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Last Sunday’s race had some of the most bewildering final laps of a Formula One race ever, as Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton limped to a three-wheeled victory at the 2020 British Grand Prix.
Pulling in just 5.8 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Hamilton’s final-lap tyre puncture nearly cost him his third victory of the season and a record-breaking seventh home Grand Prix win. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc pulled into third place.
Hamilton said, after the race: “I have never experienced anything like that before. That last lap was one of the most challenging laps I have ever had. Up until that point, everything was going relatively smoothly, the tyres felt great and I was doing some management. When I heard Valtteri (Bottas)’s tyre had gone, I looked at mine and everything seemed fine, but I started to back off. Then, it just suddenly deflated down the straight. It was a heart-in-your-mouth feeling and then I was just trying to keep the speed up without damaging the car.
“I think the gap was 30 seconds at one stage, but it was coming down quite quickly and I was thinking “How far is it to the end of the lap?”. But we managed to get the car across the line. That last lap is definitely one to remember, I feel so grateful that I got it back and could secure the win. It was difficult standing up there on the podium without the crowd, but hopefully I did everyone proud who was supporting us from home.”
Hamilton’s team mate Bottas was not so lucky; his tyre puncture with three laps remaining just as he crossed the pit lane dropped him from second to 11th position. The Silverstone circuit has always been tough on tyres because of its hard turns but last Sunday’s race was even more brutal with Hamilton, Bottas and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz suffering punctures.
Tyre supplier Pirelli has opened an investigation into the tyre troubles ahead of next week’s 70th anniversary race, with boss Mario Isola saying that in addition to the excessive wear on the tyres by the demanding track, the punctures could also be attributed to debris left on the track after Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikonnen broke off his front wing after going wide on the track.
Ignoring the carnage, Verstappen also made one of the race’s more contentious decisions as he pitted in order to secure the extra point for fastest lap, with analysts saying that he might have been able to close the gap behind punctured Hamilton had he raced through to win the race.
Hamilton now leads the championship with 88 points, 30 points ahead of Bottas and 36 points ahead of Verstappen. The 70th anniversary Grand Prix takes place next weekend at the same circuit.