The British Grand Prix had been a fairly routine affair until the final handful of laps, when a series of tyre failures blew the contest wide open.
Max Verstappen crossed just five seconds behind Lewis Hamilton at the finish, with the world champion’s car operating on just three wheels after a dramatic late tyre failure. But his hadn’t been the only one.
Here’s how the final portion of the 53-lap race unfolded.
Lap 48: Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo slows down the Hangar Straight with what appears to have been a front wing failure, with chunk of it missing on the left-hand side. The damage has also caused some damage to the front-left tyre. The front wing debris has fallen off the race track, meaning there is no need for the stewards to deploy the Safety Car for the third time in the race.
Lap 50: Valtteri Bottas suffers a dramatic front-left puncture while in second position. He crawls around the circuit to the pit-lane, handing second place to Max Verstappen in the process.
By the time Bottas exits the pits he is 12th.
Red Bull seizes the opportunity to pit Verstappen for fresh tyres so he can attack for fastest lap, something which is rewarded with an extra point. Mercedes instructs Hamilton that his only job is to bring the tyres home safely, although they do not capitalise on his lead by pitting.
Lap 51: McLaren’s Carlos Sainz suffers an identical failure and goes straight on at the Maggotts/Becketts complex. Sainz had been running in fourth position after Bottas’ drop down the order, but after pitting himself he would finish 13th.
Lap 52: Hamilton leads by 32 seconds entering the final lap but his front left tyre fails in a similar way at Luffields. TV cameras pick him up shortly afterwards, as he crossed the old start-finish straight half way around the current configuration.
Hamilton crawls home and, for a brief moment, looks like he isn’t going to make it around the final chicane. He crosses the line five seconds ahead of the charging Max Verstappen.
That last lap almost had me 😅 We still got this 🏆🏁 I can’t express how grateful I am to all the fans, and to my incredible team. To think this is the 7th home win is just insane. Thanks for the positive energy everyone, we did this together. #BritishGP #TeamLH #StillWeRise @F1 pic.twitter.com/PyAPZ6SZrI
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) August 2, 2020
Verstappen opens his radio channel to say “f— sake!”, wondering what might have been in different circumstances.
After the race he says: “It’s lucky and unlucky, you know. They [Mercedes] were of course in the race too quick.
“And yeah, the tyres at one point they didn’t look great, with like 10 laps ago, so I was already on the radio, ‘Guys, you know, the right front doesn’t look very pretty.’
“Then of course Valtteri got a puncture. I came on to the radio like I’m gonna back it out. Then they boxed me to go for the fastest lap.
“And then of course, unfortunately Lewis got a puncture himself. But you know, I’m very happy with second. It’s a very good result for us again.”