A first-lap crash very nearly wiped him out, and a 10-second pit stop penalty should have put him out of contention for the win, but Lewis Hamilton managed to recover from it all to take victory at the Formula One British Grand Prix.
The start of the British Grand Prix was a chaotic one. It appeared that Lewis Hamilton had a great start from second place, but Max Verstappen managed to push forward into the lead. Both drivers ran wheel-to-wheel through the first lap — and then the two drivers touched.
Until that point, both drivers had been very heated and were racing hard for the lead. Hamilton ducked to the inside of Verstappen where he likely shouldn’t have, and Verstappen had moved and defended multiple times leading up to the point of collision. It appeared to be something of a game of chicken, with both drivers expecting the other one to flinch. Neither did. And they both made contact.
Massive disappointment for @Max33Verstappen
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2021
Verstappen got the worst of the accident; he lost control and was pushed through the gravel and into the tire barrier, which completely shattered his Red Bull. Hamilton was able to recover with front wing damage, but he lost a place to Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.
To clean up the damage, stewards threw a red flag. Verstappen emerged from the crash looking shaken but able to walk on his own. He was transported to the hospital to undergo routine checkups, since his crash registered over 50 gs.
In the meantime, both Mercedes and Red Bull were going back and forth with the FIA race stewards hoping to assign blame.
It took about 40 minutes for the accident to be cleaned up, but it was set to be a standing start. Leclerc maintained his lead on Hamilton, followed by a battle between Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris, the latter of whom triumphed for third place.
Sebastian Vettel spun into the old pit lane, though he managed to get started and get back on track. After the racing started, Hamilton was awarded a 10-second time penalty for the incident with Verstappen, which he’d have to serve during his next pit stop.
By lap 15, Leclerc was suffering power unit problems that saw him lose power and then regain it. The gap between himself and Hamilton drastically shrunk. By lap 17, the gap had shrunk to under half a second while Hamilton continued to set the fastest laps of the race.
Pit stops started on lap 22, with Lando Norris’s McLaren suffering from an unfortunately long stop. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had a great stop, putting him in contention for the win, considering Hamilton’s long pit stop. Hamilton entered on lap 28, served his 10-second penalty, and reentered the track in fifth place.
Leclerc pitted on lap 30 and thankfully had a solid stop; his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. had pitted one lap earlier and had a long stop as the result of a malfunctioning tire gun. He reemerged in the lead.
By lap 31, Hamilton had passed Norris in a quick, clean manoeuvre, moving himself into a podium position despite his penalty. On lap 40, with Hamilton approaching, Bottas was advised not to fight with his teammate. The following lap, Vettel was asked to retire his car; it had never quite recovered since his spin.
With 10 laps to go, Hamilton was just under seven seconds behind leader Charles Leclerc, and he was set to catch the Ferrari driver before the end.
On lap 50, with just two laps remaining, Hamilton passed Leclerc’s Ferrari in front of his home crowd — very nearly getting involved in another collision. This time, though, Leclerc ran wide.
Hamilton took his eighth win at the British Grand Prix and succeeded in shrinking the championship gap between himself and Verstappen to a mere seven points.
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)