Boy, what an incredible weekend it has been, all thanks to the 70th anniversary Grand Prix. There are big occasions and then, those that exude a special moment in time.
Come to think of it- seven decades of non-stop, unendingly exciting, and utterly dominant Formula 1 racing. The sport has come a long way from wielding the L8s and L4s back in the 1950s to the indomitable V8s and now, the turbocharged V6s.
Formula 1 has, over a 70-year period, hence seven decades has unfurled no fewer than 1,023 races and gone on to produce 33 different world champions.
A constant companion along with such whirlwind achievements have been constantly-changing team compositions, newly-instituted rules, increased scoring opportunities, and more competitive circuit layouts all of which have made the fastest form of motor-racing the most prestigious motor-racing event in the world.
Against this narrative, where it’s not hard to suppress or turn a blind eye to the meteoric rise of Formula 1, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was expected to be a cracker of a contest, the race being held at the very venue where it all began back in 1950, a contest that fielded no fewer than three world champions on the starting grid in Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen.
As expected, the second-round of Silverstone returned several moments that rose to be the cynosure of all eyes. Let’s visit the key talking points from the 70th anniversary Grand Prix.
1. Verstappen’s Bull-Run Jolts ‘Hammertime’
The last that anyone managed to curtail the menacing Mercedes charge on the field prior to the just-concluded race was back at Interlagos, at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.
But even on that occasion, the only team that emerged ahead of the two Mercedes cars was the very name that halted their surge at Silverstone: Red Bull.
Max Verstappen, the winner on both occasions, including Interlagos in 2019 and Silverstone in 2020, seems to be the only driver who has an answer to tame the nearly untamable Woking-based outfit.
So one of the important talking points from the 70th anniversary Grand Prix was the dominant fashion in which Max levelled the fight to the two Black Arrows, an outcome achieved by combining excellent tyre management and the bold strategic call that allowed the Dutch driver to continue on a longer first stint, which eventually allowed him to open a big gap to the Mercedes cars.
On a day where the tyres didn’t quite aid the two Black Arrows, Verstappen aced the 52-lap contest with quintessential grit, never relenting from the attack he’d enforced on the two dominant cars on the grid, moments after he passed Hulkenberg inside the opening lap.
From thereon in, much of the race was about if Hamilton and Bottas could catch up Max, instead of the narrative usually flowing the other way around.
Max’s win, in the end, was his first-ever in Silverstone, and his ninth overall; an effort that allowed him to overtake Valtteri on the 2020 Driver’s standings, where he currently finds himself 30-points adrift of table-topper Lewis Hamilton.
2. No podium but a strong drive, nonetheless, for Nico Hulkenberg
The biggest talking point in town at the conclusion of the qualifying session on Saturday wasn’t the two Mercedes who, by usual standards, had locked out the front row; rather, it was the man who conquered attention by placing his RP 20 on third on the grid.
Nico Hulkenberg, the surprise package of 2020, was the rider of hearts and the one bloke everyone was hoping to get a podium on Sunday, something which has eluded him all this while in Formula 1.
And honestly, at Silverstone, it was his best-possible chance to bag one, due to the fact that he was beginning his challenge from third on the grid.
But to his dismay, the German found himself outwitted by eventual race-winner Max Verstappen, who’d pass him even before the contingent arrived at Turn two.
Another glimpse at the dominant race-pace of the RB 16.
Though, in the end, that Hulkenberg managed seventh, by virtue of which he picked six strong points allowed him to finish strongly. While it may seem a lowly finish given the powerful machine he was contesting in, the moment you recollect that the last he raced in an F1 car was some 252 days back, you understand the vitality of his result.
Moreover, his strong performance meant that together with Stroll, Racing Point collected 14 strong points, among the key talking points from the 70th anniversary GP.
3. Leclerc Makes It Count Despite Fighting In Underwhelming Machinery
Maybe no single word would suitably describe the SF1000 currently fielded by the Scuderia family and instead of a single adjective, a glossary of uninspiring terms would befit the description. Isn’t it?
Yet, that Charles Leclerc, who started from eighth on the grid, ended up being fourth tells a thing or two about the fact that not everyone down in Maranello has decided to quit and drop the weapon.
The young Monegasque driver, who drove a decently-controlled race punctuated by important feats like passing the visibly superior McLaren MCL 35 of Lando Norris (post his first stop) enabled Ferrari to muster up a fight, something fans so desperately seek in a season where nothing’s quite gone their way.
In the end, Leclerc, who always seemed more comfortable toiling with the recalcitrant machinery than his teammate, who finished outside the points once again, was able to gather 12 strong points.
Was this a possibility when he began his 52-lap challenge? You could make sense of it by the massive sigh of relief Leclerc expressed over team radio upon the completion of the race.
So Ferrari’s surprise and even feisty finish ably managed by Charles was quite clearly among the key talking points from the 70th anniversary GP.
4. Kimi, despite a lowly fifteenth, overtakes Michael Schumacher and sets an incredible record
The Iceman may not have gotten off to a flier this season and might be functioning effectively as the backmarker of the grid, but despite the serious string of lows hurting his plans, Kimi Raikkonen embraced a fine achievement whilst in midst of the 70th anniversary Grand Prix.
So what is it then?
Around midway stage, Kimi Raikkonen reached the surreal record of having raced in most laps ever in the sport, an achievement which saw him overtake the great Michael Schumacher (16,825 laps).
While Raikkonen started from the very back of the grid- in twentieth- the fifteenth, in the end, was achieved largely due to inheriting several grid positions because of others pitting.
Not really the Finn’s way of contesting in a Grand Prix. Yet, the very fact that Kimi has raced in no fewer than 16,845 laps in the sport is an achievement second to none and worthy of applause.
While his ice may be melting owing to an utterly ulterior car aligned to him this season, there’s no suppressing the Kimi phenomenon!
5. The one key reminder to all nine teams confronting Mercedes
Max won and in the end, the two Mercedes had to settle for the second and third step on the podium. Probably none saw this coming, maybe not even the race-winner! But, never say never in Formula 1- right?
The end result wasn’t a frequent sight and not one to behold if you were a Black Arrows fan.
But the endlessly interesting close fight between the troika at the front of the grid did ultimately unfurl a key lesson that the remainder of the teams would love to embrace.
After all, we learned that Mercedes are beatable and not utterly invincible.
While to their disadvantage, the car didn’t quite support the tires instead of the other way around, Max’s brilliant win paved the way for the realization that if one grabs a dominant place on the grid and backs it up with an affirmative team strategy, Mercedes can be held back.
But the point to note is whether anyone on the grid can repeat this stellar effort as the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix strikes in a week’s time?