Only one victory separates Sir Lewis Hamilton from reaching a major milestone in his Formula One racing career after the reigning seven-time champion snapped a five-race winless drought to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit on Sunday, July 18.
The victory was Hamilton’s fourth of the 2021 F1 season, an all-time eighth victory at Silverstone and the 99th of his career, the most victories all-time in Formula One history.
Hamilton’s victory, however, did not come without controversy following a first-lap collision between himself and title rival Max Verstappen in the first corner, where contact between the two sent Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing machine spinning and making hard contact against the infield tire barriers, knocking him out of the race and costing the Dutchman a bevy of points in the championship standings. Though he climbed out of his battered car, Verstappen, who retired in 20th place, was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Following the incident, Hamilton was given a 10-second penalty, which he served on Lap 28 of 52 while pitting. Falling back to fifth, the Stevenage, England, native, who is a hometown hero at Silverstone, was able to methodically work his way back to the podium spots and overtake Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on Lap 50 to return to the lead. From there, Hamilton pulled away and was able to claim the checkered flag by nearly four seconds over Leclerc.
With the turn of events and the collision between the two championship contenders, Hamilton, who started the event trailing Verstappen by 33 points, is behind by eight points as he continues his pursuit for an record-setting eighth F1 title.
“I thought I was gonna have a heart attack, to be honest,” Hamilton, who shared the victory with his home crowd, said. “When I got out of the car, it was very emotional. The whole parade lap with the British flag, really proud moment for me. And the emotions just build up more and more as you come around to the end. And then, you just wanna go and hug everyone…What a beautiful day, what a blessing it is…Hopefully, [the win] brought some joy for England.”
While addressing the incident with Verstappen, Hamilton withstood his ground and his focus to battle Verstappen and Red Bull Racing to the end for the title.
“I’m open to [a conversation with Verstappen],” Hamilton said. “I don’t have any issues. I don’t know what really to say. Just game on. We’re just gonna keep on attacking. There needs to be respect on the track and if not, then this [incident] will happen more often. I’ve tried my hardest to stay as clean as possible.
Verstappen was not available for comment, but Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing’s team principal, expressed his frustration towards Hamilton over the incident.
“It’s disappointing for a driver that’s won seven world championships to make a desperate error like that,” Horner said. “We’re just lucky today that it didn’t have a worse consequence. I don’t think that Lewis can take any real satisfaction out of that victory today because it was unacceptable what he did to Max.”
Behind Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, who led a race-high 49 of 52 laps compared to Hamilton’s three and who dealt with engine issues throughout the event, settled in the runner-up spot for his first podium result of the 2021 season and his first since last year’s British Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, came home in third place for his sixth podium result of this season.
“I don’t really know how I feel,” Leclerc said. “I’ve got 50 percent of me that is super happy, 50 percent of me that is extremely disappointed to lose the win so close to the end. If you look at the overall picture, coming to the weekend, we did not expect to be fighting for a win. I thought it was over in the first stint when he had those engine cuts…I gave 200 percent of me, and it was very, very close.”
“We can take positives,” Bottas said. “I think, today, we worked well as a team. We got really good points, especially against Red Bull. So that is good.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris, who had a slow pit stop on Lap 22, and Daniel Ricciardo finished in fourth and fifth followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Fernando Alonso recorded a strong seventh-place result followed by Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and rookie Yuki Tsunoda.
Pierre Gasly settled in 11th, the first competitor outside of the top-10 points-scoring positions, followed by George Williams. Antonio Giovinazzi came home in 13th followed by Nicholas Latifi and Kimi Räikkönen.
Sergio “Checo” Perez, who started at the rear of the field and made a late pit stop for soft tyres, ended up in 16th followed by Haas drivers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. Sebastian Vettel, who spun early, retired in 19th place.
1. Lewis Hamilton, 27 points
2. Charles Leclerc, 18 points
3. Valtteri Bottas, 16 points
4. Lando Norris, 12 points
5. Daniel Ricciardo, 10 points
6. Carlos Sainz, eight points
7. Fernando Alonso, six points
8. Lance Stroll, four points
9. Esteban Ocon, two points
10. Yuki Tsunoda, one point
11. Pierre Gasly
12. George Russell, +1 lap
13. Antonio Giovinazzi, +1 lap
14. Nicholas Latifi, +1 lap
15. Kimi Räikkönen, +1 lap
16. Sergio Perez, +1 lap, one point
17. Nikita Mazepin, +1 lap
18. Mick Schumacher, +1 lap
19. Sebastian Vettel, Retired
20. Max Verstappen, Retired, three points
Despite his early incident and exit from the event, Verstappen continues to lead the drivers’ standings by eight points over Hamilton. In addition, Red Bull Racing continues to lead the constructors’ standings by four points over the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Next on the 2021 Formula One schedule is Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, August 1.