Deja Vu: In England for two!

Formula One recently wrapped up a pair of races at the famed Silverstone Circuit in England: The 2020 British Grand Prix last Sunday, and yesterday, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, named in honor of the first Formula One season in 1950.

As a new fan, I am still learning what to expect at each track, such as what the layout is like. Like for example, some tracks, like Silverstone in England and Monza in Italy are both wide open, “fast” tracks. On circuits like these, drivers routinely hit top speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, and there is plenty of room for them to pass. On the other side of things, tracks like the Hungaroring in Budapest, are more technical tracks with tight corners, and where qualifying, good starts out of the gate, and precise driving play a huge role in where drivers finish, since there aren’t as many opportunities to drive with the throttle wide open. It’s like each circuit has its own unique feel. Almost like different “personalities.”

Silverstone Circuit, site of the British Grand Prix, and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

If that’s the case, Silverstone has been in a bad mood! So many blown and blistered tires over the last two weeks, along with a few wipeouts, have made for some really interesting strategy and exciting finishes! At the British Grand Prix on August 2nd, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the two Mercedes drivers, each suffered blown tires very late in the race. Hamilton coasted home on three wheels, willing his car across the finish line barely ahead of a hard-charging Max Verstappen. Bottas wasn’t so lucky. He’d had a great race, until the blown tire caused him to drop from second to dead last. This allowed Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc to move onto the podium in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, and the incident had Mercedes SERIOUSLY questioning their tire strategy heading into this weekend’s race.

I’d imagine Mercedes team leader Toto Wolff lost some sleep trying to figure out how to manage his drivers this past weekend! He was probably staring at a possible nightmare scenario, where both Bottas and Hamilton could possibly blow a tire, and not be saved by the checkered flag. Thankfully for Toto Wolff and Mercedes, this never came to pass. But unfortunately for them, Max Verstappen ended up taking the win at this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

The Flying Dutchman!

Max Verstappen is quickly becoming one of my favorite drivers! The 22 year-old phenom was born in Belgium, but he has dual citizenship from both the Netherlands and Belgium, and chooses to race under the Dutch flag. I initially became a fan of his when I binge watched the Formula One Netflix Series, Drive to Survive. He just came across as a badass, aggressive, relentless when chasing down other drivers, and willing to push his car (and himself) to the absolute limit in pursuit of victory!

Max Verstappen

Two moments from him stuck out to me yesterday, and made me root for him even more: A funny comment over the radio, and just the way he drove. Early on in the race, about 10 laps in, it seemed like many team leaders were concerned about overheating their tires thanks to the hot British weather yesterday. This was definitely the case with Christian Horner, Max’s boss, and the leader of Red Bull Racing.

At the time most teams started pitting to get fresh tires, Max was in 3rd place and absolutely FLYING. He had the throttle wide open, his foot to the floor, and was hot on the heels of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, the two Mercedes drivers leading the pack. When he was told by Christian Horner to hold back and slow down to conserve tires, his comment over the radio made me chuckle:

“Too late, This is the only chance that we could have to finish it and I’m not sitting behind like a Grandma!”

No offense to grandmas everywhere, but I just busted out laughing! This was definitely NOT the time for Max to take an easy Sunday drive, and he knew it! That fired me up, and had me thinking, “Alright! Finally we’ve got a guy who’s willing to challenge Mercedes and make them sweat it out a little bit!”

Folks, for those of you who haven’t watched lately, or read up on the recent background of Formula One, Mercedes, and especially Lewis Hamilton, have absolutely DOMINATED the sport over the last 5-6 years! They’ve won the last six titles in a row for both the Drivers and Constructors Championships, and it hasn’t even been close.

A lot of fans (including myself a little bit) have gotten tired of seeing Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton win pretty much week in and week out. Not only that, Mercedes has rarely been challenged by the other teams on a consistent basis. Ferrari is struggling mightily to return to their former glory as F1’s most historically successful team. McLaren is trying to rediscover themselves, and are currently a middle of the pack team. Racing Point is competitive, but not at Mercedes’ level. Beyond those teams, everyone else is just fighting for whatever they can get.

