Motorsport

Motorsport Monday: Duncraig Dan and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

First Up – Toto Wolff and James Allison testing out a Mercedes electric scooter, with Toto in a very interesting position for a married man…

It did not go unnoticed by Susie Wolff…..


Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix


Circuit: Silverstone

Duncraig Dan 2020, Chapter 5: A 70th Birthday Where Nobody Gets Invited

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and that was what Formula 1 did with this revised 2020 season calendar, with a race to properly honour the 70th anniversary of the premier four-wheel class of world motorsport, at the very track where it began in May of 1950.

Of course, the big news since the explosive ending to the actual British Grand Prix last weekend…

RENAULT’S PROTEST AGAINST RACING POINT’S BRAKE DUCTS WAS UPHELD.

And my word, wasn’t the punishment classic FIA inconsistency, despite the team not actually breaching a rule in the design of the car.

15 points (7.5 for each car) deducted from the Constructors’ Championship, and a 400,000 Euro fine for the Pink Mercedes team, which was just for Austria, because they were only reprimanded for using the car in Styria and Hungary.

The joke on Friday was that they should change their name to Racing -15 Point.

This is far from done, because AT LEAST 5 teams have announced they intend to appeal the severity of the punishment – Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams don’t think it’s harsh enough, while Racing Point are obviously appealing it because they’d be strange not to.

Lawrence Stroll released an angry video in response, telling everyone about how angry and appalled he was, especially to the other teams for apparently dragging Racing Point’s name through the mud.”

Well Larry, if you don’t like it, why not just buy the entire grid so nobody can be mean to your team for your Copy & Paste of a car design.

Meantime with Racing Point, Sergio Perez failed another COVID-19 test on Thursday, giving Nico Hulkenberg another weekend in the car, after he didn’t even get to race in the British Grand Prix.

And, after last week’s late race tyre implosions, Pirelli had to scrap the 2021 tyre test in FP2, but they decided to stick with their original decision to bring the ‘softer’ C2, C3 and C4 tyre compounds for Silverstone II, although the minimum tyre pressures were raised to stop the punctures.

For those not tyre-literate, the C4 tyre is effectively a 2019 Ultra Soft, and with the way these tyres were wilting at top speed with 6Gs of force, teams quickly realised in Practice that the Soft would age like milk.


Qualifying


George Russell once again escaped Q1 for Williams, and would be involved with an incident with Esteban Ocon’s Renault, who completely blocked the racing line while the Williams was on a flying lap, which would earn the Frenchman a 3-place penalty, dropping him from 11th to start 14th.

While most teams stuck to running either the Soft or Medium, Red Bull chose to run Max Verstappen on the Hard tyre in Q2, being the only driver to do so, and he had no difficulty reaching Q3, which proved to be a smart decision by the Austrian team.

Backing up their pace from FP2, the Renault was looking very good in Q3 – While Hamilton and Bottas had smashed everyone on Soft tyres, Dan did his first run on the Medium tyre, and was ‘only’ a second behind in 3rd!

On the final runs, Hamilton bettered his own time, but Bottas got the last laugh this, grabbing pole position by 6 hundredths, as Hulkenberg’s massive return saw him start from 3rd, Verstappen grabbed 4th, while a bad middle sector cost Dan a second-row start, although he was a season-best 5th.

It is remarkable what a Pink Mercedes can achieve with a decent driver in the car.

Also, Bottas now has the record for the most consecutive Q3 appearances – The only time he’s missed Q3 since joining Mercedes was his first race for the team at Australia 2017, which was 67 meetings ago.


Race (52 Laps)


It was the first race in the Pirelli era (2011-) that no driver started on the Softest available tyre, with everyone starting on the Mediums, while Verstappen started on the Hard tyre.

In a frantic start, Sebastian Vettel had a horrible getaway and made another bad error, spinning by himself at Turn 1, narrowly avoiding wiping out Sainz, while Ricciardo was caught wide fighting Hulkenberg and passed by Stroll, as Bottas fought off Hamilton to stay in the lead.

