The first of two races at Silverstone brought late drama that nearly scuppered Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of winning a seventh British Grand Prix, with the current championship leader limping home to record his third victory of the 2020 season.
Apart from an opening weekend blip, Hamilton has been in imperious form this season and looks destined to claim a seventh world championship this year, with the Mercedes driver now 30 points clear at the top of the table with just four races completed.
Max Verstappen made the most of Valtteri Bottas’s late troubles to move take another second place finish - a second in a row - that also moves him cling onto the Finn in the drivers’ championship, but his Red Bull teammate Alex Albon endured yet another tricky weekend after a crash in Friday practice led to a disappointing qualifying session and a tough Sunday afternoon following contact with Kevin Magnussen.
Sunday also saw Daniil Kvyat’s promising early race pace ended dramatically in a high-speed off at Maggots, while Carlos Sainz saw what looked like a strong race result unravel as one of the three victims of late tyre delaminations that dropped him out of the points completely.
With the fourth race of the season down, here’s how The Independent’s driver power rankings have been affected.
20. Romain Grosjean (Haas) - down one
Credit to him, Grosjean tried to upset the apple cart by taking an early stop and going long in an effort to mix up the race order, and for a while it worked. But the haas is not a top-10 car and eventually the work tyres faded to leave him a sitting duck. However, rather than accept his fate, Grosjean crossed the line in trying to fight the likes of Sainz, Norris and Ricciardo too hard that resulted in a double-telling off by stewards, and he ultimately had to pit again that saw him finish second-last in 16th place.
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) - up one
Latifi quietly went about his business in an underrated fashion at Silverstone, converting an unimpressive qualifying display into a none too shabby 15th place. While Williams have set their sights on points this season, drives like this at least show that Latifi is progressing in the right direction, with the Canadian just three-tenths off the back of Antonio Giovinazzi come the chequered flag.
18. Kimi Raikkonen (Haas) - no move
2020 is proving a season to forget for Raikkonen. The Finn raged at his own team after they called him into the pits before telling him to stay out after already committing, and a front wing failure summed up his weekend to leave the former world champion in 17th and last position. With not a single point to his name, it already looks like a long year for Raikkonen.
17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) - down three
Giovinazzi has a rather anonymous Grand Prix, but ticked the boxes in out-qualifying and out-performing his teammate, which is always a bonus. However, finishing behind the Williams of Russell shows how far Alfa Romeo were off the pace.
16. George Russell (Williams) - up one
Another impressive qualifying display was spoiled by ignoring yellow flags, which earned the Briton a five-place grid penalty to drop him to the back of the grid. However, excellent race-pace saw him move up eight positions over the course of the race - taking into account the three retirements - and given the tyre chaos that unfolded in front of him, points were not out of the question until the moment he crossed the line.
15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) - down three
Magnussen got a strong start to move up in front of Alex Albon on the opening lap, but a slight error in clouting the kerb at the penultimate corner too hard cost him momentum that allowed Albon to pull alongside and led to the contact that ended his afternoon before he completed a lap. The contact was not his fault, but it was a disappointing weekend nonetheless.
14. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - down four
A third forgettable race weekend out of four should have Ferrari majorly concerned about their car this season, although what is the more alarming takeaway from the British Grand Prix is how Vettel cannot get the same out of the Ferrari as teammate Leclerc. Vettel qualified way off the pace in 10th, endured an even tougher race as the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly relegated him out of the top 10, and only bagged himself a point due to the troubles in front of him.
13. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) - no move
It was all going so well. Kvyat has made a good start, found a way past Giovinazzi and was right on the tail of his teammate when he suffered a scary accident that resulted in his AlphaTauri sending him arrowing for the barriers at the lightning-quick Maggots. Thankfully he was unhurt, and despite his initial thoughts putting the blame at his own feet, he can sleep easy knowing it was the car’s fault and not his own.
12. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) - down five
Perez proved to be the first driver affected by the coronaviru crisis as he tested positive for Covid-19 on the Thursday before the weekend got underway, ruling him out of both rounds at Silverstone in the process as he remains in isolation until the end of next weekend. His decision to head back to Mexico was an understandable-yet-risky one after his mother was involved in an accident, but an apparent holiday to Italy will not have gone down well with his team, who are already weighing up a move for Sebastian Vettel in place of Perez for next season.
11. Esteban Ocon (Renault) - up four
Ocon not only secured an impressive sixth-place finish but also had the performance to live up to it, having engaged in a race-long battle with Lance Stroll that he eventually prevailed in thanks to a successful move on the Racing Point.
10. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) - up six
A second seventh-place finish of the season capped a good weekend for Gasly, who looked to not only be the faster of the AlphaTauri drivers but also beat Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel for outright race pace. A very impressive weekend moved him up to 12th in the drivers’ championship.
9. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) - no move
It could have been a weekend to end a few frustrating races for Sainz as he looked on course for a strong fifth-place finish, which would have become fourth when Bottas suffered his late tyre failure, only to suffer the same fate himself. The puncture cost him dearly as he dropped to 13th, costing him any chance of points from a race that should have delivered a healthy haul.
8. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) - down three
How on earth the Racing Point performed so terribly at a track where their Mercedes power unit and similar design should have reaped rewards will leave the team scratching their heads. Stroll disappointed in qualifying, got tangled up with Sainz and Norris on the opening lap and struggled in the midfield battle that ultimately saw him labour home to ninth place. For a team that had podium expectations, that is simply not good enough.
7. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - down three
Albon found himself with a car struggling for grip on Friday that inevitably sent him into the barrier at Stowe and resulted in Red Bull playing catch up for the rest of the weekend, only for Albon to get a poor start and make contact with Magnussen on the opening lap that earned him a five-second penalty. However, he can take the positives out of a good recovery drive that salvaged four points for eighth position, but Red Bull will demand more.
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - up two
It was another strong display from Ricciardo who showed the benefits of taking your time and looking after the tyres to the very end. Ricciardo calmly stalked the two McLarens throughout the race, before capitalising on Sainz’s late issues and leapfrogging Norris on the final lap to give Renault bragging rights over McLaren for the second time this season.
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - up six
Leclerc bounced back nicely from two difficult grands prix to qualify fourth and finish third, delivering an unexpected podium finish for the struggling Ferrari team. Leclerc’s performance made it all the more impressive as he didn’t put a foot wrong all race, and after claiming a second rostrum finish of the season, he has surged away from Vettel in the drivers’ standings.
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) - up two
Norris was unable to capitalise on his strong qualifying showing as he was mugged of fifth place by teammate Sainz on the opening lap, but settled into a pace that looked like it was going to give McLaren a strong finish for both drivers until Sainz’s late puncture. That gave him a credible fifth place, though he will be desperately disappointed to have lost fourth to Ricciardo on the final lap.
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - no move
Bottas can’t really be blamed for his terrible result as he didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, having qualified in second and running within two seconds of Hamilton for most of the Grand Prix. However, the tyre failures hurt him the most as he failed to score any points to Hamilton’s 25, meaning a 30-point gap has opened up at the top of the standings that will require a fair share of luck to claw back.
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - no move
Verstappen is ringing the most out of the Red Bull this season and his results reflect that with a trio of podium finishes. Had reliability not struck in the opening race of the season, Verstappen would still be in the championship mix, but he is at least keeping the pressure up on Mercedes should they slip up at any point. A race victory could have materialised has Red Bull not pitted him to go for the fastest lap, but then who is to say his tyres would’ve lasted the extra two laps.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - no move
A lucky, lucky boy that his tyres lasted two laps more than Bottas’s, but then that also reflects his superiority to get more pace out of his Pirellis while taking less out of them. Hamilton is arguably driving at his very best in his quest for a seventh world championship, with the way he kept a cool head after disaster struck on the final lap a symbol of his maturity in recent years, and at Silverstone he took a giant stride towards making that a reality.