Hamilton storms back into title hunt

Pole-sitter Verstappen out in first lap after contact with Briton; c'ship lead down to 8pts

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who started second on the grid, giving chase to Red Bull's Max Verstappen, before the Dutchman hit the front tyre of the Mercedes and crashed out of the race.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who started second on the grid, giving chase to Red Bull's Max Verstappen, before the Dutchman hit the front tyre of the Mercedes and crashed out of the race.PHOTO: REUTERS

SILVERSTONE • Lewis Hamilton revived his Formula One title defence by winning the British Grand Prix for the eighth time yesterday despite a 10-second penalty after he collided with Max Verstappen, knocking the championship leader out of the race.

Roared on by a crowd of more than 140,000, Hamilton, who started second on the grid, attacked the Dutchman from the start and made several attempts to overtake and tried to cut inside on Copse corner. As Verstappen turned he hit the front tyre of the Mercedes and his car flew across the gravel and into the barriers.

The race was suspended with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the lead as crews worked to remove Verstappen's Red Bull and the stewards reviewed the incident.

Despite adding 10 seconds to a pit stop, Hamilton eventually caught Leclerc and overtook at the same Copse segment on lap 50 of the 52-lap race.

Verstappen, who appeared unhurt and stood unaided after getting out of the car following the accident, was taken to hospital "for further precautionary tests", said Red Bull.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was thrilled with the win and the 25 points, which means Verstappen's title lead, which was at 33 points at the start of the day, is now down to eight ahead of race 11 in Hungary in two weeks.

"Lewis we never give up! We never give up! This is still on," Wolff yelled over the team radio.

"Damn right Toto. Damn right," came the reply from his Silver Arrows driver. "I want to say a big thanks to all the fans here. I couldn't do it without you guys."

Addressing the crowd after the race, Hamilton said: "This is a dream for me today, to do it in front of you all.

"I always try to be measured in how I approach, particularly with battling with Max, he's very aggressive. Today I was fully alongside him and he didn't leave space.

"Regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I take it on the chin and I just kept working.

  • BRITISH GRAND PRIX

    RESULTS

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 58min 23.284sec

    2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari +3.871sec

    3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +11.125

    4 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren +28.573

    5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren +42.624

    6 Carlos Sainz (Esp) Ferrari +43.454

    7 Fernando Alonso (Esp) Alpine +72.093

    8 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin +74.289

    9 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine +76.162

    10 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri +82.065

    SELECTED

    16 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull +1 lap

    DRIVERS' STANDINGS

    1 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 185pts 2 Hamilton 177 3 Norris 113

    CONSTRUCTORS' STANDINGS

    1 Red Bull 289pts

    2 Mercedes 285

    3 McLaren 163

"I was like 'I'm not going to let anything get in the way of the crowd's enjoyment of the weekend and the national anthem and the British flag'."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was visibly agitated at the incident. "He's put a competitor in hospital. For me, that's a hollow victory," he fumed.

"That was a really nasty accident. It's like a professional foul."

He and Wolff had both earlier visited the officials' room in the pit lane to debate the collision.

Mercedes' stance was that Hamilton was "significantly alongside on the inside of turn 9" and that he was not to blame. Horner argued the opposite in a radio call with race director Michael Massey.

"That corner, he was never anywhere near alongside," he said.

"Every driver that's driven this circuit knows you do not stick a wheel up the inside at Copse. That's an enormous accident and it was 100 per cent Max's corner. Full blame lays on Hamilton who should never have been in that position."

"Thank god he's walked away unscathed."

After finishing second in Saturday's qualifying sprint, Hamilton had repeated his complaint that the Red Bull cars were faster.

"It was pretty much the same as the last races - you had to follow Max," he said, a sentiment which explained his desperate attempt to grab the lead at the start.

Hamilton was involved in another infamous first-lap crash when he collided with then-teammate Nico Rosberg in Barcelona in 2016, wiping out both cars. Rosberg went on to win the title.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2021, with the headline 'Hamilton storms back into title hunt'. Subscribe