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  • Writer's pictureRhonan Colquhoun

F1: Hamilton wins British GP despite last-lap puncture

Lewis Hamilton wins a record seventh British GP despite a front-left puncture halfway round the last lap which left the Brit limping to the finish line ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

2nd August 2020

Despite an uncharacteristic spin in the second part of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton regained his focus to take a record seventh Pole Position at the track by three tenths ahead of his main championship rival - Mercedes's team-mate Valterri Bottas.

Having being pressured when the lights went out at the start of the race by Bottas, Hamilton kept the lead throughout the race, getting himself out of the DRS range and managing to stay ahead of the chasing pack on both of the Safety Car restarts.

With victory today, Hamilton now holds the record for the most wins by a driver at their home grand prix. He was tied coming into the weekend with Alain Prost who had won the French GP six times previously.

For most of the race, it was very subdued, particularly in the second half. The first of two Safety Car's appeared just after the first lap when Haas's Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull's Alexander Albon came to blows.

Exiting Turn 17, Magnussen took too much kerb which unsettled the car and that allowed Albon to have a look into the final corner. The Haas driver appeared not to have seen the Red Bull driver into the tight right corner and contact was made with Albon on the inside clipping Magnussen into a spin. Magnussen spun on the gravel before making contact with the barrier and coming to a halt with the Danish driver getting out of the car after such a heavy impact. With this, Albon was later handed a five second time penalty for the incident.

The second Safety Car appeared only a few laps later for the Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat. The Russian was running just outside of the points after starting from second-from-last after a grid penalty when he crashed heavily on the entry to Turn 11.

What seems to be caused by a right-rear puncture, Kvyat was sent spinning wildly into the barriers with the impact ripping off his left-rear tyre. Fortunately, he climbed out of the car and was furious with himself for the incident as he angrily pushed the camera away from him.

There were two tyre strategies playing out in what was a simple and boring one-stop race. The first Safety Car was too early for the drivers such as the McLaren's of Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris, the Renault's of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who started on the Soft tyre, to make their first pit-stops.

However, when the Safety Car was redeployed for the wrecked Alpha Tauri, the drivers pitted with all of them going onto the Hard tyre. This included the drivers who started on the Medium tyre which were the likes of Hamilton, Bottas, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

The only driver who did not stop under this Safety Car was the sole remaining Haas of Romain Grosjean who opted to stay out on his Medium tyres which promoted him up to fifth.

On the restart, Hamilton comfortably led ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc and Grosjean. It wasn't long until the Haas driver was being pressured by the drivers behind him and first in line to try and overtake him was Sainz.

The McLaren driver got close on the run to Turn 15 but in the braking zone, Grosjean moved, which isn't allowed. On the next lap, Sainz got past and Grosjean received a black and white flag.

As they had done at the first Safety Car restart, Hamilton and Bottas pulled away with the Mercedes duo trading fastest lap times and running about a second a lap quicker than Verstappen behind. The Red Bull driver was a comfortable third ahead of Leclerc's Ferrari.

Norris is next to pass Grosjean with ease but Ricciardo behind doesn't have it as easy. Another defensive move from Grosjean left Ricciardo deeming the move "sketchy" but for another 14 laps, Grosjean kept the Australian at bay. The Stewards noted the defensive driving once again as Racing Point's Lance Stroll made his move on Grosjean. The Haas driver finally pitted for the Hard tyre after that move by the Canadian.

The sole remaining Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly set his sights on the struggling Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Gasly moved past the Ferrari round the outside of Stowe despite leaving the track to complete the overtake to move into tenth.

With ten laps to go, Hamilton still led Bottas however, both drivers were now seeing signs of blistering on their tyres, especially on the left-front tyre. Verstappen kept within striking distance albeit ten seconds behind Bottas.

Tyre supplier Pirelli said at the beginning of the week, as they do at the start of every race week, the number of laps a set of tyres can do. For this weekend, the compound of Hard tyres can go as far as 40 laps.

