took his car into Q3 – Daniil Kvyat having gone out in Q1 – but an early pit stop after starting on mediums left him in heavy traffic. He finished behind Kvyat, who bagged the final point.

Magnussen lacked pace compared to Grosjean all weekend; he suspected the floor change following his British Grand Prix crash was responsible for much of his seven-tenths deficit in qualifying. He made a great start, gaining four positions, but his pace remained poor in the race. Magnussen struggled to look after his tyres as well, and the team eventually decided to retire him rather than throw a set of softs at the car. Grosjean started on the medium which slightly compromised his race and he finished 16th.

Alfa Romeo occupied the back row of the grid, Antonio Giovinazzi fractionally faster than Kimi Raikkonen. However Raikkonen’s one-stop strategy moved him up to 15th in the race, which appears to be close to the ceiling of performance for the C39.

Giovinazzi gained four positions on the opening lap but was jumped by Raikkonen’s quicker strategy after a seven-lap opening stint which forced him to run longer on his next two sets of tyres.

George Russell’s Q2 appearances are starting to look routine. Unfortunately so are his indifferent starts. Russell sustained his run of finishes ahead of his rookie team mate, both having been forced to make extra pit stops after reporting serious tyre worries.

Over to you

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Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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12 comments on “2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Stars: VER, and LEC.
    Strugglers: STR, RIC, VET, and GAS..

    1. I don’t see STR as a struggler.
      I wouldn’t declare RIC a struggler after 1 Seb-spin
      GAS I don’t get at all; it was the strategy that ruined his race.
      I was less impressed with Sainz than all of those.

      1. @coldfly Yes, I could’ve added Sainz as well, but didn’t because of him finishing more or less where he started, while Gasly finished a few places below his starting position of P7. Norris couldn’t get the best out of his strategy either but managed to get back into the points, and Albon similarly stopped ‘early’ and got stuck in traffic to an extent but didn’t suffer from his strategy like Gasly, who rejoined in front of him from the pits.

    2. To call Ric and Gas strugglers is to not understand at all how hamstrung both were by poor strategy calls and the crap Pirelli tried to pass off as racing tires.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        12th August 2020, 14:18

        Ricciardo didn’t help himself at all by spinning. And his spin will not have helped his tyres at all which will have made his strategy a lot worse. Kimi did a 1 stop and managed to go to the end from lap 26. Ricciardo’s 2nd stop was on the same lap. He could potentially also got to the end from here if he didn’t ruin his tyres with the spin – although it will have been hard.

  2. Can’t see why Magnussen isn’t a struggler.
    He only had two great moments in the weekend.
    1) the start. He might be in top 3 in the field of best starts. Amazing.
    2) retired the car at the end.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      12th August 2020, 13:41

      Agree magnussen should be a struggler. He retired because there were no suitable tyres available. Possibly because he’d wrecked them himself though. But his speed was nowhere after the first lap and his driving was very poor. Grosjean got what was realistic out of the car this time out.

    2. Yes Magnussen and Haas were disgraceful and embarrassing. Preferring to retire the car rather than run an embarrassing last.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    12th August 2020, 14:06

    Agree with the star performers. 2 other drivers that I also did very well were Kvyat and Ocon. Finishing in the top 10 for Kvyat with only a Haas retiring was pretty impressive.

    Strugglers: Vettel is correct, though i thought it was harsh to include him last weekend given he had no realistic chances in practice to, well practice. But this time, he truly looked uncomfortable. But ferrari certainly did mess up his strategy quite badly. I am certain he will have been compliant with Leclerc but they seemed to box him at a stupid time looking just to get him out the way of leclerc. He messed up at the start but had the right to be annoyed with the team himself too.

    Not sure Stroll struggled. Hulkenberg was just very solid given his circumstances. Stroll was as is often the case poor in qualifying. But as usual, Stroll made a great start and more or less made up for that. Stroll had been following around 1.5 – 3 seconds behind Hulkenberg pretty much the entire race. Unless he had a significant pace advantage, it always will be hard to overtake the same car. Hulkenberg had clean air virtually the entire race and never overtook a single car. Despite Stroll being behind him, Stroll managed to look after his tyres far better which was basically what earned him the position ahead of Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg was very concerned about vibrations and had to box. before this they had pretty much mirrored the strategies and Stroll did the better job. I know Hulkenberg doesn’t have the experience, but looking at things strait if Stroll is judged as a struggler, then Hulkenberg did worse. I think Hulkenberg was very solod given his circumstances this weekend, but I disagree with Stroll beign a struggler. He got a realistic position adn I think the car was 3rd best – and Leclerc was outstanding as implied by the article. Stroll beign a struggler doesn’t add up to me. He finished where he should. Even the description doesn’t really conclude enough to warrant this IMO.

    The 2 struggglers that I think are obviously missing are Ricciardo and Magnussen.

    Ricciardo had a race as bad as Vettel. He spun just after a very low speed corner which likely ruined his strategy and he ended up pitting 3 times. It was a messy race and he sure did accept that. Can’t see how he isn’t included in the strugglers list.

    Magnussen had an outstanding start, but soon after that, continued to lack speed relative to Grosjean and then when he pitted, he was scrapping with a williams and could hardly stay ahead. Ended up with unnecessary contact that ruined his pace even more. He then pitted again early on and then in the end didn’t have enough suitable tyres left to finish the race. Another obvious driver that should be a struggler.

    The obvious stars:


    Solid drives by Kvyat, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Latifi (who looked quicker than Russell on race day for once)

    The obvious Strugglers:


    Gasly also was a bit disappointing. His strategy wasn’t helped, but Albon pitted at the same time as him and managed his tyres perfectly. Gasly did a shocking job at looking after his tyres in his 2nd stint. The rest of his race was decent, but Kvyat managed to come from a long way back and beat him in the end.

  4. I thought Bottas was disappointing in the race, but he was certainly not on an optimal strategy. he seems a bit submissive and verstappen got by too easily. his first stint was good but he seems to fade away in races. perhaps this is a harsh assessment but I think we can reasonably hold him to a very high standard given the machinery he has.

    how many drivers on the grid would be making a better fist of this season? we’ll never know, but I can think of a few who might (VER, LEC, RIC are the obvious ones, NOR, SAI would be feisty (let’s add ALO for the sake of argument…:); HUL had good pace and PER is as solid as BOT if not as quick).

  5. Seems about right this week, the tyres pretty much put paid to any real heroics other than Leclerc. Not really a great advertisement for the sport when the star drivers were those whose tyres didn’t fall apart ridiculously early in stints.

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