We all thought that this year’s British Grand Prix was going to fail to impress, but boy did it come through at the end! There were Safety Cars, huge crashes, penalties, and warnings, and last lap punctures! All of this made the British Grand Prix a race to remember. And here at F1ntastic, we’re going to review it.
2020 British Grand Prix Facts And Stats – Hamilton Star of the Stats Again
The Facts and Stats previously featured in a completely separate post, but they are now part of the Race Reviews. Hamilton continues to shine as he breaks another set of records in just one race. Before we start reviewing the events of the race, let’s take a look at the Facts and Stats from the British GP.
- Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious once again at the British GP. The Briton now holds the record for most home wins by a driver, with a staggering 7. The previous record-holder was Alain Prost, with 6 French Grand Prix wins.
- Hamilton broke another F1 legend’s record after he led the race from start to finish. Ayrton Senna held the record with 19, and Hamilton beat it.
- Michael Schumacher holds the record for the most career wins with 91. The Mercedes man is only 4 wins shy of that record, with 87 race wins to his name.
- Hamilton is 1 podium away from breaking Schumacher’s record of 155 career podiums.
- Great Britain was the 4th race of the 2020 season. Hamilton has won 3 of these first 4 races, and whenever he has done that, he has stormed to the championship win. This happened in 2014 & 2015.
- Max Verstappen broke Red Bull’s streak of British bad luck after finishing on the podium in 2nd place at Silverstone. The last time Red Bull got a Silverstone podium was in 2016.
- Hamilton and Verstappen had a 1-2 finish for the second race in a row.
- Daniel Ricciardo finished in an amazing 4th place for Renault, behind Charles Leclerc. This is his best-ever finish with Renault, equalling the result he got in the 2019 Italian Grand Prix. 4th place is Renault’s best result since 2016. That’s when the team came back to Formula 1.
- Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon finished 2 places behind in 6th, bringing Renault 8 points, while Ricciardo got 12 points, putting Renault’s British total to 20 points.
- Renault won at Silverstone in 2006. Since then, this year’s British GP race is their best British finish.
- Esteban Ocon has finished 8th in 2017, 7th in 2018, and 6th in 2020 at Silverstone.
- Sebastian Vettel now has a new unlucky number. Until 2020, the German had never finished a Grand Prix in 10th place. This year with Ferrari, Vettel has finished 10th twice, in just 4 races.
- However, Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc isn’t doing so bad. He took Ferrari’s 2nd podium of the year by finishing 3rd in Silverstone for the 2nd year in a row.
- McLaren’s Lando Norris has been incredibly successful so far this year, finishing in the Top 5 in 3 of 4 races. The first race of the year saw him get his maiden podium, in 3rd place!
- Alex Albon brought his Red Bull to the points, and Lance Stroll brought his Racing Point to the points as well, with both the drivers scoring British points for the very first time.
Pirelli’s Tire Failures At The British Grand Prix
Now, we will move on to reviewing the events of the race, and less of the results of the race. *4 cars faced major problems in this Grand Prix because of their tires. Pirelli had to lead an investigation into why the hard tires punctured so easily. While some can say the failures happened because everybody pit earlier, Pirelli did say the hards could last 40 laps. **On top of that, AlphaTauri’s Kvyat retired on the mediums, in the early laps of the race. Before we get into why the tire incidents happened, let’s check out all of the tire incidents.
*Kimi Raikkonen faced a puncture as well, but that was because of front wing damage that he had, and was not a tire failure on its own.
**An important thing to note is that Kvyat’s puncture is not related to the punctures at the end of the race, as you will see later.
Kvyat’s HUGE Crash
Kyvat faced a massive crash on Lap 13, bringing out the Safety Car for the second time in the British GP. The Russian was entering the high-speed Maggots and Becketts section when he suddenly spun around. He then smashed into the barrier at a very high speed. Many, including Kvyat himself, though it was a driver error. Kvyat apologised on the radio and then told the press that the adjustments he needed to make on his steering wheel distracted him.