Onto lap 50, just two laps shy of the finish, it looked like both Hamilton and Bottas had done enough tyre preservation to make it to the end. Both of their tyres were now over the recommended 40 laps.

The cameras pick-up the sight of Bottas running wide at Turn 3 with a puncture on, you guessed it, his front-left tyre. The Finn is overtaken by Verstappen and has nearly a full-lap to complete to make it back to the pits. His hopes for a podium finish in tatters and his championship challenge dealt a devastating blow.

Red Bull react immediately and bring Verstappen in from second. He goes onto the Soft tyres in a bid for the bonus point for the fastest lap. It wasn't apparent that the Dutchman was struggling as much as the Mercedes duo.

With Bottas managing to make it back to the pits, he tumbles down the order and out of the points, Mercedes tell Hamilton not to go for the fastest lap and to try and manage his tyres for just one more lap.

It's not just the Mercedes duo who are worried about their tyres, now the McLaren of Sainz slows with a puncture as well. The Spaniard was running fourth after Bottas made his pit-stop. Sainz trundles back to the pits and falls out of the points.

Incredibly, with just half of the final lap to go, approaching what was the first corner on the old Silverstone layout, Hamilton's front-left tyre gives up.

When Verstappen pitted for a second time, he rejoined in second as he had built up enough of a gap to pit and rejoin ahead of Leclerc but was over 30 seconds behind Hamilton. Could Verstappen catch Hamilton and win?

With Hamilton trundling to make it to the finish line, the gap between himself and Verstappen tumbled. Hamilton made it to Stowe corner with the gap slashed to just 16 seconds, he had three corners to go but would he make it?

Hamilton managed to slow and get the car through the chicane at Turn 16 and 17 and now it was just the final corner. But where was Verstappen?

As Hamilton rounded the final corner, Verstappen exited Stowe corner and still had the chicane to navigate but the finish line came before Verstappen had the chance to overtake. Hamilton crossed the line to win in dramatic fashion with Verstappen crossing the line just under six seconds behind.

Leclerc rounded-out the podium, taking his and Ferrari's second podium this year with Ricciardo putting a late move on Norris to take fourth. Ocon took sixth ahead of Gasly while a second pit-stop and a tremendous fightback saw Albon take eighth.

Stroll took ninth in a very disappointing race for Racing Point while Vettel managed to fend-off Bottas to take the last points-paying position in tenth.

Post-Race Debrief

With his F1 career dating back to 2007, Hamilton explained before the podium celebrations that the end of the race for him was something new.

“Oh my god, I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap and my heart nearly stopped. That’s how cool it was because my heart nearly stopped."

The win now cements Hamilton's lead in the championship to 30 points over Bottas with the Brit gaining 25 points from today's race with Bottas out of the points.

Verstappen's 18 points for second and the bonus point for the Fastest Lap means that the Red Bull driver is now just six points behind Bottas. But was it a mistake for Red Bull to pit their driver? The team stand by their decision and believe it wasn't a guarantee that he would finish the race.

"The tyres didn't look great with 10 laps to go, they didn't look pretty. It was pretty lonely; I was just managing my pace and looking after the tyres."

In contention for Driver of the Day has to be Leclerc who finished in third for Ferrari having qualified fourth. It's the Scuderia's second podium in four races.

"It was a very tricky race. Looking at us we have done the best we could have done today. I am very happy with how I managed the tyres from beginning to the end and I am happy with the balance of the car."

With Ricciardo in fourth and Ocon in sixth, Renault take 20 points in what is their best race since Italy last year. With their rivals, Racing Point and McLaren, suffering from a lack of pace and tyre issues, Renault have taken a good points haul in the battle for third in the championship.

Sticking with Racing Point, standing in for Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg didn't even get to the starting grid after a technical issue prevented the German from starting the race.

What an incredible finish to the race and the best thing about it is that Formula One returns to Silverstone next week for a second time for the 70th Anniversary of the sport.

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