Sun, 27 Sep 2020

Red Bull Racing's Formula One driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands on his way to victory during the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as the softer tyres and hot temperatures at Silverstone led to Red Bull defeating Mercedes in Formula 1's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

By F1 correspondent Michael Butterworth

BEIJING, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Max Verstappen brilliantly took his first win of the 2020 Formula 1 season at Sunday's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, as his Red Bull team out thought Mercedes on tyre strategy in an intriguing tactical battle.

The race was the second in as many weeks at the Silverstone Circuit, and it initially appeared as if the Mercedes duo of polesitter Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton would easily disappear into the distance from their front-row grid positions.

But in unusually hot conditions, Bottas and Hamilton quickly began to complain of blistering tyres. With Mercedes perhaps mindful that both their drivers had suffered punctures towards the end of last week's British Grand Prix, Bottas and Hamilton had made their first tyre stops by lap 14.

This allowed into the lead Verstappen, who was the only driver in the top 10 to start on hard compound tyres, and the Dutchman seemed perfectly at ease with his rubber, even extending his advantage over the Mercedes following their pit stops.

With the Red Bull seemingly much kinder on its tyres, Verstappen did not make his first pit stop until lap 27, and though he emerged just behind Bottas, he swiftly overtook the Finn to regain the lead.

Though all three drivers made a further pit stop, Hamilton ran much longer into the race before doing so, and his fresher rubber towards the end of the race allowed him to pass Bottas for second place, though the Briton had no answer to Verstappen's pace.

"We had a lot of pace in the car," said a delighted Verstappen afterwards. "We kept pushing. We had a great day, we had the right strategy. I tried to put the pressure on [Mercedes] and they had to pit."

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands reacts during the awarding ceremony after the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)

Meanwhile, Hamilton was magnanimous in defeat as he rued his team's tyre struggles. "Congratulations to Red Bull and to Max. They didn't have the blistering problems we had today. It's unexpected but I'm sure the team will work out what the issues have been. At the end I was driving with half a tyre."

Behind the front three, an equally impressive performance from Charles Leclerc saw the Monegasque take fourth place on a one-stop strategy, with Verstappen's teammate Alex Albon finishing fifth after a late charge on fresh rubber.

The two Racing Points took sixth and seventh, with Lance Stroll ahead of stand-in teammate Nico Hulkenberg in what is likely to be his final race for the squad.

Renault's Esteban Ocon also stopped just once and finished eighth, just ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris and the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat.

Further down, Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel had another difficult day, dropping to the back after spinning on lap 1 and then arguing with his crew over strategy on his way to a disappointing 12th place.

Despite failing to win, Hamilton still leads the drivers' championship with 107 points, with Verstappen moving up to second on 77, and Bottas dropping to third on 73.

In the constructors' standings, Mercedes lead with 180 points, ahead of Red Bull on 113, and Ferrari moving up to third on 55 points.

The sixth round of the 2020 Formula 1 season takes place next weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. ■

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