With his race compromised, to go with his usual lack of pace, Vettel was later heard complaining that his strategy didn’t make any sense.

Seb is leaving Maranello after 2020, but he’s got to be a good chance of ending his Ferrari stint in a similar manner to Alain Prost in 1991 – By getting the arse before the end of the season.

So the race evolved into the usual business – The Mercedes pulled away from everyone, Verstappen was a clear 3rd on the ‘inferior’ tyre, the Racing Points were a clear 4th and 5th, and Daniel putting himself in a clear 6th.

Albon was the first driver to pit on Lap 7 from 9th place, getting him on to the Hard tyre and out of traffic, which proved to be a good move.

A lap later, Gasly was in for Alpha Tauri to make the same tyre change, emerging just ahead of Albon and covering the undercut, and back in front, Verstappen was putting himself in a good position, lapping at the same pace as the Mercedes and keeping the gap to Bottas within 3 seconds.

Hilariously, Verstappen was now within a second of Hamilton, and instead of being told to push up to him, the Red Bull pit wall told Max to back off slightly to cool the car to save the long-term pain, which was met, in simple terms, with a “I’m not sitting behind like a grandma.”

Audio: FOM

Not driving like a grandma would prove to be a good move, because it kept the pressure on!

By Lap 12, the Mediums (Which were Softs last week) were now in trouble, as the Hard tyre was proving to be the superior race tyre, with the Mercedes once again suffering serious blistering on the left rear.

Bottas pitted on Lap 13, handing the lead to Hamilton, and dropping the Finn behind Dan in 6th place, while Hamilton only had to wait an extra lap, emerging behind Bottas, who was now a second faster than Verstappen on fresh rubber, and had a much bigger lead over Lewis to boot.

Ricciardo also pitted on Lap 14, being the only driver to go on to Mediums in the midst of a Hard tyre stint, which was really the beginning of his downfall, because he (By his own admission) pitted too early, the Hard was also the race tyre to be on, and the set of Mediums he went on to barely lasted 13 laps.

Meantime, Albon made a brave move on Raikkonen on the outside of Copse, barely keeping the car within track limits, but somehow getting ahead of the Alfa Romeo, which proved to be the start of Albon’s love of overtaking at Copse.

Another good move was LeClerc on Norris on Lap 20, lining the Ferrari on the outside of Aintree corner, and the Monegasque blew right past the McLaren with DRS down the Wellington Straight, as Albon popped up again at the old pit complex, rounding up Gasly at Woodcote Corner, not even needing to pass him at Copse.

Amazingly, by Lap 21, Verstappen, via good tyre management, was once again lapping faster than Bottas and Hamilton, and Mercedes were ONCE AGAIN struggling with blistering rear tyres in the warm temperatures!

This race was getting interesting!

There was also an incident between Kevin Magnussen and Nicolas Latifi at Stowe on Lap 18, where the Dane went slightly wide and veered back on straight into the path of the Canadian, with a hard bump earning him a 5-second penalty.

Verstappen pitted on Lap 26, having built up a 20 second lead, but a slight problem with the right rear tyre allowed Bottas back into the lead, but with fresh tyres, Verstappen was back ahead by Luffield corner, and the Dutchman was off and gone and building his lead again.

With a one-stopping Charles LeClerc closing in, Dan pitted for the second time on Lap 27 for his stint on the Hard tyre, emerging back into traffic behind Kvyat in the middle of a DRS train, initiated by the one-stopping Renault of Ocon.

Albon was once again in action at Copse on Lap 29, this time picking off Lando Norris in another entertaining move around the outside.

Speaking of Norris, it was also around this time that there was a particular Norris fan who appeared on the Fan Cam at Turn 3…. Pouring milk on himself.

With his afternoon turning sour, Ricciardo spun on Lap 31, making a simple ‘Seb’ error as Sainz moved alongside at Turn 2, getting on the gas too early and turning around, dropping him down to 12th behind Albon, and pretty much done in the fight for 6th with the damage to his tyres.

Ricciardo and Vettel both spin trying to avoid making contact with Sainz on their outside… You can tell they were teammates.