Kvyat said “I still don’t understand what happened, I was changing a lot of switches on the steering wheel and got distracted. The red kerb just spun the car around completely, I didn’t expect that. But I wasn’t looking really on the track at that moment, we were having some issues on the car and I had to change a lot of parameters on the screen and it was very, very distracting.”
However, onboard footage revealed the real reason for the crash. The right-rear tire of Kvyat’s car suddenly punctured at the apex of Maggots corner. That caused the car to suddenly change direction and spin. The image above shows the damages and the puncture at the apex of Maggots. The driver himself was not happy about the incident at all. He pushed a cameraman away in anger while walking away from his car.
“About Kvyat’s tyres it is obviously a completely different situation, probably a slow puncture. But again we want to investigate deeply,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of Formula 1 and Car Racing.
“The tyre is going to Milan because it was not possible to understand exactly what happened on that tyre. It’s probably something that is not related to the tyre or is a slow puncture. The most probable conclusion is this one but we want to be 100% sure, that’s why the tyre is going to Milan to perform additional analysis.”
Around 5 days after the British Grand Prix, Pirelli came up with the conclusion after thorough analysis. Everyone thought that the cause for the crash was a puncture. But it was actually Kvyat’s AlphaTauri’s wheel rim overheating that caused the issues with the tyre. To know about the analysis results in detail, read the statement below.
Pirelli’s Statement For Kvyat
“Together with Scuderia AlphaTauri, Pirelli has concluded an investigation into the precise cause of the incident that resulted in Daniil Kvyat hitting the wall during the British Grand Prix on lap 12,” a statement said.
“A separate mechanical issue led to the inside of the right-rear wheel rim overheating, which in turn burned the bead of the tyre (the part of the tyre that connects the rubber to the wheel). As a result, the bead was no longer able to seal the tyre onto the rim. This is what caused the subsequent deflation, with the tyre itself playing no part in the cause of the accident.”
Some changes have been made to the kerbing and the barriers at the Silverstone track. There were concerns that debris got trapped in the kerb, leading to the punctures that took place in the last lap. A new tire barrier is in the place where Kvyat hit the wall, making it safer, in case of a crash.
Kvyat’s teammate Pierre Gasly had a much better race, finishing in P7, ahead of Alex Albon, bringing home 6 points in the bag. Gasly’s championship total is now 12 points, which puts him in 12th in the Driver Standings. An important thing to note is that Esteban Ocon has 12 points as well, but is 11th in the standings. AlphaTauri is in 7th in the Constructors’ standings with 13 points, as Kvyat has only scored 1 point so far, finishing in 10th in the Styrian Grand Prix.
The Early Pitstops
Remember how I said that the Safety Car came out after Kvyat’s crash? Well, that played a major role in the events of the last 2 laps of the race. This is because everyone pitted on Lap 12 and Lap 13 when the Safety Car was out. When there is a Safety Car, you lose 10 seconds in the pit stops. When you are under green flag conditions, and everyone is racing at full pace, you lose around 20 seconds in the pit stops. This is exactly why all the drivers came in for their pit stops, except for the Haas of Romain Grosjean. The British Grand Prix is a 52-lap race, meaning that drivers were on the hard tires for around 40 laps.
Pirelli has told teams that the hard tires provided for the British Grand Prix would last 40 laps. But for 3 drivers they didn’t. This could be because those drivers were pushing hard, and not preserving their tires too much, but there was another reason that popped up on Lap 48, 2 laps before the first puncture.
Was Raikkonen’s Damage the Root Cause?
While Bottas was the first driver to face the puncture on its own, fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen ran wide at Copse on Lap 48. He then damaged his front wing. The front-left area of the front wing was scraping across the floor. This may have spread a bit of debris on the track. That front wing also formed a groove in Raikkonen’s front-left tyre. This caused him to have a puncture there as well. Raikkonen finished the race in 17th, which was last of the runners that finished the race. And Raikkonen was also the only car that Hamilton lapped. Raikkonen’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi finished in 14th, marking another dismal race for Alfa Romeo.
