HAMILTON LIMPS HOME FOR 7TH BRITISH GP WIN
With only 3 wheels on his wagon, Lewis Hamilton managed to limp home to another British Grand Prix victory in the first of 2 races scheduled at Silverstone for the 2020 season.
Taking his tally of British Grand Prix wins to seven, Hamilton had looked imperious throughout the race until the final lap when his left front tyre failed leaving him with half a lap to complete and Max Verstappen bearing down on him on fresh rubber.
In fact, it could have been a different result if it had not been for Verstappen taking a late precautionary pit stop in the wake of two earlier left front tyre failures for the other Silver Arrow driven by Valtteri Bottas, and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen was in a safe second place although over 30 seconds behind leader Hamilton, so it made sense to pit and also take the chance of grabbing fastest lap on a fresh set of soft tyres. In hindsight it was the wrong decision as had he stayed out; he would have undoubted stolen the victory when Hamilton suffered the puncture.
A series of unplanned pitstops under the safety car had left Mercedes nursing their tyres for most of the afternoon and with just 2 laps to go it looked like it was going to pay off and be an uneventful race for the Brackley based team and a fairly comfortable 1-2 lock out.
However, on lap 50 and having only just passed the pits, Bottas’ tyre let go. With a whole lap to negotiate on 3 wheels he found himself plummeting down the field. When he had finally hobbled into the pits and had his tyres replaced, he returned to the track in 11th place.
As the final lap played out Hamilton and Sainz also had front left tyre failures. Sainz track position meant he suffered the same fate as Bottas dropping to 13th place, but Hamilton’s tyre failed midway through the final lap and with his 30 odd second gap to Verstappen was able to limp across the line as Verstappen rounded the final corner.
After the race Hamilton said, “Until the last lap, everything was relatively smooth sailing. The tyres felt great. Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard and I was doing some management of that tyre and he looked like he wasn’t doing any. When (his) tyre went, everything seemed fine, so I was thinking maybe it was OK. And then just down the straight it deflated.
While Hamilton was wrestling the car home his engineer Peter Bonnington was counting down the gap to Verstappen over the radio as he neared the flag.
In the melee of tyre failures Renault were fortunate with Daniel Riccardo a clear benefactor in the midfield getting the better of Lando Norris, and Estaban Ocon crossing the line in 6th place. Gasly was steady in 7th which including an audacious pass on Vettel around the outside of Stowe corner.
As we head into the 2nd race at Silverstone this weekend, it’s unlikely we will see the same tyre issues as its expected that Pirelli will introduce a different option for the race. Let’s hope it’s as equally exciting as the end of this British Grand Prix.
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