Lewis Hamilton overcame a controversial ten second time penalty to emerge victorious in a dramatic 2021 British Grand Prix thriller at Silverstone.
On the original race start, Hamilton was fended off by pole-sitter, Max Verstappen who proceeded to violently spin out at Copse to cause a 36 minute red flag as Charles Leclerc took the lead.
Leclerc thereafter held the lead on the restart and throughout the pit window as Hamilton was made to serve a 10s time penalty during his stop, as punishment after stewards adjudged him responsible for Verstappen’s crash.
Hamilton however found pace on his hard tyres as he reeled off McLaren’s Lando Norris then Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas before catching and passing Leclerc on lap 50 as the Monegasque ran wide at Copse.
Come the checkered flag, Hamilton clinched his eighth British GP victory ahead of Leclerc, Bottas and Norris as Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top ten.
In the driver standings, Hamilton reduced his 33 point title deficit to Verstappen down to just eight points with his win, whilst Norris moved up to third above Bottas and Sergio Perez who dropped to fifth after failing to score points.
On the initial start, Hamilton made an excellent getaway on used medium tyres compared to Verstappen on fresh mediums with the latter running wide through Abbey to defend his lead as Hamilton settled into the slipstream until they reached Wellington Straight.
Hamilton swept past into Brooklands but Verstappen braked late on the inside to defend his lead but Hamilton got the slipstream into Copse as he dived to the inside, with Verstappen cutting across only to violently spin into the outside barrier after striking Hamilton’s front left tyre.
Stewards consequently red flagged the race a lap later to allow for repairs to tyre barriers with the race getting underway 36 minutes later, with Leclerc in the lead heading to the standing restart after passing Hamilton who was nursing damage to his front left following contract.
During the stoppage, Red Bull and Mercedes argued their cases to the stewards in concern to Verstappen’s clash with Hamilton, prior to eventually settling on a 10s time penalty for Hamilton after deeming him at fault for not being ‘on a line that did not reach the apex’ in turn failing to avoid contact.
On the standing restart, Leclerc fended off Hamilton to retain the lead as Norris leapfrogged Bottas whilst Sebastian Vettel spun out of points contention on the exit of Luffield as he battled Alonso.
Perez found himself 19th on the restart after taking the original start from the pit lane but swiftly worked his way up to the cusp of the top ten, eventually breaking through to ninth after the opening round of stops.
Leclerc encountered cuts in his Ferrari power from lap 15 until he was told on lap 25 to avoid upshift when the power cuts, whilst fending off a resurgent Hamilton who stopped on lap 27 and served his 10s penalty, before he himself pitted on lap 30.
Norris meanwhile endured a slow stop after an issue with his right rear on lap 22 with Bottas consequently overcutting him a lap later, although the pair came out ahead of Hamilton after the latter made his stop as Leclerc briefly led Sainz in a Ferrari one-two.
Sainz however would like Norris endure a slow pit stop after Ferrari struggled with his front left wheel in hot temperatures, which left him sixth as Ricciardo fought him off throughout the remainder of the race.
Up front, Hamilton was unleashed by Norris on the inside of Copse on lap 31 whilst Perez opted for a second stop on lap 39, which failed to pay dividends as he tangled with Kimi Raikkonen at end of lap 46 to drop both down the order.
Hamilton meanwhile caught Bottas on lap 40 with Mercedes instructing both drivers to swap on lap 40 at Stowe, with the Brit proceeding to reel Leclerc in at around one second per lap as he eventually caught the Ferrari driver on lap 50.
Both drivers found themselves level entering Copse that same lap with Hamilton on the inside with Leclerc on the outside, only for the latter to run wide which let Hamilton through into the lead to clinch his eighth British GP victory in front of an elated Silverstone crowd.
Hamilton Put Verstappen at “huge risk”
Red Bull CEO and Team Principal, Christian Horner post-race commented on the controversial clash between Verstappen and Hamilton, saying: “I have reviewed the footage many times and still cannot help but feel that putting a wheel up the inside at Copse, one of the fastest corners in this World Championship, was ill-judged and a huge risk by Lewis to both drivers.
“He was not significantly alongside Max as you can see from the point of contact, Lewis’ front left to Max’s right rear. The move was never on and resulted in a 51G impact for Max.”
Verstappen himself meanwhile placed all blame on Hamilton in a furious tweet in which he described the Brit’s move as ‘dangerous’, plus criticised his celebrations as ‘disrespectful and unsportsmanlike’, tweeting:
Glad I’m ok. Very disappointed with being taken out like this. The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior but we move on pic.twitter.com/iCrgyYWYkm
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 18, 2021
Red Bull later released a statement confirming that Verstappen had been taken to Coventry Hospital for a thorough assessment, following initial checks at Silverstone Circuit Medical Centre but has been released ‘without any major injuries.’
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||52||1h 58m 23.283|
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||52||+ 3.871|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||52||+ 11.125|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||52||+ 28.573|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||52||+ 42.624|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||52||+ 43.454|
|7||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||52||+ 72.093|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||52||+ 74.289|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||52||+ 76.162|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||52||+ 82.065|
|11||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||52||+ 85.327|
|12||George Russell||Williams||52||+ 1 Lap|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||52||+ 1 Lap|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||52||+ 1 Lap|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||52||+ 1 Lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||52||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||52||+ 1 Lap|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||52||+ 1 Lap|
|RET||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||40||Technical|
|RET||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||0||Collision|