The Morning After: Black Arrow Beatdown

Lewis Hamilton, 2020 British Grand Prix Saturday

A performance as dominant as ever, Mercedes continued to stretch their already-insurmountable pace advantage on Saturday at Silverstone.

“I guess we’re not making many new friends out there” – Toto Wolff.

No Toto, I don’t suppose you are.

How could you after a day that saw both cars obliterate the track record, while your only “rivals” went backwards compared to last year? Max Verstappen: 0.049 seconds slower than he was in 2019. Charles Leclerc: +0.255s. Valtteri Bottas: -0.477s. Lewis Hamilton: -0.796s. As Fernando Alonso would say, what a “yoke”.

That said, I do wonder: how much of this is Mercedes doing Mercedes things, and how much of this is Ferrari and Red Bull dropping the ball? I feel there’s a case to be made for both sides, although ultimately the end result is the same: we get days like Saturday.

Quick Hits

Not quite sure what to make of Nico Hulkenberg’s qualifying performance, being unable to get through to Q3 on softs when his teammate did it on mediums isn’t a great look, but there’s obviously still mitigating circumstances. I’d expect him to be much more competitive next week though

I don’t think it’s fair to say Red Bull should press the panic-button with Alex Albon… because Helmut Marko is probably already sitting on it

Speaking of the good doctor, this quote is him at his trolling best

Sunday race strategy preview, courtesy of Pirelli

The theoretically quickest strategy for the 52-lap British Grand Prix is a one-stopper, assuming that temperatures remain similar to today. The fastest way is to start on the soft tyre for 18 to 22 laps and then move onto the hard until the end.
Second-fastest is a two-stopper, also starting on the soft. After 16 to 18 laps switch to the soft again for another 16 to 18 lap stint, before going onto the medium until the end. The hard tyre can be used as an alternative to the medium: either for the middle or the final stint.
Third-quickest is a different one-stopper: starting on the medium for 21 to 24 laps, then hard to the end. It’s not advisable to do a soft-medium one-stopper, as tyre wear then becomes too marginal.

FOCUS ON

  • Strategy. Many of the drivers started Q2 on the medium tyre, with both Mercedes drivers, Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Lance Stroll (Racing Point) setting their best times on this compound. As a result, they will start the race on the yellow tyre tomorrow.
  • Temperatures. Today’s temperatures were cooler than the extreme heat of yesterday, with track temperatures of around 40 degrees in qualifying. Tomorrow’s conditions should be similar to today.
  • Wind. The cars were affected by gusting winds throughout qualifying, which influenced aerodynamic grip.
  • Speed. The track record was already broken by Valtteri Bottas in the early stages of qualifying, before being lowered again twice in Q3 by Hamilton. This year’s pole was 1.2 seconds faster than the 2019 pole, on the same tyres.
  • Close racing. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly set exactly the same time in Q2 (albeit on different tyres), but only Stroll went through to Q3 as he set the time first.