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Max ends Merc's winning run

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Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

Pool via REUTERS

Max Verstappen

Red Bull's Max Verstappen won Formula One's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone yesterday to end Mercedes' run and become Lewis Hamilton's closest challenger.

In a race dominated by tyres and strategy, Hamilton swept past Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to take second place late in the race and stay 30 points clear in the standings.

Six times world champion Hamilton, who gained an extra point for fastest lap, also equalled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record of 155 career podium finishes.

"I didn't see it coming, but after the first stint it seemed like we were really good on tyres," said Verstappen as he celebrated his ninth win that left him with 77 points to Hamilton's 107.

"Of course there was a question mark how Mercedes were going to go on the hard tyre. We had a lot of pace in the car and I didn't really have a lot of tyre issues at all. We just kept pushing."

Bottas dropped to third overall on 73 points after starting on pole position in a race again run without spectators due to the pandemic. "As a team we were sleeping at some point when Max managed to get ahead of us and my strategy was far, far from ideal. Lots to learn from today, I think," said the Finn.

Mercedes had won the four previous races, and taken every pole, but Verstappen was alone among the top 10 on the grid to start on the hard tyres and it paid off.

The champions were mindful that Hamilton and Bottas had both suffered late blowouts at the previous weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, when Hamilton won on three wheels, in trying to eke out a one-stopper. Pirelli had brought softer tyres this time, forcing a change of strategy, and Mercedes were ill at ease in a fast-changing two-stop race.

Red Bull piled on the pressure, forcing Hamilton into a second pitstop with 11 laps to go when he was leading and looked like he might be considering a one-stopper on heavily blistered tyres.

"We haven't really had an opportunity in the races so far to push them and I could see we were pushing them. I tried to put the pressure on, they had to pit, I did my own pace," said Verstappen.