One Moment at F1 British GP Changed Everything for Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton scorched to a sensational Formula 1 victory on home soil at Silverstone Circuit in England, but only after his title rival Max Verstappen was left in hospital after contact between the two drivers’ cars on the opening lap of the F1 British Grand Prix.

Verstappen arrived at Hamilton’s home ground off the back of three emphatic victories while a win in Formula 1’s inaugural Sprint gave the Dutchman a 33-point advantage.

Previously, Verstappen and Hamilton have had several wheel-to-wheel battles in an exhilarating 2021 season, exchanging positions in Bahrain, Italy, Portugal and Spain without coming to strife, as both kept it clean in the heat of the moment.

That was not the case on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in front of Hamilton’s home supporters.

The moment of impact between Hamilton and Verstappen 👀#BritishGP 🇬🇧 #F1

Verstappen retained his pole advantage into the fast right-hander at Turn 1, but he and Hamilton almost collided on exit, as the Briton sought a way through. The duo ran side-by-side along the Wellington Straight, with Verstappen staying ahead into Brooklands with a stern defense.

Verstappen exited Luffield ahead but Hamilton got in the slipstream and ducked to the inside into Copse corner, usually flat-out for Formula 1 cars in qualifying trim. As Verstappen turned in he found Hamilton in his way and the pair collided. Hamilton continued, but Verstappen was pitched heavily into the outside barriers, suffering a 51g impact, from which he walked away gingerly before a trip to the medical center. Doctors deemed it necessary for Verstappen to head to a local hospital for precautionary checks.

Verstappen’s RB16B car was wrecked in the impact and that will have implications for Red Bull given the belt-tightening caused by the budget cap.

Senior Red Bull figures were irate in the immediate aftermath, with team principal Christian Horner believing his driver was fortunate to escape without serious injury.

“It’s very clear,” said an angry Horner. “Lewis has stuck a wheel up the inside, he’s driven this circuit for years. You know you don’t do that here.”

“I’m feeling really cross about it,” added Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley. “That corner there is not a place you stick a wheel up the inside of a car.”

Red Bull’s Motorsport Advisor, the outspoken consultant Helmut Marko, went so far as to tell German media that Hamilton warranted a race suspension.

Copse is indeed one of Formula 1’s fastest corners, but drivers have previously run wheel-to-wheel into the turn. This was a case of two titans of the sport refusing to yield at a critical point of their title battle. Stewards nonetheless pinned the blame on Hamilton, issuing a 10-second time penalty, outlining that his car was not fully alongside Verstappen’s approaching the impact.

Their clash caused a red flag and at the restart Hamilton retained second, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had profited from the collision to seize the lead. Hamilton served his 10-second penalty at his sole pit stop, relinquishing positions to Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris, and began a charge that was willed on by Silverstone’s crowd. Hamilton overhauled Norris, was waved through by teammate Bottas, before brilliantly reeling in and passing Leclerc on lap 50 of 52. Ironically that move came at the same Copse corner where he had clashed with Verstappen.

Hamilton’s win, along with Verstappen’s exit, means now only eight points split the pair after 10 races. Verstappen has won five races, Hamilton four.

Hamilton was unrepentant in the aftermath of his 99th career victory.

“We’re in a battle, and I think this year he has been very aggressive and most times I’ve had to concede and avoid incident with him and live to fight on later in the race,” Hamilton said. “Once he’s out in the clear they’re too fast, so when an opportunity comes I’ve got to take it, that’s what we’re out here doing racing. I got a great exit out of Turn 7 and … I could go to the left, then the inside and get up that gap. Fortunately he wasn’t able to close it, and unfortunately the aggression stays from his side and we collided.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s a racing incident, these things happen.”

On whether he had anything for which to say sorry Hamilton said, “I don’t think I’m in the position to have to apologize for anything. We’re out there racing. None of us ever want any of us to ever get injured, that’s never my intention, so I really hope he’s okay. I’ll hit him up after this just to check he’s okay, and we live to fight another day.”

Verstappen did not address the media post-race but took to his social media channels to leave observers in no doubt as to his thoughts.

“Glad I’m OK,” he wrote. “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.”

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

Verstappen added that the celebrations were “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike,” given he was in hospital, though at that stage Hamilton was not aware of the situation.

Horner redoubled his criticism of Hamilton after the race, suggesting his victory would feel hollow—a comment Hamilton rejected—and that the actions were not becoming of a seven-time champion.

“He’s carried too much speed,” said Horner. “That move was never on. Lewis is a world champion of seven titles. That was an amateur’s mistake and a desperate mistake. I can’t see how Lewis can take any satisfaction from a win when he’s put his fellow driver in hospital. It’s disappointing, it’s extremely annoying. His actions have put in jeopardy another driver’s safety and for me that’s unacceptable.”

Formula 1’s title battle this year has been one of the most engrossing in a generation, with Verstappen and Red Bull trying to halt the Hamilton/Mercedes juggernaut.

Sunday’s shunt lit the touchpaper in some style.

F1 British Grand Prix Results

Updated Driver Standings

Team Standings

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