Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Formula 1 British Grand Prix proves the sport has put the Max Verstappen problem behind it

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Formula 1 British Grand Prix proves the sport has put the Max Verstappen problem behind it

After the 2023 British Grand Prix, Red Bull held a 208-point lead in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship standings, having won all ten races of the season to complete the most dominant campaign in Formula 1 history.

A year on, they are still in first place, but their lead has shrunk to just 71 points and they have won just seven of the 12 Grands Prix so far in 2024.

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Impressive performance, certainly, but the Milton Keynes team’s clinical dominance of Formula 1 has been definitively shattered by a group of rivals who have quickly overtaken them.

Sunday’s stunning British Grand Prix was proof of that.

Red Bull’s dominance is over

Although three-time world champion Max Verstappen put in a very strong, controlled drive to finish second behind winner Lewis Hamilton, the Red Bull was only the third-fastest car all weekend and the Dutchman would have finished well behind the fastest. had changing circumstances did not bring him closer to the leading group in the final phase.

At various points in the race, Mercedes and McLaren appeared to trade pace advantages. The Silver Arrows were consistent at the start and looked comfortable in the dry, before the McLarens’ superior balance through the corners allowed them to take the lead in the wet.

You could even argue that if Lando Norris had opted for the medium tyres instead of the softs for his final stint, he could have passed Hamilton for the win.

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Max Verstappen and Red Bull will face much stronger competition in 2024

But Hamilton was worth more than his money record breaking victoryby making smart strategic decisions throughout the race and maximising the impressive speed of a car that looked fast, stable and reassuringly predictable, even as the weather caused major changes in track conditions.

The victory was as deserved as it was popular – after all, it was the seven-time world champion’s first win in more than 900 days, since his enthralling season-long battle with Max Verstappen in 2021 ended in desperate disappointment.

By finishing first, Hamilton won his record 16th season and also became the sixth consecutive winner of the current season, following in the footsteps of Verstappen, Norris, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc and team-mate George Russell.

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Resurrected Mercedes

Mercedes are making a significant comeback. They started the season as the fifth fastest team on the grid, even behind Aston Martin, and have now won the last two races. They are closing in on Ferrari for third place in the constructors’ standings.

Russell’s victory in Austria may have been a blessing in disguise as Verstappen and Norris collided after their wheel-to-wheel battle, but he and Hamilton qualified further forward in the field on Saturday.

In addition, the two can stay in touch with the people around them for longer and longer periods on Sundays.

Mercedes have improved their pace significantly in recent weeks

Their genuine pace and the improvement already shown by McLaren – which has developed the fastest car in the field in the last five or six laps – means that Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Piastri and Verstappen could very realistically have won at Silverstone.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were never in contention for a podium finish in their Ferraris. They have had a number of difficult weekends since Monaco, where they seem to have fallen slightly behind their rivals. At the moment, they are at best out of the running for a podium finish.

But despite their recent struggles, the Italian squad are likely just one more strong upgrade package away from a chance to fight at the front again, as was the case earlier this season.

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F1’s Verstappen problem is no longer

This means that the Verstappen-Red Bull problem in Formula 1 has been solved in just a few months.

In the absence of any disasters, it is no longer the case that one team and driver wins on any given weekend, increasing the tension and anticipation for each Grand Prix.

Instead, four teams and their drivers all have a realistic chance of finishing first between now and the end of the season.

There is currently fierce competition at the front of the Formula 1 grid

Certainly, the lead that Verstappen and Red Bull built up in those early laps of the campaign, when their pace advantage was still clear, means they are unlikely to run into trouble. overtaken in both championshipsbut the unpredictability of outcomes and the hard-hitting racing is what F1 fans have been crying out for over the past two seasons – and it has now become the new reality.

In less than two weeks, Formula 1 races will take place in Hungary again. At the moment, no one knows who will win at the Hungaroring.

Motorsport doesn’t get more exciting than this.

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