It is 70 years since the first F1 championship race was held at the Silverstone circuit in Northampton, and the appropriately named 70th Anniversary GP didn't disappoint in confirming why F1 has remained the pinnacle of motorsport since that first grand prix in 1950.

After a predictable and relatively lacklustre British GP last week, if you ignore exploding tyres with two laps to go, won by world champion Lewis Hamilton, the second Silverstone race was more enthralling.

It began with controversy after the FIA stewards upheld a protest by the Renault team against the legality of the brake ducts on the Racing Point car, dubbed the "pink Mercedes".

It ended with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen breaking the Mercedes dominance in the first four races, in a championship delayed and hampered by Covid-19. It wasn't a virus that put paid to Mercedes' winning chances. Rather it was the team's Achilles' heel, which is seemingly their inability to stop their tyres blistering during hot track temperatures.


There was a telling moment in parc ferme before the drivers went on to the podium. After finishing second, Hamilton asked Verstappen if he'd had any problems with his tyres. He seemed miffed when the Dutchman, after scoring his 9th career victory, and the first at Silverstone for Red Bull since Mark Webber won in 2012, replied: "No."

When Valtteri Bottas took pole position for Mercedes from Hamilton, with F1 returnee Nico Hulkenberg third for Racing Point, it seemed it was just a question of which Mercedes driver would prevail.

But the Red Bull strategists had other ideas, as Verstappen had started the race on a hard compound tyre compared to the mediums Bottas and Hamilton had qualified on.

In the first few laps both Mercedes were pulling away from Verstappen, who had started from fourth on the grid, but he crucially got ahead of Hulkenberg on the first lap, and the race slowly came back to him as tyre wear on the Mercedes became an issue.

When Bottas pitted, followed several laps later by Hamilton, Verstappen stayed out and built up a lead.

By the time he pitted for medium tyres, the two-stopping Mercedes duo were already in trouble with the second set of tyres, Bottas more so than Hamilton, as he lost second place to his team leader. But there was no catching the flying Dutchman, who recorded his first win at Silverstone.

In those early laps, Verstappen began closing on the Mercedes pair quicker than his team preferred, as they wanted him to hold back and preserve his tyres. But Max had other ideas.

"I'm not going to sit behind like a grandma," he told his race engineer on the team radio.


After winning the race, his message on twitter was a triumphant one.

"YESS BOYSS!! I'm incredibly happy with this win, I didn't see this one coming. Thanks to @redbullracing and @HondaRacingF1for their continued hard work. Now let's celebrate and hydrate. #Keep pushing F1 70."

"We haven't really had an opportunity in all the races so far to push them (Mercedes) and I could see we were pushing them. I wasn't just going to cruise behind. I had nothing to lose. Worst case P3, best case I win the race and that's what happened today."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was delighted with the result.

"It was an amazing performance today," he told Sky F1. "And starting on that reverse strategy, Max was just chilling out at the beginning of the race and it was just so easy today. Even after the Mercedes pitted and went on to a new hard we were able to pull away, and at that point you think 'this really is game on now.'"

"His grandma must drive pretty quickly." Horner quipped.


Ironically, Verstappen races with number 33, and on the same day, Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder, racing with number 33, won his first premier Moto GP race in the Czech Republic.

Hamilton admitted he was shocked by the reversal of his fortunes after his win the week before, even if he did finish that on three wheels. His only consolation was equalling Michael Schumacher's record 155 podiums.

"That was such a difficult race," Hamilton conceded. "I love a challenge but that was just an unexpected challenge. Last race we were struggling with understeer, front tyres blistering and running out and this weekend the complete opposite."

"The left rear and there was nothing I could do. It was a real shock."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was sporting a long face most of the weekend. He had to defend his team for its part in supplying the Racing Point team with the brake ducts which were deemed to have breached the sporting code, but not the technical rules in terms of copying another car's design.

And that face got longer as he tried to figure out what went wrong in this race, but there was an element of defiance in his comments.


"We have always said that the days where we lose are the days we gain the most and the days that our competition should fear," Wolff proclaimed.

"Today is a day that shows you have to be humble in the sport. People have said this championship is done and Mercedes are going to win every race and here you go, we haven't," he added.

For Bottas, it was a frustrating race and a disappointing day as he tried to cope with overheating and blistering tyres.

"Starting on pole and finishing third is not ideal," Bottas stated. "I think as a team we were sleeping at some point when Max managed to get ahead of us and our strategy was far, far from ideal so there is lots to learn from today I think."

Wolff acknowledged Bottas was unhappy but said he had assured him that there was nothing strategy-wise they could have done to change things.

"Obviously he's not in a happy place that he was P2 and Lewis was P3, but it was learning what happened on track when we got Valtteri's tyres in we saw there was actually a lot of rubber left, and we extended Lewis' stint, albeit there were big vibrations but a lot of rubber," Wolff explained.


Fourth place went to Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who said he was "extremely happy".

"It feels like a victory, it's not great to say that when you finish fourth, but the reality is we are not quick enough."

Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel, who is said to be replacing Sergio Perez in the Racing Point team next year, when it will be called Aston Martin, had another disastrous race.

He qualified 11th and finished 12th, after spinning on lap one, three corners into the race, and tried to recover from there.

Vettel didn't consider his spin was the problem, choosing to blame the team by informing them "you know you've messed up" because the team pitted him and put him out into traffic, where he struggled.

Vettel's 'divorce' from Ferrari is getting messy. He is being comprehensively beaten by his teammate and is now beating himself up in the process. For whatever reason, he is very uncomfortable in the car and finding fault with all and everything.


The same could be said about the Racing Point situation. The FIA has found that while the front brake ducts were legal, an "evolution" of last year's the rears were a Mercedes design and as teams this year have to design and build their own ducts, that means they are illegal. But that is from a sporting regulation, not a technical one.

They have had 15 championship points deducted and were fined €400,000. When you consider McLaren was fined $100 million in 2007 for illegally possessing Ferrari blueprint designs they didn't actually use, Racing Point have got away lightly, although the 15 points will hurt them financially as FIA money is based on points earned.

Lawrence Stroll, the majority shareholder of the team, is furious and says the team will appeal the decision. He is upset at comments from other team bosses and the fact that Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams will also appeal the FIA decision, given that Racing Point can continue using the brake ducts the rest of the season despite the penalties, but will be reprimanded each time they use them, as they were after the 70th Anniversary GP.

"They are dragging our name through the mud and I will not stand by nor accept this," Stroll told the media. "I intend to take all necessary actions to prove our innocence."

Red Bull is not joining the teams who will appeal, but team adviser Helmut Marko says the ruling is baffling.

"As a lawyer, its very difficult to understand that you will be punished for something you have done, but that you will be allowed to use the same parts in the three races that follow," he told Sky F1.


"It's weird there's only one penalty for it in the end. How long can you be reprimanded? Its completely unbalanced now and not very well thought out."

F1 now returns to Barcelona, where pre-season testing took place before Covid-19 hit, for the Spanish GP.

Mercedes will be wary of the heat, Red Bull will want to build on its Silverstone victory, Ferrari will be looking for pace, while Racing Point will be wanting to prove a point on the track and off it, as it prepares its appeal.

F1 is once again enthralling, intriguing, confusing and therefore compelling viewing.