The Briton received a 10-second penalty for the opening lap scrap but went on to overtake Charles Leclerc for the victory at the end of the race
By Yuri Coghe
Lewis Hamilton collided with championship rival Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the 2021 British Grand Prix on Sunday, but went on to win the race despite receiving a 10-second penalty for the early scrap.
The Briton collected an eighth home victory in Silverstone and a 99th career win after overtaking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for first place with two laps to go. The victory allowed Hamilton to trim Verstappen’s championship lead from 33 to eight points.
Verstappen had a 51G high-speed impact crash at the Copse Corner after he and Hamilton touched amid a fierce fight for the lead in the first few turns. The Red Bull driver got out of the car visibly affected by the accident but still managed to wave for the crowd. He was taken to a local hospital for further tests after being accessed by trackside doctors at Silverstone Circuit Medical Centre.
The Red Bull driver started the race on pole position after winning F1’s first-ever sprint racing qualifying Saturday, in a new weekend format that’s being introduced and tested in Silverstone and two other races this season. Verstappen’s crash triggered a red flag, with the race returning with a standing restart more than 20 minutes later.
“When someone’s too aggressive, these things are bound to happen,” said Hamilton after the race. “There’s not really much more for me to say. I hope he’s OK because of course, I would love to have a wheel-to-wheel battle for the whole race, I enjoy racing with him and I’m looking forward (to doing it again) but I will never back down from anyone and I will not be bullied into being less aggressive.”
Verstappen had strong words about the accident on Instagram, labelling Hamilton’s celebration after the race “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike.”
“Obviously very disappointed with being taken out like this,” posted the Dutchman. “The penalty given does not help us in any way and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track.”
Verstappen was discharged from the hospital in the afternoon.
Hamilton wins at home for the eighth time
Hamilton dropped from second to fifth when pitting and serving his 10-second penalty on Lap 27. Five laps later, he overtook Lando Norris for third. He had previously got past Carlos Sainz Jr. for fourth as the Ferrari driver had a slow stop on Lap 29.
Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez, who only finished sixteenth, claimed the fastest lap of the race to deny the honour and the extra point to its previous holder, Hamilton. The extra point awarded for it did not end up with the Mexican either, however, since he finished outside the top 10.
The Mercedes double podium in a zero points race for Red Bull saw the Austrian team’s constructors’ championship lead trimmed from 44 to only four points.
Hamilton also has eight wins in the upcoming Hungarian GP, an all-time record for victories in the same Grand Prix. The stat is shared with the legendary Michael Schumacher, who won eight times at the French GP.
The Briton will have the chance to add a record ninth victory in Budapest and a historic 100th career win as F1 heads to Hungary for the July 30-Aug. 1 weekend.
Leclerc, who faced engine issues during the race, finished second after starting fourth to repeat Ferrari’s season-high result, which was also achieved by Sainz, in Monaco. Having overtaken Valtteri Bottas for third at the start, Leclerc also got past Hamilton right after the Briton collided with Verstappen. He proceeded to lead every lap of the race until the defending champion got the best of him on Lap 50 of 52.
“It’s difficult to enjoy 100%,” said Leclerc. “I gave all of me but it was not enough in the last two laps. Congrats to Lewis, he did an amazing job. The team is working incredibly well. I’m incredibly proud of them.”
Bottas, who got his sixth podium in ten races this season by finishing third, allowed Hamilton through on Lap 41 so the Briton didn’t waste time in his pursuit of Leclerc. But the Finn wasn’t able to challenge the Ferrari driver himself, finishing 17.448 seconds behind the Monegasque.
“My weakest part today was the start. I was wheel-spinning a bit and that made things harder,” reflected Bottas in the post-race interview. “But we leave this weekend with a lot of positives for the team going forward. We go again in two weeks.”
The McLaren duo of Norris and Daniel Ricciardo capped off the top 5 in that order, collecting 18 points for the British outfit. Norris dropped from third to sixth after a slow pitstop on Lap 21 that prevented him from fighting for a first career home podium. Sainz finished sixth to help Ferrari leave Silverstone with 26 points in the bag – the most the Italian team have earned in a single race weekend this year.
Canadian Lance Stroll finished eighth, splitting the Alpines of Fernando Alonso, seventh, and Esteban Ocon, ninth. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, Stroll’s Aston Martin teammate, had to retire on Lap 41 due to car issues.
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Rookie Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10, adding one point to his and AlphaTauri’s total after starting the race in P16. His teammate Pierre Gasly followed in eleventh and just shy of the points.
The British GP didn’t become the weekend in which George Russell got his first points-finish as a Williams driver after all. The Briton finished twelfth, three places behind his starting position and two ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi.
Kimi Raikkonen, who collided with Peréz when defending for P11 late in the race, finished P15. His Aston Martin teammate Antonio Giovinazzi finished 13th in his 50th Formula 1 Grand Prix start. Hass drivers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher completed the race in the 17th and 18th positions, respectively.
The British Grand Prix weekend registered a total attendance of 356,000 fans, counting Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
See the full 2021 British Grand Prix results below: