Max Verstappen jumped on what could be the Formula One season surprise by beating Lewis Hamilton to win the Grand Prix on Sunday’s 70th Anniversary.
The Red Bull driver crossed the line 11.3 seconds away from Hamilton at Silverstone, with Valtteri Bottas sixth.
“I didn’t see it coming, but it looked like we were pretty good on tires after the first stop,” Verstappen said after his ninth career win from Northampton, England. “We had a lot of speed in the car. I had no tire issues, so we kept on going.”
It was the ninth win of the young Dutchman’s Formula One career and the success of the Red Bull team, whose car was better suited to the booming conditions of a legendary track with tire damage.
Hamilton surpassed Bottas late in the 52-lap race to take the second position, finishing 155th on the podium, close to Michael Schumacher’s record.
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Mercedes was set to challenge for its fifth victory in as many rounds this season. But both Hamilton and Bottas were struggling with their tires to clear the way for Verstappen to win.
“It was a huge obstacle,” said Hamilton. “Thank you to the Red Bull team and Max. They didn’t have the issues we had today. ”
Behind the lead, the trio was yet another stormy drive from Charles Leclerc, who was fourth for Ferrari after only one pit stop, and Alex Albon was fifth in the second Red Bull.
Lance Stroll was sixth in the Racing Stage, with Nico Hulkenberg down to seventh following his teammate after quite a late pit stop due to turbulence in his engine.
Hamilton will go to next week’s Spanish Grand Prix with a 30-point title advantage over Verstappen in the second position. Hamilton has 107 points, Verstappen 77 points and Bottas 73 points.
The Mercedes crew of Hamilton was the class action of the field this year. After the pole-sitter, Bottas beat Hamilton to the first corner, it seemed as if it was a straight battle between all-black cars to win.
Yet Verstappen, who jumped ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Racing Point in the first turn, stayed hot on their heels. Both Mercedes cars started on medium tires, with Verstappen on a harder, more robust rubber.
Verstappen noticed that the Mercedes cars were lacking and were soon chasing down Hamilton. At one point, he was ordered to drop the Hamilton gearbox to secure his tires.
“It is the only chance to defeat Mercedes,” he said on the radio. “I’m not going to lie back like a grandmother.“
And he was still violent. Bottas took the lead in lap 13, led by Hamilton for fresh tires in the next lap. Verstappen took the lead, and when he came in for new tires in the middle of the race, he left the pits trailing Bottas.
Only Verstappen and Bottas came in with 20 laps left for the second time, while Hamilton stayed out on the tires until Lap 41 of 52.
Hamilton finished fourth. But the 35-year-old showed a steady pace on the fresh tires. He finished third in the fastest lap of the race before overtaking Leclerc at Stowe. He then set his sights on tracking down Bottas. With two laps to run passed his teammate around the outskirts of Brooklands.
Hamilton quickly made it to the ground to pass Leclerc and then Bottas, with three laps to go to the second position, just over 11 seconds behind the leader.