Verstappen and Bottas both pitted on Lap 32, and they were now in a straight battle of speed, as Hamilton was making the gambit to try and one-stop with blistering rear tyres.

After falling backwards and being passed by Norris, Ricciardo finally pitted on Lap 37, and fell to 15th, never to sniff the points again.

It was also around that Kimi Raikkonen set a new record, overtaking Michael Schumacher for the most laps raced in Formula One – Schumi did have 16,825, with Kimi now on 16,845.

Approaching Lap 40, LeClerc on his one-stop was now making things interesting, getting to within 2 seconds of Bottas, who was proving no match for Verstappen, whose race pace was consistently

Mercedes finally accepted defeat on Lap 42 and brought in Hamilton, who had a massive lockup just getting down to the 80 km/h pit speed limit, and the Brit emerged in 4th behind LeClerc, and 11 seconds off Verstappen with 10 laps to go.

Now finally able to show some decent speed, Hamilton was setting qualifying laps compared to Verstappen and Bottas, claiming the Fastest Lap bonus point on Lap 43 and in no time at all was within a second of LeClerc, but it took a lap longer than expected to clear the Ferrari, and he lost valuable time to attack 1st and 2nd.

Meantime, there was disappointment for everyone tracking Nico Hulkenberg, as he had to pit from 5th on Lap 45, with what was described as a massive vibration on his tyres, which was apparently so bad he wouldn’t have made the finish without a tyre change, although even without the vibration, Hulk, and Lance Stroll for that matter, were going to get passed by a flying Albon.

Despite conspiracy theories that they’d only pitted him so he couldn’t humiliate Stroll any further, it was definitely to ensure Hulk would make the finish, although it did cost him at least 6th place.

With 5 laps remaining, Verstappen was looking good for the win, with a 6 second lead to Bottas, as Hamilton was absolutely flying to within 2 seconds of Bottas, having made up 1.5 seconds in a lap.

The great news for us, and probably Red Bull, was that the Mercs were free to race, although it looked inevitable that Lewis would take 2nd place without the need for “Valtteri, it’s James.”

On Lap 50, Bottas’ left rear was shot, and Hamilton went straight past with DRS, confirming 2nd place, and completing a miserable day for Daniel, the only time he was involved in the fight for the podium places was when Verstappen lapped him on the Hangar Straight.

Adding to Red Bull’s delight, Albon made another move on the outside at Copse, this time sweeping aside Stroll for 5th.

In a great strategic drive, a fully sanitised Verstappen whipped Mercedes by 10 seconds to win the only 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in history, the first time Mercedes had been beaten at Silverstone since 2012, as Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher on 155 career podiums, and Bottas had been buggered by Mercedes strategy once again to finish 3rd from pole, and LeClerc eeked out another big result with that arse of a Ferrari, finishing 4th on a one-stop strategy.

In a race with no Safety Cars, Magnussen would end up being the only retirement, not finishing due to excessive vibration on his tyres, with Haas retiring the car as a safety precuation.

It was Red Bull’s first win at Silverstone since Mark Webber in 2012, and shock horror, that was Mark’s 9th Grand Prix win….

Today was Verstappen’s 9th Grand Prix win!


We have found the thermal exhaust port in the Mercedes Death Star.

WARM TEMPERATURES.

THE CAR OVERHEATS ITS TYRES IN WARM WEATHER.

Good thing we’re going to Barcelona next weekend, and given it’s Barcelona in mid-August, it’s going to be warm.

In another highlight post-race, Hamilton, obviously through muscle memory, walked off the podium with Verstappen’s winners trophy.

As for the Honey Badger from Duncraig, after a couple of good races, Renault were back to square one, because they really dropped the ball on Ricciardo’s strategy, managing to pit him and release him into traffic twice, when they really could’ve finished in 6th or 7th.

That’ll teach us to get optimistic about Daniel getting good results.

Lastly, as I mentioned briefly in the MotoGP report, how about this for a coincidence:

The fact that Binder and Verstappen are both backed by Red Bull makes it all the more freakier.

Next Up: The Spanish Grand Prix this weekend

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