Lewis Hamilton returned to winning ways at the British GP, taking out Max Verstappen, handed a penalty for that, and then racing his way to the win.
Starting first and second on the Silverstone grid, Verstappen and Hamilton tangled through Copse, the Red Bull driver sent hurtling off the circuit at high speed.
While Verstappen went to hospital for checks, the Dutchman said to be feeling dizzy, Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty for the crash.
That, though, did nothing to stop him from taking an eighth British Grand Prix win.
P4 after his penalty, he went on a charge, taking the lead off Charles Leclerc on lap 50 to win the British Grand Prix in front of his home crowd.
Leclerc was second, his first podium of the season, with Valtteri Bottas third.
— Sir Lewis Hamilton Updates (@SirLewisUpdates) July 18, 2021
Following Saturday evening’s this-is-not-a-race sprint qualifying, Max Verstappen booked pole position, lining up on the grid ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
But with Sergio Perez starting from the pit lane – Red Bull put a new spec rear wing on his RB16B after his Saturday evening DNF – Mercedes went into the 52-lap British Grand Prix keen to play the strategy game against Verstappen.
They didn’t have to, Verstappen out on the opening lap.
Unlike on Saturday it was Hamilton who made the best start, challenging Verstappen as both drivers held their nerves to race wheel-to-wheel, twice making minor contact.
As it appeared that Hamilton may have found a gap up the inside, the two made contact, Hamilton’s front left into Verstappen’s rear right, Verstappen flying off the circuit at Copse.
It was a huge crash – 51Gs according to Christian Horner – for the Red Bull driver who was helped from his car, visibly winded. Hamilton’s W12 suffered damage, the race red-flagged by the stewards.
The stewards announced an investigation with Red Bull quick to blame Hamilton, telling FIA race director that Hamilton was “never anyway alongside” Verstappen and that it was “100% Verstappen’s corner. Mercedes also got on the radio, saying Hamilton was “significantly alongside at Turn 9”.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2021
More than 30 minutes later the race was restarted with standing start, Charles Leclerc on pole position ahead of Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris. The Ferrari driver made a great start to lead while Norris took third off Bottas and further back Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso raced side-by-side, Vettel spinning at the exit of Luffield and falling down to P19. Perez went on a storm, up to P13.
The stewards announced a 10-second penalty for Hamilton for causing a collision, a penalty he would be allowed to take during a later pit stop. Hamilton did not react when Mercedes informed him: “Understood Bono.”
Leclerc was leading by almost two seconds on lap 15 when he reported that his engine was cutting out, the Mercedes driver slashing his advantage. Ferrari told Monégasque driver make some adjustments but “again, again” was Leclerc’s pained cry. He was told to make another adjustment, also informed that Hamilton’s tyres were beginning to blister. That did the trick, the driver pulling out of DRS range.
The pit stops began on lap 19, Kimi Raikkonen, Perez, George Russell and Vettel the first to stop. Daniel Ricciardo was the first of the top ten to stop, lap 21 for the McLaren driver, his team-mate in the next lap but it was a long six-second stop for Lando Norris, his right rear an issue. That cost Norris with Bottas leapfrogging him as he came out after his stop. Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz also had slow stops.
Norris pits from P3, but it's a slow stop – 6 seconds
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2021
Leading by two seconds, and yet to pit along with Hamilton, Leclerc was told “do not upshift”, a problem for the Ferrari driver. That was his only issue, though, the driver telling Ferrari he wasn’t not feeling “any drop off” on his Pirellis. Hamilton – “front left is dead man” – stopped on lap 28. It was a long stop as he took his 10-second penalty, stationary for 14.2s all in all. He came out behind Norris.
Leclerc stopped a lap later, no issues with his stop. He came out seven seconds ahead of Bottas with Norris third ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Sainz, Lance Stroll and Alonso. Make that Hamilton third and Norris fourth as the Mercedes driver easily took the position off the McLaren, up the inside at Copse. The Brit was 12s behind Leclerc.
Bottas wasn’t able to make a dent on Leclerc and, with 15 to go, told Mercedes he doubted he’d be able to make it to the end. Hamilton was still three seconds behind his team-mate but closing. “Team order,” Bottas was told, “don’t fight with Lewis.” Lap 41 and Hamilton was P2.
Further back Pierre Gasly, holding onto the final points-paying position, was 1.1s ahead of Esteban Ocon. Vettel’s race ended on lap 42, Aston Martin letting him know there is a “problem, we are going to retire the car.” He pulled into the pits, game over.
— Sebastian Vettel #5 (@sebvettelnews) July 18, 2021
Told of Hamilton passing Bottas, Ferrari said Leclerc could “push to the end”, but already his advantage to Hamilton was down on six seconds. Lap after lap Hamilton closed in on the Ferrari until, at Copse of course, he passed for the lead. The Mercedes driver racing to his eighth British GP win with Leclerc second. Bottas joined them on the podium.
Norris was third ahead of his McLaren team-mate, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 4.517s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 11.125s
4 Lando Norris McLaren 28.573s
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 42.624s
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 43.454s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 72.093s
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 74.289s
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine 76.162s
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 82.065s
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 85.327s
12 George Russell Williams 90.245s
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1 LAP
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1 LAP
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1 LAP
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1 LAP
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1 LAP
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 1 LAP
Did not finish
Vettel Aston Martin
Verstappen Red Bull