Many think that Raikkonen’s incident was the root cause of the punctures that took place. This could be true. Bottas’s puncture took place coming out of Copse, in the same place where Raikkonen got damage, but on Lap 50. Sainz got a puncture on the Hangar straight on Lap 51, straight after the Maggots and Becketts section. That was where Raikkonen’s wing was scraping across the floor. Hamilton got his puncture on the straight after Woodcote and before Copse. So that is not seeming to be related to Raikkonen, but it is possible.
“I think the left front [tire] is the one that is the most hammered, and therefore more vulnerable also to debris. There were lots of pieces of carbon on the track after [Kimi] Raikkonen’s off. We saw some part of the car, part of the front wing on track, so we will never know but I guess Pirelli’s going to analyse that,” said Toto Wolff. Red Bull also said something about this. They said that when Max Verstappen came into the pits to put on a fresh set of tires, his old hard tires were ‘covered with about 50 cuts’.
Immediately after the race, Pirelli made an announcement. The Italian tire company launched an investigation into the tire failures. 3 drivers suffered it at the end of the race. Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas, and Carlos Sainz all faced punctures in the span of 2 laps. Those punctures cost Bottas and Sainz points, and could’ve cost Hamilton his home win. Pirelli’s investigation is now over, and here are the results.
“The key reason is down to a set of individual race circumstances that led to an extremely long use of the second set of tyres.
“The second safety car period prompted nearly all the teams to anticipate their planned pit stop and so carry out a particularly long final stint: around 40 laps, which is more than three-quarters the total race length on one of the most demanding tracks of the calendar.
“Combined with the notably increased pace of the 2020 Formula 1 cars (pole position was 1.2 seconds faster compared to 2019) this made the final laps of the British Grand Prix especially tough, as a consequence of the biggest forces ever seen on tyres generated by the fastest Formula 1 cars in history.
“The overall result was the most challenging operating conditions for tyres. These led to the front-left tyre (which is well-known for working hardest at Silverstone) being placed under maximum stress after a very high number of laps, with the resulting high wear meaning that it was less protected from the extreme forces in play.”
Concerns for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
After the confirmation above, there were more concerns. The next race weekend is the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This will Silverstone as well. This is because the first-ever Formula 1 World Championship Race took place on the 13th of May 1950. This is why the second race at Silverstone is the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This race has a different tire allocation to the British GP. Pirelli is giving softer tires to teams, rather than the harder range which are always there for the British Grand Prix.
To know more about the tire allocations, check out the First F1ntastic Formula 1 News Roundup, where I wrote about the news about the tire allocations for the first 8 races of 2020 and more.
Many thought that if the harder, more durable tires, couldn’t last at the British Grand Prix, how would the softer tires last at the 70th Anniversary GP? Pirelli made further confirmations in the same statement as above. They said teams will use the softer tire compounds, as planned, but Pirelli will review the usage prescription.
“For the second race at Silverstone this weekend, Pirelli confirms the nominated compounds: C2, C3, and C4, being one step softer than those seen at the last GP,” the statement added.
“Also the usage prescription will be reviewed, increasing the minimum tyre pressures to reduce the stress on the construction.”
Pirelli then confirmed the changes they made to the usage prescriptions. Pirelli also spoke about the strategies that teams would have to opt for.
“We are going up by 2psi front and 1psi rear,” Pirelli boss Mario Isola confirmed. Teams will now be running 27 psi for the front tyres and 22 psi for the rears. With the softer compounds in play, Isola said he is expecting the teams to run a two-stop strategy.
“I believe that because we are going with a one-step-softer compound, the length of the stint will be shorter by definition because the compounds are softer,” explained Isola. “Consider that the medium compound will be the hard for this weekend, the only one that was running 36 laps [in the British GP] was [Romain] Grosjean and the tyres were finished, so I struggle to believe they can run more than 30-something laps next weekend.”
