Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bottas Beats Hamilton for 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: 2020 Pirelli & C. S.p.A. 

Due to the complications of 2020, Formula 1 scheduled a second race at the Silverstone Circuit paying tribute to the series’ 70 years of competition. Occurring one week after the British Grand Prix, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix is taking place on the same 5.891-kilometer track with a 52-lap main event planned for Sunday. 

Setting the field for the special event, Saturday’s qualifying for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was another battle between the competitors of the Mercedes AMG F1 Team. While Lewis Hamilton prevailed in qualifying for the British Grand Prix with a record pole time, the return to Silverstone saw teammate Valtteri Bottas claim the top grid position. “Pole today feels really good. It’s a privilege to drive this amazing car – it’s so quick. I love qualifying when it’s like that, it was great fun.” said Bottas in a team’s press release. A qualifying performance that ultimately resulted in a very close one-two performance for the Mercedes AMG team, the Fin’s lap was only 0.063 seconds faster than Hamilton’s best effort. Recording a 1-minute, 25.154-second lap time in Q3, Bottas’ pole time with noticeably slower than the Hamilton’s qualifying winning time seven days earlier. While Bottas as well as Hamilton ran the same Pirelli C3 spec slick tires in Q3, wind conditions have been suggested as a factor to the more than 0.8-second slower top lap.  

Photo Credit: 2020 Pirelli & C. S.p.A. 

With the additional weekend at Silverstone, it’s logical to assume teams and drivers can approach the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix with a greater amount of familiarity. In the case of German Nico Hulkenberg, the second race at the track appears to have given the Racing Point relief driver a chance at redemption. Getting a late call up after Racing Point’s regular driver Sergio Perez was sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test, Hulkenberg faced a difficult time getting acquainted with the pink-coloured race car during the British Grand Prix weekend. Unable to start last Sunday’s event due to a loose clutch bolt that prevented the start-up of his Racing Point RP20's engine, Nico Hulkenberg emerged this week with a new source of momentum. Hulkenberg was among the top-six on the time charts for all three practice sessions for this week’s grand prix including posting faster times than full-time Racing Point driver Lance Stroll in two practices. In qualifying, the #27 Racing Point RP20 race car pulled off a minor upset by registering the third-fastest time at the end of Q3. Nico Hulkenberg commented on his impressive run in post-race saying “It's been a crazy week and after the highs and lows of my comeback last week, P3 on the grid for tomorrow is a nice highlight!”

Photo Credit: 2020 Pirelli & C. S.p.A. 

Slotting into the grid spot beside Hulkenberg is last week’s race runner-up Max Verstappen. The Honda-powered Red Bull RB16 piloted by the Dutch driver continues to consistently challenge the Mercedes-Benz powered machines. A former teammate of Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo placed his factory-backed Renault in fifth place for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix starting alongside the second Racing Point car wheeled by Lance Stroll. Finishing seventh in the British Grand Prix, Pierre Gasly regained the position as a starting spot in his AlphaTauri race car. 

A loyal participant of Formula 1 since its inaugural year in 1950, Scuderia Ferrari is entering the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix continuing what has been a confusingly inconsistent 2020 outing. Charles Leclerc is starting Sunday’s race in eighth place while Sebastian Vettel failed to make the Q3 session. Vettel’s 11th place grid spot is the latest disappointment for the past multiple world championship driver.  

While the British Grand Prix ended with a wild finish as a result to several tire failures, the same circumstance is unlikely for the fifth race of the 2020 Formula 1 season. Prior to both Silverstone races, Pirelli committed to supply a softer variety of tires for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. The tire supplier anticipates all teams will choose to operate on a selection of two-stop strategies. 

2020 Formula 1
70th Anniversary Grand Prix
Starting Grid

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