Hopefully that will soon change with Red Bull and Max Verstappen! Red Bull was the last team to have a run of dominance in the sport before Mercedes took over in 2014. And they did it from 2010-2013, winning four double Championships (both the Driver’s and Constructors World Championships), with a young Sebastian Vettel. Vettel in his prime, and Max Verstappen now, seem very similar: They’re both incredibly hungry, they push themselves (and their cars) to the absolute limit, and when they’re told to hold back, they often don’t listen, which is both good and bad.

Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel during his time at Red Bull

But in the case of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix this past weekend, opening up the throttle and going balls to the wall, turned out to be exactly what was needed to knock Mercedes down a peg. At least for one race. Lewis Hamilton wanted to make only one pit stop and conserve tires. But that’s hard to do when he not only has his teammate Valtteri Bottas, but also Max Verstappen breathing down his neck!

Max’s relentless driving seemed to push both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas into wearing down their tires faster than they wanted. And once both men entered pit row to make unscheduled stops, Max just FLEW past them! To give you an idea of how hard Max was pushing his car and how fast he was going, he was literally gaining anywhere from a half a second to a full second of separation every lap or two. And this was with everyone else going full speed as well! As I was watching the gap increase with every lap, my jaw just dropped! He was in some kind of zone!

Lewis Hamilton tried to make a run at Max with about 10 laps to go, but thanks to Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc holding Hamilton up, as well as his teammate Valtteri Bottas fighting to keep him behind, that allowed Max to pull away. He earned his, and Red Bull’s first win of the season, 9th overall win of his career, and he may have just permanently earned a new fan in yours truly! Mercedes may just have a serious new challenger in Max Verstappen, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN!

It’ll be interesting to see if Max and Red Bull can keep the pressure on at Formula One’s next race, the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on August 16th. This season has been so exciting for me as a new fan, and I hope the excitement gets kicked up a notch! Buckle up with me, ladies and gents. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride!

70th Anniversary Grand Prix Results

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  5. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
  6. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
  7. Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point)
  8. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
  9. Lando Norris (McLaren)
  10. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
  11. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
  12. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  13. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
  14. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
  15. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
  16. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
  17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
  18. George Russell (Williams)
  19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
  20. Kevin Magnussen (Haas, DNF)

2020 World Driver’s Championship Standings

  1. Lewis Hamilton (107 Points)
  2. Max Verstappen (77 Points)
  3. Valtteri Bottas (73 Points)
  4. Charles Leclerc (45 Points)
  5. Lando Norris (38 Points)
  6. Alex Albon (36 Points)
  7. Lance Stroll (28 Points)
  8. Sergio Perez (22 Points)
  9. Daniel Ricciardo (20 Points)
  10. Esteban Ocon (16 Points)
  11. Carlos Sainz (15 Points)
  12. Pierre Gasly (12 Points)
  13. Sebastian Vettel (10 Points)
  14. Nico Hulkenberg (6 Points)
  15. Antonio Giovinazzi (2 Points)
  16. Daniil Kvyat (2 Points)
  17. Kevin Magnussen (1 Point)
  18. Kimi Raikkonen (0)
  19. Nicholas Latifi (0)
  20. George Russell (0)
  21. Romain Grosjean (0)

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Standings

  1. Mercedes (180 Points)
  2. Red Bull (113 Points)
  3. Ferrari (55 Points)
  4. McLaren (53 Points)
  5. Racing Point (41 Points)
  6. Renault (36 Points)
  7. AlphaTauri (14 Points)
  8. Alfa Romeo (2 Points)
  9. Haas (1 Point)
  10. Williams (0)

Published by Luke Wickiser

Hi everybody! I'm passionate about many subjects, such as faith, history, politics, and sports. Stay tuned to Luke's Thoughts for updates on all these things!

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