MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Formula 1 2020 | 5 Things We Learnt From The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
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Verstappen back in groove
After four-straight Formula 1 wins to begin the 2020 Formula 1 season, Red Bull brought to an end Mercedes’ four-straight wins as Max Verstappen claimed victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday.
With the Dutchman notching his ninth F1 victory, his 11-second finishing margin over Lewis Hamilton saw Verstappen grab his first win at Silverstone, after runner-up spots at the British and Styrian GPs.
Having finished on the podium in all four races he has finished so far this term, the 22-year-old is mirroring the same levels of consistency as last season, where he finished no lower than fourth until the Canadian GP in Round seven.
Taking his very first F1 race win at the same stage four years ago in Barcelona, a previously raw Verstappen has been chiseled into a more mature driver and with a return to Catalonia next weekend, can the youngest GP winner in history record successive wins for the first time?
Honda fire Red Bull again
His chances of doing so seem to be more than realistic. As Silverstone sweltered for the second weekend on the bounce, the consistent Northamptonshire furnace held strong from Friday through to Sunday, allowing the Red Bull Honda engine to strut its’ stuff.
Aside from Verstappen’s win, Alex Albon put a combination of frustration and poor car performance to one side in the British GP to complete a top-five double for his team – storming through the field after qualifying ninth.
For all Team Boss Christian Horner‘s grumblings that Red Bull are simply unable to compete with Mercedes’ greater power, this weekend’s perfect storm of ferocious track temperature and their rivals on-going reliability issues, saw the Honda engine race to dominance.
The Red Bull have in the past flourished under the hottest conditions in recent times and this weekend was no exception.
Mercedes remain the top dog in F1 by some distance, but the weaknesses are there to exploit. Horner and co. will be hoping for a hot streak of weather for the remainder of the summer.
DAS tyre issues?
On the subject of chinks in the armour, Mercedes are encountering an unlikely foe in the form of tyre reliability, but could it be indirectly down to this term’s newly-introduced DAS system?
The Dual Assisted Steering innovation introduced this season has undoubtedly improved the German manufacturer’s speed out of the corner – as it was designed to aid – however with the extra pressure exerted exiting the corners, the left-front tyres have began to show increased wear and tear.
Tyre issues were not an obstacle that Mercedes were expected to encounter this season but after successive races of compatibility problems, Hamilton continued to note on the team radio the Pirellis may have been causing the car an imbalance.
Whether DAS is indeed to blame or not remains unanswered, but with a third race of hot conditions in a row next weekend, might Mercedes be forced to look at their upgraded car?
Ferrari off pace
As Mercedes and Red Bull attempt to romp away into the distance, Ferrari’s woes in 2020 show no sign of abating.
Now win-less in 11 races, Scuderia have not taken top spot on the podium since Singapore last September, but of greater concern will be just two top-three finishes so far this campaign.
Charles Leclerc may have had a creditable fourth spot after starting eighth on the grid, but for Sebastian Vettel, the German was more embroiled in a battle for tenth rather than top.
Finishing in that same position and then 12th this time around on F1’s British jaunt, Vettel appears to be on something of a hiding to nothing – underlined by a late spin at on Sunday – but Ferrari also now look worryingly off the pace, with few answers yet as to their current malaise.
Racing Point row rolls on
As the pretenders to the Ferrari throne, Racing Point continue to impress after five Rounds. However, a large cloud continues hang over the the Silverstone-based team.
After a 15-point penalty and £361,000 was handed down to the British manufacturer at the weekend, RP’s reputation for the mean time remains somewhat in the dirt having been adjudged to have ‘copied’ Mercedes 2019 brake ducts.
With Lance Stroll and sub Nico Hulkenberg completing another top-ten double on Sunday – this time on home tarmac – the rise of Racing Point this season have led on-lookers to label the car as the ‘Pink Mercedes’.
Owner Lawrence Stroll – father of driver Lance – has been angered at their moniker and regarding suggestions of cheating also however, told BBC Sport intends to clear both his and Racing Point’s name:
“The rules, as they are written, state that after 2019, no further information on brake duct design can be shared or acquired.
At that point, what you know and have learned, is your own information. From that point onwards, you are on your own. Which is exactly what we have done. I intend to take all necessary actions to prove our innocence.
My team has worked tirelessly to deliver the competitive car we have on the grid. I am truly upset to see the poor sportsmanship of our competitors.”
Intriguingly, four separate teams in the paddock have lodged their intentions to protest the decisions, but as Sergio Perez makes his likely return to the paddock after coronavirus in a matter of days, Racing Point could be making headlines in Spain for differing reasons.
Round six of the 2020 Formula 1 season takes place in Barcelona next weekend, for the Spanish Grand Prix
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