Red Bull and Max Verstappen delivered a tactical masterclass to outfox Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on Sunday in sizzling conditions to beat both the Silver Arrows cars and claim victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
It was the first time this season someone other than Hamilton or Bottas stood on the top spot of the podium and allowed Verstappen to close the gap on second-placed Bottas to just six points with his ninth F1 victory.
“I think we did everything perfectly today,” he said. “Thank you.”
His team boss Christian Horner responded with a team in-joke: “That was brilliant. Fully-sanitised.”
Verstappen owed his victory to a team decision to start the race on hard compound tyres while his main rivals all launched from the grid on mediums, the two Mercedes men struggling to manage tyre-wear throughout the race.
Verstappen won by 11.326 seconds ahead of drivers standings leader and six-time champion Hamilton, who passed Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages. The Finn finished third.
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“I didn’t see that coming, but after the first stint it seemed we were really good on tyres. I didn’t have any tyre issues at all — a great day for us,” said the Dutch star.
Hamilton said: “That was a massive challenge, but congratulations to Red Bull. It was definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hard core as that.”
Bottas, who started from pole, said: “Very frustrating for me, to start from pole and finish third ... It’s not ideal and I think that as a team we were sleeping at some points in the race. My strategy was far from ideal.”
Hamilton’s podium finish meant he equalled Michael Schumacher’s career record of 155 podium finishes. It was also his record-extending 38th points scoring finish in a row.
Charles Leclerc came home fourth after a sterling drive for Ferrari ahead of Alex Albon in the second Red Bull, Lance Stroll and his Racing Point teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
In a race that saw many battles and overtakes, only Hamilton (second) and Stroll (sixth) finished in the same position as they started.
70th Anniversary Grand Prix Results
1. Max Verstappen, Netherlands, Red Bull
2. Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Mercedes
4. Charles Leclerc, Monaco, Ferrari
5. Alexander Albon, Thailand, Red Bull
6. Lance Stroll, Canada, Racing Point
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Racing Point
8. Esteban Ocon, France, Renault
9. Lando Norris, Great Britain, McLaren Renault
10. Daniil Kvyat, Russia, Toro Rosso
11. Pierre Gasly, France, Toro Rosso
12. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Ferrari
13. Carlos Sainz Jr, Spain, McLaren
14. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Renault
15. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Alfa Romeo
16. Romain Grosjean, France, Haas
17. Antonio Giovinazzi, Italy, Alfa Romeo
18. George Russell, Great Britain, Williams
19. Nicholas Latifi, Canada, Williams
20. Kevin Magnussen, Denmark, Haas
1. Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes, 88 points
2. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Mercedes, 58
3. Max Verstappen, Netherlands, Red Bull, 52
4. Lando Norris, Great Britain, McLaren, 36
5. Charles Leclerc, Monaco, Ferrari, 33
6. Alexander Albon, Thailand, Red Bull, 26
7. Sergio Perez, Mexico, Racing Point, 22
8. Lance Stroll, Canada, Racing Point, 20
9. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Renault, 20
10. Carlos Sainz Jr, Spain, McLaren, 15