P4 and P5 for the Bulls in a bruising, battling, brilliant British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Pierre matched the best result of his career with a committed drive to fourth place at Silverstone, as Max had to settle for fifth place after the Dutchman was denied a shot at a podium finish when he was hit by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Following a mid-race safety car sparked by an off for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Max found himself in fourth place and hunting down Vettel who had risen to third following the caution.
On lap 38 Max set up the perfect move, closing up to the four-time champion and powering past around the outside into Stowe. The move meant that the Red Bull driver went slightly wide on exit and Vettel saw an opportunity. He closed up behind Max but misjudged the braking point for the following corner and slammed into the back of Max’s RB15. Both drivers bounced off into the gravel trap but Max was quickly able to get going again and rejoined in fifth behind Pierre. Vettel droped to the back of the field and was later handed a time penalty for causing the collision. Having sustained heavy damage, however, Max was left to nurse his car to the flag behind Pierre, who also enjoyed an action-packed afternoon, battling hard with eventual third-place man Charles Lelcerc.
The furious Red Bull-Ferrari combat went right to the race start. When the lights went out, polesitter Valtteri Bottas held his advantage and stayed marginally ahead of eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton.
Leclerc held third and Max too kept his grid spot, with the Dutchman tucking in behind the Ferrari at the start. Pierre, starting in fifth place, made a good getaway, but Vettel’s start was better and the Ferrari managed to get past the Red Bull on the run to turn 1.
Hamilton pushed hard on the opening laps to get past his team-mate but Bottas was just able to repel a number of attacks. Behind them Leclerc was staying in touch with the leaders but in a bid to save his starting soft tyres, the Ferrari driver was holding up Max, who was eagerly looking for a way to clear the Monegasque driver and make the most of his starting medium tyres.
Max pushed hard to get past Leclerc but the Ferrari driver resisted well. He eventually forced Max into overcommitting and that allowed Vettel to put pressure on the Dutchman. That battle, though, allowed Pierre to close up to Vettel and the Frenchman pounced on lap 12, ambushing the German down the inside of turn 3 to take P5.
Pierre’s hold on P5 was brief, however. At the end of the lap the Team pitted Pierre, bolting on hard tyres and returning him to the action in P10.
On the following lap the Team brought Max into the pitlane, immediately behind Leclerc. Incredible work by the pit crew put the Dutchman out into the pit lane alongside the Ferrari but when the pair retook the track Max was in front.
His advantage was shortlived, however. On cold tyres Max struggled from grip as Leclerc pushed and the Red Bull ran wide. Leclerc swept past to retake P3.
What followed was an epic battle for the position, with both drivers racing right on the limit. And as Max’s attacks became more and more frequent, Leclerc’s defence became more and more desperate – to the point that Max’s final attempt resulted in an extreme defensive move by Leclerc that had the Dutchman complaining over the radio about the Ferrari driver’s driving.
The epic battle was defused when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo and beached his car in the gravel. The Safety Car was deployed to allow the car to be recovered and the caution provoked a flurry of pit stops.
Hamilton was first in for hard tyres, a move that handed him the lead ahead of Bottas who didn’t stop. Vettel was next in for the same compound and Max then followed suit.
Leclerc was briefly left on track and when Ferrari eventually pitted him for hard tyres he dropped to P6 behind Max and Pierre, with the top three positions now occupied by Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel.
When the race went green again the combat between Max and Leclerc resumed. This time it was Leclerc on the offensive and with Max struggling for grip on cold hard tyres, the Ferrari driver made his move.
However, after a thrilling wheel-banging lap, Max eventually pulled clear of the Ferrari. And with pace in hand passed Pierre, who was on older hard tyres.
The man most disadvantaged by the safety car was Bottas. Prior to the caution the Finn was beginning to exert some control in the lead, but having missed out on a ‘free’ stop Bottas soon found himself in P2 behind Hamilton and facing the prospect of a second pit stop late in the race.
On lap 36, Leclerc began to exert heavy pressure on Pierre and into Vale the Ferrari driver went around the outside of the Red Bull. Pierre tried to defend but he had to give way eventually and Leclerc moved ahead.
The reverse was happening further up the road, as Max attacked third-placed Vettel. The Dutchman bided his time and set up the move perfectly and powered past Vettel around the outside into Stowe. The result was calamitous.
Somehow both managed to keep going after the impact, with Max managing to rejoin in P5. Vettel though sank to the back of the order and then was forced to pit for a new front wing. His afternoon took a further somewhat irrelevant hit when the stewards quickly returned a verdict of guilty and Vettel was handed a 10-second time penalty.
Despite floor damage, Max was told that he could carry on without too much concern but with a gap to Pierre ahead there was little hope of another tilt at the podium positions.
As the race entered its last quarter the order now began to solidify. Bottas made his final stop, taking on soft tyres, but with plenty of time in hand the Finn held onto second place ahead of Leclerc.
And after 52 action-packed laps Hamilton crossed the line to take his 80th career grand prix victory and a record sixth British Grand Prix win ahead of Bottas and Leclerc. The Briton also managed to pick up the point for fastest lap on the final lap of the race.
Pierre kept pace with Leclerc over the closing laps but couldn’t draw close enough to challenge and he matched his career best finishing position with fourth place. Five seconds later Max nursed his ailing car across the line to take his tenth top-five finish of the season.
Sixth place in the race went to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard profiting from the safety car to rise from P13 on the grid. Behind him Daniel Ricciardo finished in P7 ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat and Renault's Nico Hülkenberg.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
4– Pierre matched his career-best finish of fourth place. The last time he finished in P4 was at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
10 – Top-five finishes for Max from 10 races this season.
British Grand Prix - Race Result Top 10:
1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Valtteri Bottas
3. Charles Leclerc
4. PIERRE GASLY
5. MAX VERSTAPPEN
6. Carlos Sainz
7. Daniel Ricciardo
8. Kimi Räikkönen
9. Daniil Kvyat
10. Nico Hülkenberg