Briton claims stunning win but Red Bull rages he was reckless
Lewis Hamilton delivered a remarkable comeback to win the British Grand Prix after he was accused of putting Max Verstappen’s life on the line when Formula One’s championship rivals crashed at 190mph.
Hamilton passed Charles Leclerc with only two-and-a-half laps remaining of a thrilling race after the Ferrari driver ran out of road on the exit of Copse in front of a 140,000 spectators on a sizzling afternoon at Silverstone where this season’s title battle boiled over.
Hamilton was hit with a 10-second penalty for a terrifying lap-one shunt which saw Verstappen’s afternoon end in the barriers and subsequently hospital.
But his stunning win – his eighth on home turf – moved him to within seven points of Verstappen on a remarkable afternoon. Hamilton jumped out of his Mercedes and leapt over a barrier before waving the Union Flag in front of the packed grandstands.
“It is massively overwhelming,” the seven-time world champion said. “It was such a physically difficult race with the best crowd. A home crowd is the best. It is a dream to do this in front of you all.”
Reflecting on his collision with Verstappen, he said: “I have been giving my all this week. I always try to be measured in battles with Max and he is aggressive.
“I was fully alongside him and he did not give me the space but regardless of whether I agree with the penalty I was not going to let anything get in the way of the national anthem and the British flag.”
The biggest flashpoint in recent seasons took place after just nine corners. Hamilton hustled pole-sitter Verstappen throughout the first lap. The Dutchman closed the door on his rival at the opening right-handed Abbey bend. But his defence through the ensuing corners put Hamilton on the front foot and the Mercedes man momentarily moved ahead of Verstappen at more than 200mph on the Wellington Straight, only to see Verstappen hold the position by retaining the racing line through Brooklands.
But Verstappen ran wide on the exit of Luffield, affording Hamilton a third opportunity for glory. Verstappen moved to the centre of the track before Hamilton drew alongside him and within centimetres of the wall on the old pit straight.
Verstappen was marginally ahead as they approached the right-handed Copse but as the Dutchman turned in for the corner, Hamilton’s left-front tagged the right-rear of his Red Bull.
The force of the impact sent Verstappen spiralling out of control, backwards through the gravel, and into the barriers to an audible groan of concern among the largest gathering at a sporting event in the UK since the pandemic started.
Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase was straight on the radio, asking: “Max are you OK?” For eight seconds there was nothing. Then suddenly, the sound of a man wincing in pain following an impact which registered at 51G.
Verstappen managed to haul himself out of his written-off Red Bull machine before standing hunched over and then led away to an ambulance. There was relief among the fans and a round of applause as he managed to offer a wave. The race was stopped and then the accusations began, chiefly from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
In a heated radio message to FIA race director Michael Masi, Horner said: “In that corner, he was never anywhere near alongside. Every driver that has driven this circuit knows that you do not stick a wheel on the inside of Copse. That is an enormous accident.
“And it was 100 per cent Max’s corner. As far as I am concerned, the full blame is on Hamilton who should never have been in that position. You could have had a massive accident. Thank God he walked away unscathed, so I hope you are going to deal with it appropriately.”
Verstappen tweeted: “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 behaviour but we move on.”