FIVE things we learned from the F1 British GP

Lewis Hamilton could help Mercedes hit perfection, McLaren are now a better team than Ferrari and why F1 needs the return of a tyre war… FIVE things we learned from the British GP

  • Despite late drama, Mercedes largely dominated Sunday’s British Grand Prix
  • Lewis Hamilton effectively winning on three wheels continued their perfect start
  • McLaren’s overall package provides them with an unexpected edge over Ferrari
  • Sportsmail looks at five takeaways from the action at Silverstone this weekend

As perhaps true to form for the 2020 Formula One campaign, an otherwise largely dull British Grand Prix exploded into life in the dying laps.

Failing tyres led to the previously dominant Lewis Hamilton having to limp over the line with a severe puncture to claim his third victory in four races this term as Mercedes continue to take a vicegrip on the top step of the podium.

There was plenty to take away though as we look at the five things we learned from Silverstone.

Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the British Grand Prix was his third in four races in 2020

Admittedly there was an element of fortune in Hamilton being able to effectively crawl over the line with three wheels just in front of Red Bull’s charging Max Verstappen – while also recognising it takes supreme car control skill to do so.

But take away the bizarre tyre failures that hit the latter stages of the British Grand Prix (and they happen once every other year at best) and this was just another cruise control for Mercedes.

It is all but certain they will take both titles for the seventh season in a row, with Hamilton well on course to take the drivers’ crown for a sixth time in that period.

There was an element of good fortune in the finish as Hamilton’s tyre was completely bust

But they could just do it by winning every race. Their advantage over the rest of the field is so big right now, you wonder if even they are hiding a bit more pace in their car ready to be unleashed. 

Teams have come close before to a clean sweep. With Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, McLaren won 15 of the 16 races in 1988. Before that Ferrari won all seven Formula One races of the 1952 season. However that was in an era that also included the Indy 500 event in the world championship which although Ferrari entered (and failed to finish), was an American dominated affair and ignored by the rest of the F1 grid

With this season reduced to 13 races and Mercedes having no clear rival and incredible reliability, the perfect year is on… 

Ayrton Senna (left) and Alain Prost won 15 of the 16 F1 races in 1988 with their McLaren-Honda

McLaren are now better than Ferrari

There is still room for debate around this but for this to even be a discussion shows the decline of the prancing horse and the renaissance of the Woking outfit.

After four races, McLaren in third lead Ferrari in the constructors standings by eight points. It is arguable that Ferrari have a slightly better car but it certainly isn’t by much if that is the case.

Lando Norris is just about edging out Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ championship by three points in fourth and the gap between the teams could have been a lot more had Carlos Sainz not been one of the late victims of a puncture at Silverstone.

The key case in McLaren’s superiority is they have two young hungry drivers incredibly motivated in a positive team environment now.

Ferrari have the talented Leclerc… albeit in a downbeat and demoralised garage. But with Sebastian Vettel having another disappointing day down in 10th, their second driver continues to cut a figure who can’t wait to end his Maranello career soon enough.

Lando Norris continues to lead the McLaren revival with the team third in the championship

F1’s anti-racism message is still not coming across

Another week and another attempt at F1 trying to promote anti-racism doesn’t quite go to plan.

Granted it was a lot better than the unorganised chaos from the Hungarian Grand Prix when drivers were late for the pre-race ceremony or just didn’t turn up at all, but the bar has hardly been set high for the sport to improve.

At Silverstone it looked about as clean as can be. Getting drivers to conform to taking the knee or not taking the knee is not the answer, so to have those kneeling at the front and those standing in a row behind at least made it as united as can be.

However, with the list of standing drivers growing to seven, with Kevin Magnussen no longer taking the knee, once again the main talking point of promoting anti-racism was rather lost among the news around it.

Kevin Magnussen (standing nearest) joined an original six drivers who have not taken the knee

Formula One needs a tyre war return

A dull race only came to life when a few of the drivers’ tyres started to rapidly delaminate into a shredded mess late on.

F1’s exclusive tyre provider Pirelli have vowed to conduct a ‘360 degree’ investigation to try and find the cause of the late failures, with early signs suggesting debris from a damaged Kimi Raikkonen front wing may have been to blame for the punctures.

Either way, it’s tempting to say that tyres should be made less reliable to help spice up the action, but that puts drivers, stewards and spectators (when they eventually return) in needless danger and is not up for debate. 

Instead what F1 needs is another tyre company involved to take on Pirelli. A ‘tyre war’ has not been seen in the sport since Michelin and Bridgestone battled fiercely between 2001 and 2006. The concept would often see one tyre fare better than the other at certain tracks, while during the race they could also show various degrees of adaptions to changing race conditions.

In a sport lacking so many variables right now to make it interesting there is one easy implementation staring them straight in the face. 

Hamilton inspects his severe puncture which nearly cost him victory at Silverstone

Albon under pressure

Being Max Verstappen’s team-mate is arguably the least envied position in Formula One right now.

But Alex Albon, who has shown he is talented enough to feature on an F1 grid, is struggling to put in a top tier drive in a team capable of podiums. The 24-year-old is yet to record a top three finish – and that includes 13 races with Red Bull.

He was a little reckless at Silverstone with an optimistic lunge on the inside of Magnuseen which put the Haas driver out of the race and earn him a penalty.

His recovery drive to eighth was strong enough, but Red Bull are not about minor points and worryingly for the London-born Thai are not shy about shelving under performing drivers. His saving grace right now is there are few alternatives to replace him with.

Alex Albon (right) picked up a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Magnussen

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