Max Verstappen told his Red Bull team over the radio he was “not going to drive like a grandma” and he did not, as he went on to win Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, breaking Mercedes’ stranglehold on the season.
- Max Verstappen claimed his ninth career Grand Prix victory and his first F1 race win at Silverstone
- Red Bull’s win in the race broke a streak of four straight Mercedes’ victories to start the season
- Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo suffered with tyre issues and a spin late in the race cost him any chance at points
The comment came from the Dutchman after he was asked to conserve his tyres early on, and the strategy paid off as he took the win by 11.3 seconds from Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who rounded out the podium positions.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finished 14th in his Renault after starting from fifth on the grid.
Verstappen took advantage of starting the race on a harder compound tyre, which enabled him to stay out longer than both pole-sitter Bottas and Hamilton and claim the first non-Mercedes win of the season.
Consequently, when he finally pitted on lap 26 Verstappen came out just behind Bottas, but on fresher and softer tyres the Red Bull had more pace than the Mercedes and Bottas gave Verstappen an easy pass on his out lap.
It wasn’t the last time Bottas would be passed either, and with three laps remaining and a badly blistered left rear tyre, Hamilton took advantage of his teammate’s predicament and passed him to move into second.
Ultimately he had no chance of catching the flying Dutchman, who went on to claim his ninth Grand Prix victory and his first at the famed English circuit.
The win was the first for Red Bull since November of 2019 when Verstappen won the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the first for the team at the circuit since 2012, when Australia’s Mark Webber won.
It left Verstappen smiling, as the 22-year-old moved into second in the Driver’s Championship, behind Hamilton, who before today had won six of the last eight Grands Prix at the circuit.
“We had a great day. Everything worked out well we had the right strategy, I was quite happy to win,” Verstappen said.
Hamilton questions Pirelli’s balloon-like tyres
Both Hamilton and Bottas were left to lament what might have been had their tyres held together — with Hamilton, who’s tyres shredded last week as he grimly held on for a race win — again taking aim at tyre manufacturer Pirelli.
“Congratulations to Red Bull,” Hamilton said.
“You look at their tyres and they did not have the problems we had today, it is difficult to have the blistering as hard as we experienced it.
“We have not had that before, most likely it was that Pirelli were struggling with tyre failures last week, so then [another] weekend on they just put the pressures up and up and up.
“They are like balloons now, they are the highest pressure we have had at a track like this.
Bottas labelled the day a frustrating one and questioned his team’s strategy after the race, while talking to Britain’s Sky Sports.
“As a team we were sleeping at some point when Max managed to get ahead of us, so our strategy was far from ideal,” he said.
Ricciardo endures tough day
While the day promised much for Australia’s Ricciardo, who finished fourth at the same track in last weekend’s British Grand Prix, he could not replicate the performance as he endured a horror day.
It began when he was passed by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on the opening lap of the race, dropping to sixth position as he took a wide line after trying to pass the other Racing Point of Nico Hulkenberg, his former Renault teammate.
It would only get worse from there, with Ricciardo pitting multiple times due to tyre issues and the worst of it came on lap 32 while racing Carlos Sainz.
Sainz, in his McLaren was around the outside of Ricciardo, who spun his Renault, costing him more positions as he finally dropped to finish 14th and out of the points.
Ricciardo said strategy errors cost him but he doubted that the car was set up as well as last weekend.
“It was a race which kept getting away from us,” Ricciardo said.
“In hindsight we could have gone longer and kept the hard [compound tyre] on but we went for the medium and that just got destroyed.
“Then I had a battle tried to defend from Carlos [Sainz], spun and killed those tyres and our race was done.”