Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won a pulsating and controversial Formula 1 British Grand Prix, fighting back from a penalty for a first-lap tangle with Max Verstappen to take the lead from Charles Leclerc with two laps to go.
Starting first and second on the grid, the two title rivals immediately duelled for the lead before Hamilton’s left-front tyre snagged Verstappen’s right-rear as the two went through Copse corner, sending the Dutchman careening into the barriers at high speed and bringing out the red flag.
Emerging from his car unaided to sympathetic applause from many of the 140,000 fans in attendance, Verstappen was taken to hospital for precautionary checks on Sunday evening, reports Xinhua.
With the race restarted on lap 4, the stewards decreed that Hamilton had been at fault for the collision and slapped him with a 10-second time penalty, meaning the Briton emerged after his pit stop on lap 28 down in fourth position.
Undeterred, Hamilton soon made his way past McLaren’s Lando Norris and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to hunt down Leclerc, who had led every lap since the restart with his Ferrari showing well at the Silverstone Circuit.
Though Hamilton had complained earlier in the race of the difficulty in following in the dirty air of the Ferrari, the Briton soon gained on Leclerc and took the lead at Copse on lap 50 of 52 to take a record-extending eighth British Grand Prix win.
Hamilton’s win comes at a good time for the Briton and for Mercedes, after Red Bull had won the previous five Grands Prix and Verstappen had started to take control of the drivers’ championship.
“It was such a physically difficult race,” said Hamilton, whose win cuts Verstappen’s championship lead to eight points.
“Amazing effort from the team. I’ve been giving it my all, all week, back in the factory, trying to find performance. I always try to be very measured. Max, he’s very aggressive.
“Today I was fully alongside him and he didn’t give me any space. Regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I just kept working.”
Behind Hamilton and Leclerc, Bottas rounded out the top three ahead of Norris, who might have been higher had a slow pit stop not blunted his challenge.
Norris’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo took fifth ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who was another to suffer with a lengthy tyre change.
Fernando Alonso took a solid seventh in his Alpine, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon and the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top ten.
For the first time in F1 history, the grid order had not been set by a regular qualifying session, but by the results of a 17-lap “F1 Sprint” race on Saturday afternoon, Verstappen won to take an extra three championship points, with Hamilton taking two for finishing second and Bottas one point for third.
By contrast, Verstappen’s teammate Perez was the big loser from F1’s first ever sprint qualifying, as he spun off and emerged in a lowly 18th place. Red Bull thus elected to retire the Mexican and instead start him from the pitlane for Sunday’s race, but Perez was unable to make significant headway and finished outside the points in 16th.
Despite not scoring on Sunday, Verstappen still leads the drivers’ championship with 185 points. Hamilton stays second but closes the gap to 177, and Norris moves up to third with 113 points.
In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull stay top despite a poor weekend with 289 points, but Mercedes are now only just behind on 285, with McLaren third on 163 points.
The 11th round of the 2021 Formula 1 season is the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring on August 1.
The Formula 1 world has come together to condemn the racist abuse on social media against Lewis Hamilton after the British Grand Prix on July 18. The British driver won the race at Silverstone in a dramatic fashion which saw him send Max Verstappen crashing into the tyre wall at the ninth turn in the opening lap.
Formula One, the FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team released a joint statement on social media, addressing the “unacceptable instances of online abuse”.
“During, and after, yesterday’s British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision. Formula 1, The FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their action,” read the statement.
Other teams rallied around to express their support as well.
Red Bull, whose driver Verstappen crashed out of Sunday’s race, said in a release posted on Twitter, “While we may be fierce rivals on track, we are all united against racism. We condemn racist abuse of any kind towards our team, our competitors and our fans. As a team, we are disgusted and saddened to witness the racist abuse Lewis endured yesterday on social media after the collision with Max. There is never any excuse for it, there is certainly no place for it in our sport and those responsible should be held accountable.”
McLaren F1 team tweeted, “McLaren stands with Formula 1, the FIA, and our fellow teams and drivers in condemning the deplorable racist abuse towards Lewis Hamilton. Racism must be driven out of our sport, and it’s our shared responsibility to unite and eliminate it.”
2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button, currently a pundit with Sky Sports, was highly critical of the abuse against Hamilton. “Disgusted to hear the Racism and online abuse aimed at Lewis Hamilton after the British GP. #bekind,” read his tweet.
McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, who came fifth in the British Grand Prix, had his say on the abuse against Hamilton. “I’ve seen some of the remarks aimed at Lewis after yesterday. No matter what happens on track there is absolutely zero place for racism and hate. Please we have to be better than this,” said his Instagram story on Monday.
Hamilton is yet to comment on the abuse. The next F1 race is the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 1.