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Verstappen and Bottas proved Hamilton is human, can they do it again?

2020-08-14 14:30

Sean Parker

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: Lewis Hamilton of Gr

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on August 13, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Joao Beato/Pool via Getty Images)

• Max Verstappen became the third different Grand Prix winner in the 2020 Formula 1 season. 

• The Dutchman's win at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix ended a run of three successive victories for Lewis Hamilton.

• The Spanish GP takes place this weekend, the venue of Verstappen's maiden F1 win in 2016.

Last week I argued that Lewis Hamilton's early-season dominance put the pressure firmly on his rivals. The Briton's hat-trick of wins in the opening four races had Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen playing catch-up ahead of the 70th Anniversary British Grand Prix. 

The duo duly stepped up ,and Bottas qualified in pole position 0.063s ahead of Hamilton. Verstappen surprised the paddock and even himself to pick up his first race win in 2020, ending Hamilton's run of three successive wins.

The Dutchman became the third different winner in five races. The 22-year-old beat the Merc duo on pure pace, something that made team principal Christian Horner ecstatic. 

Both Mercedes drivers suffered from their soft compound tyres in the English heat. Verstappen took full advantage of how the harder compound performed at Silverstone and won the race despite starting fourth. 

Hamilton's second-place finish saw him break three figures in the drivers' points standings while Bottas occupied the third step on the podium he is now four points behind Verstappen in the standings. 

Pressed as to why the Red Bull performed better than the Mercedes cars at Silverstone, Verstappen said: "But they got massive tyre issues, so then from our side, we didn’t have that. That’s why I think we were so competitive." 

Hamilton said he enjoyed battling Verstappen and said: "Whilst we didn't get the result we'd hoped for, that was such a challenge out there. I actually really enjoyed the struggle. To come back at the end was fun, not enough to stop Max ,who did a great job today but enough to get good points."

Hamilton is fallible

Tyre woes aside, psychologically Verstappen knows he can beat Hamilton. The RB16 performs better in hotter conditions than its W11 rival and will hope the temperature is warm in Barcelona this weekend. 

The  Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds fond memories for Verstappen as its where he claimed his maiden F1 win four years ago. On the other hand, Hamilton has won every Spanish GP since then and heads into the race with a 30 point lead over the Dutchman. 

There's added importance for this weekend's race for both Mercedes drivers as they aim to secure the 100th pole position in the hybrid era for the team. That alone might push Bottas to battle his teammate on Saturday in qualifying.

I asked last whether Bottas and Verstappen could handle the pressure Hamilton put them under. Last week's performances showed they could undoubtedly take the challenge to the six-time world champion and beat him. 

These two drivers may not have won world championship titles, but they are fiercely competitive sportsman and show their hunger to beat the most successful driver in the hybrid era. 

If Hamilton's recent success in Barcelona is anything to go by, Verstappen and Bottas will have their hands full. But the 2020 season has thrown up its fair share of surprises, and we could see some more in Cataluyna. 

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