Max Verstappen

F1 Max Verstappen surprise
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Max Verstappen storms to unlikely F1 victory over Lewis Hamilton

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SILVERSTONE, England — Max Verstappen sprung the surprise of the F1 season Sunday by beating Lewis Hamilton to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, his ninth career victory in Formula One.

The Red Bull Racing driver crossed the line at Silverstone 11.3 seconds clear of Hamilton, with pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas third. The Mercedes duo of Bottas and Hamilton had qualified 1-2, and the team had been expected to cruise to its fifth consecutive victory to open the 2020 season.

But Hamilton and Bottas struggled with managing their tire wear, clearing the way for Verstappen to take an unlikely win.

Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Alexander Albon. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was sixth.

Hamilton will head to next week’s Spanish Grand Prix with a 30-point championship lead over Verstappen.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team has been the class act of the field this year and, after Bottas beat Hamilton to the first corner, it looked as though it would be a straight fight between the all-black cars for victory.

But Verstappen, who started fourth and moved ahead of Racing Point’s Nico Hulkenberg at the opening bend, remained hot on their heels. Both Mercedes cars started on the medium tires, with Verstappen on the more durable hard tire.

Verstappen sensed that the Mercedes cars were struggling and was soon hunting down Hamilton. At one stage, he was told to drop off Hamilton’s gearbox to protect his tires.

“This is the only chance to beat Mercedes,” he said over the radio. “I am not going to sit back like a grandma.”

And he remained aggressive. Bottas pitted from the lead on lap 13 with Hamilton following in for fresh tires on the following lap. Verstappen took the lead and, when he came in for new tires at the midway stage of the race, he left the pits just behind Bottas.

Verstappen took only a handful of corners to regain top spot after he resisted Bottas’ tame defense.

Verstappen and Bottas came in with 20 laps remaining for a second time, and Hamilton remained out on wearing tires until Lap 41 of 52.

Hamilton emerged in fourth, but the 35-year-old showed good pace on the fresh tires, posting the fastest lap of the race before overtaking Leclerc at Stowe for third. With two laps left, he passed his teammate Bottas for second around the outside of Brooklands. The six-time series champion tied Michael Schumacher’s record with his 155th career podium.

After Verstappen cruised to victory, Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, while Sebastian Vettel was outside the points in 12th following an opening-lap spin.