As a caveat, he added: “They [the teams] are very good at managing the tyres so I cannot write that in stone, but, looking at the softness of the compound, probably most of the teams will target two-stop strategies…”
The British Grand Prix was incredibly important for Pirelli. They managed to gather a lot of important data from one race. Apart from the investigations on the punctures that took place during the race, more investigations took place from incidents after the race. Isola also revealed that Nicholas Latifi picked up a puncture on his Williams’ front left. In Milan, there are now more investigations taking place.
Isola also said that the tire issues in the British GP will lead to changes being made in the tire choices for the next races. Mugello (Tuscan GP) and Spa-Francorchamps (Belgian GP) are high-speed circuits that are similar to Silverstone. So the British GP has affected the tire choices for those races. Another track like this is Portimao (Portuguese GP), and it is not unknown, so Pirelli will take another look at the tire choices. What’s even more interesting is that next year’s tire compounds will be affected as well.
“We are also going to see what we have to do for high severity circuits Mugello and Spa for sure,” explained Isola. “I also say Portimao which is not unknown, but it looks quite demanding. We collected a lot of data from Sunday’s race that will be useful.
“I would add that it’s something to consider for 2021. Considering we’re using a product that was developed in 2019, that was designed for 2019 cars, we have the same product for 2020 cars and the plan is to carry it over to 2021 – this is something we have to consider in order to decide to agree on the product for next year,” he added.
Magnussen & Albon’s Crash
After a long talk about the tire disasters, let’s come to the final talking point of this race review. Magnussen and Albon’s crash at the end of Lap 1 that brought out the Safety Car. Coming into this race, there was a 60% historical chance of a Safety Car. This means that after looking at all the British GPs in history, there was a 60% chance of a Safety Car in this race. But nobody knew that it would come out so soon!
As shown in the video above, Albon tried to go for a move on the inside of Magnussen at Club. Magnussen hit the inside kerb of the Vale chicane badly, which then threw him off the racing line, but mainly slowed him down. Since he had such a bad exit, Albon tried to make a move down the inside. Bet there was no space, and Albon collected the Haas car and sent Magnussen into the gravel trap and out of the race.
If you look at the video you will notice that there was space when Magnussen made the mistake coming out of Vale. Albon took that space and tried to overtake Magnussen. That space was always going to disappear because Magnussen had already started turning in for Club, so Albon’s move was evidently ambitious. The Race Stewards reviewed the video footage and then decided that Albon’s move was “too late”, and gave him a five-second time penalty. Albon served the penalty when he came in for his first pit-stop. This means he came into the pits, and the mechanics had to wait for 5 seconds. Then they could make the pitstop, and change Albon’s tires. The stewards also noted he appeared to try to pull out of the attempt to pass the Haas.
“The stewards reviewed video evidence and determined that Albon was predominantly
at fault for the collision at turn 18 [Club],” they explained.
“Passes at turn 18 are unusual and difficult to execute. While Albon appeared to be the faster car the Stewards determined that he attempted the pass too late and the gap on the inside of car 20 [Magnussen] was always going to diminish.
“It appeared that he attempted to back out of the pass at the last second. The stewards took into account that Magnussen had a slower exit from turn 17.”
Albon also received 2 penalty points on his Super License for the incident.
This incident is pretty controversial, as it is a racing incident, yet Albon was penalized. Many do agree that Albon shouldn’t have gone for that move down the inside. So it does seem logical that Albon had a penalty. After that, Albon had an exciting race. He made an amazing recovery drive, with punctures aiding him to bring home a P8 finish for the Red Bull driver. Albon’s teammate Max Verstappen finished in P2, which was a great finish, but could’ve been a win if he didn’t pit in to go for the fastest lap. Without the pitstop, Verstappen would’ve easily won the race after Hamilton’s puncture.
This is the end of the F1ntastic 2020 British Grand Prix Race Review. I really enjoyed writing about the British GP, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts.