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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Verstappen adds 'Mercedes threat' to resume - Hamilton closes the gap but Max continues candidacy for driver of the year


While we were all expecting a fascinating battle on Sunday, spots of rain began to fall, quickly becoming buckets, soaking any and all F1 pundits and turning each team's strategy on its head. Mercedes finished 1-2 on the road, but the conditions gave Verstappen a fighting chance in a race-long battle and mixed up the order behind.

Max joins the big boy table

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing: Started 3rd, Finished 2nd

Verstappen was able to put his car comfortably in third on the grid, the only man within a sniff of the Mercedes' pace
Credit: Thompson/Getty

As impressively as Verstappen has performed this year, Silverstone was arguably his gold star drive. The win in Spain was spectacular but this was the first time the Dutchman truly took the race to the Mercedes, forcing the Silver Arrows to choose an awkward strategy and ultimately pressing Nico Rosberg’s Merc to breaking point. That was all after an impressive performance in tricky conditions.

Having put Daniel Ricciardo thoroughly in the shade all weekend, Verstappen was able to put his car comfortably in third on the grid, the only man within a sniff of the Mercedes’ pace. Verstappen lost the opportunity to grow from a kitten to a predatory cat amongst the pigeons at the start, as a safety car start was called in response to a brief deluge on the Silverstone circuit, removing any opportunity to attack one of Mercedes weaknesses: their starts.

Without the potential to jump one or both of the Mercedes' at the start, the Dutchman looked set for an afternoon duel with teammate Ricciardo. That wasn’t the case though, as Verstappen was able to stick with the Silver Arrows throughout the first stint. It looked as though the top three, amongst others could have played themselves into trouble by staying out an extra couple of laps for intermediates but they were bailed out by a Pascal Wehrlein spin at turn one bringing out the virtual safety car and reducing their pitlane loss.

It became clear on lap eight though that Verstappen was far more comfortable in the dry conditions than Rosberg. Not only did he have the pace to race with the Mercedes pair but he started to close the gap and pressure Rosberg. After several laps of pressure and being thwarted by Rosberg’s power advantage bailing him out on the long straights, especially against DRS, it all came to a head on lap 18. Mad Max got bold and tried to surprise Rosberg with a move around the outside of Becketts, pulling off one of the best overtakes of the year with Rosberg lacking the pace or grip to run him off the road before entering Chapel and the Hangar Straight.

Max got bold and tried to surprise Rosberg with a move around the outside of Becketts, pulling off one of the best moves of the year

Verstappen was faultless and his perfect drive brought him into play for another unlikely win. Even when the trio moved onto slicks, Verstappen had the pace to compete and it was causing Mercedes problems, unable to let them perform what would have been a faster three stop strategy for fear that the Dutchman could make his tyres last as he did in Spain and Austria.

Verstappen’s only minor error was a slide at turn one, in the treacherous puddle on a dry track, following Lewis Hamilton off on lap 28. In the end, the superior pace of the Mercedes finally told, with Rosberg needing several attempts at passing young Max under DRS on the Hangar straight, eventually getting by on lap 39. And while conventional wisdom was to pit once Rosberg made it through, Red Bull played a blinder, staying out to the end in the hope that one of the Mercs had a problem or a penalty. They were right, as Rosberg's seventh gear failed bringing Verstappen into range before an illegal radio message promoted Verstappen up to second in his best ever drive in F1.

Strategy secures another bonus result for Pérez

Sergio Pérez, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 10th, Finished 6th

Pérez’s great 2016 continued with another solid drive
Credit: Sahara Force India

Pérez’s great 2016 continued with another solid drive although his performance was boosted by a great strategy call from Force India. Now to be fair, Force India should know the Silverstone weather better than anyone else but it certainly helped as Péez leapt into the leading pack when the field changed from wet tyres to intermediates, benefitting from the slow pace under the VSC while he was in the pits.

Having been 10th in the queue behind the safety car, Pérez stayed out for an extra two laps, jumping up to fourth and opening up a 10 second gap on the field.

The trouble was Ricciardo behind had the pace to close the gap up, but Sergio was able to hold off the Aussie’s advances until lap 21. Now with a 20 second gap to the field, Pérez was able to maintain his medium compound tyres and control his race.

There was just one threat to Pérez from behind in the form of Kimi Räikkönen and while Pérez couldn’t fend off the Ferrari in the closing laps, he was able to secure a sixth points finish of the year. It was his best beyond his two podiums, as the Mexican chases down Valtteri Bottas in a bid to be the best of the rest behind the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls.

Sainz unfazed by Räikkönen contract

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Toro Rosso: Started 7th, Finished 8th

Others would be left despondent by doors to bigger teams closing, with Verstappen being promoted over him to Red Bull and Räikkönen bafflingly being offered an extension at Sainz’s next logical target, Ferrari. Despite this, Sainz continued his unbeaten streak against Daniil Kvyat, thrashing him 22-2 on points in their six races together.

Sainz continued his unbeaten streak against Daniil Kvyat
Credit: Fox/Getty

Sainz excelled in qualifying, beating Hülkenberg and Alonso to eighth in Q3, moving up to seventh with Vettel penalty. Despite all the muddling around, Sainz stayed in seventh throughout the first stop window before starting a long battle with Kimi Räikkönen, with the Finn eventually coming out on top on lap 25. Hülkenberg followed him through on the next lap to demote Sainz to eighth.

Massa and then Vettel attempted to chase down the Spaniard but they couldn’t make it through, with the four time champion ultimately running out of laps to make the advantage of his Ferrari chassis pay.