IT FINALLY HAPPENED! We all knew that it was going to happen sometime this season and it did. At the 2021 British GP, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton finally had a proper collision. It was a shocking moment that completely turned the race around. Forget the race, it turned the entire world championship around. A small bit of contact at Copse corner, and Verstappen was hurtling into the barrier. The contact with Hamilton was relatively small. But it was at such high speed that Verstappen hit the barrier and had to sustain a 51 G’s of force as he hit the barrier. The impact was so massive that the tire barrier had to be replaced. More importantly, Verstappen was taken to the on-site medical centre at Silverstone. Verstappen was transferred to a hospital after the check-up in the medical centre but was then discharged on Sunday night.
We’ve seen how strong Max Verstappen is in wheel-to-wheel combat. He beat Hamilton every single time they battled on track this year. We also saw in the Sprint Race that Verstappen easily pulled a gap to Hamilton. So if Lewis didn’t get past that Red Bull on the first lap, Verstappen could’ve secured the win. But this time, Hamilton was having none of it, and he beat Verstappen in the side-by-side battle. It’s a shame that he had to make contact with Verstappen and pretty much crash him out of the race. That showed quite a lot of desperation from Hamilton and Mercedes. Up until the British GP, and even in the sprint race for the British GP, we saw that Red Bull was faster than Mercedes. I feel like talking more about this incident right now, but I’m going to save the analysis for later in the post.
The race was stopped and was under Red Flag conditions since the tire barrier needed replacement after Verstappen’s crash. After around 40 minutes of waiting, the race restarted, with Charles Leclerc in the lead. Leclerc took the lead of the race when Hamilton and Verstappen made contact. Some space opened up, and Leclerc took the lead just in time for the Red Flag. At the Red Flag restart, Sebastian Vettel had another one of his unfortunate spins. He was battling with Fernando Alonso for P7. But then, at the exit of the Luffield corner, Vettel got too trigger happy on the throttle. He fell down the order to pretty much last place. Vettel eventually retired from the race on Lap 40 after a cooling issue.
The 2020 British GP was quite a memorable race, but that was mainly because it had late action. However, the 2021 British GP had early action, a fair amount of excitement in the middle, and A LOT of late action. As a race, it was very memorable, and its results have had big implications in the championship battle. As a spectator and as a blogger writing about this race, I loved every aspect of this race. The drama, the controversy, and the clash between Hamilton and Verstappen’s fanbases was incredible to see.
Some of the other highlights from this race were the incredible pace from both Ferrari and McLaren. Due to Ferrari struggling at the French GP, McLaren still have a 15-point advantage on Ferrari. For those of you who aren’t completely up-to-date with the championship battles, McLaren and Ferrari have been battling for 3rd in the constructors’ championship. This battle has been going on since the beginning of the season, with both teams facing ups and downs. But at the 2021 British GP, both teams had a great race. Charles Leclerc nearly grabbed that win for Ferrari. Carlos Sainz tried to get the other Ferrari in the Top 5, but was denied by the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
I was definitely hoping that Leclerc would take the win. It’s a shame that he lost out on taking the win just because of an engine problem that was completely out of his control. I think that Leclerc and Ferrari have made huge steps since last year and that they both deserved to get their first race win since 2019. For McLaren, And on top of that, Lando Norris’s horrible pitstop cost him a podium in his home race. Both teams had excellent performances, but could’ve done a little bit better to gain more points and be in a more secure position in the championship.
There was there was the disappointment of George Russell getting a horrible start and not scoring points. The Williams driver is clearly out-performing his car, but he just isn’t able to stay in the Top 10. He did finish in the Top 10 in the Sprint race, but there were points for only the Top 3 in that race. Russell had an incident in the Sprint race which earned him a 3-place grid penalty. That’s why he started the race in 12th. And from 12th, he dropped to 14th, but went back up to 12th after Vettel and Verstappen retired. Russell just keeps getting so excruciatingly close to scoring points. The 2021 British GP was a very exciting race, and a race to remember. So without further ado, let’s get into the 2021 British GP race review!
Hamilton and Verstappen’s Controversial Collision: What Exactly Happened and Who Was At Fault
So this is what we’ve all been waiting for; my opinion on who was at fault for the Lap 1 incident at the 2021 British GP. So for those of you who didn’t watch the race, Verstappen started the race on pole position after winning the Sprint race. Hamilton learned his lesson from the sprint race and knew that he HAD to get past Verstappen on Lap 1 for any chance of winning the race. Verstappen didn’t get the best start, and Hamilton pounced and tried to make a move into Turn 1. Verstappen managed to keep the lead by sweeping around the outside of Hamilton. Hamilton tried to go for a move around the outside of Village and The Loop but managed to get an excellent exit out of the Aintree corner.
Down the Wellington Straight, Hamilton used the slipstream and actually got ahead of Verstappen down into Brooklands. Verstappen nailed his braking and used the inside line to take the lead back from Hamilton. Into the Luffield corner, Verstappen secured the position. But through the Luffield corner, Hamilton nailed his racing line and achieved a great run through the Woodcote corner. He once again used the slipstream down the Old Pit Straight. Down into Copse, Lewis chose his line wisely. Instead of sticking to the outside line, he switched to the inside line. He knew that the outside line wouldn’t work out for him, since he went for the outside line in the sprint race, and couldn’t grab the lead. But in the actual Grand Prix, into the Copse corner, an exciting battle for the lead turned into a shocking crash.
Copse corner is a high-speed, dangerous corner; drivers are racing at over 300 km/h when entering the corner. While Verstappen and Hamilton were turning into the Copse corner, Hamilton’s front-left tire hit Verstappen’s rear-right tire. The tire immediately came off of Verstappen’s car as the Red Bull skipped across the gravel trap before slamming into the tire barrier. As I mentioned earlier, Verstappen faced a massive 51G impact. That’s like 3.6 tonnes of mass pushing Verstappen’s body into a tire barrier. To be honest, coming into the 2021 British GP, we expected action, but not this kind of action. The crash and the severity of the impact is quite unbelievable.
The fact that Verstappen walked away from that unscathed is a testament to the safety in Formula 1. The car protected Verstappen’s body enough so that he could walk away from the crash with no major injuries. Verstappen was initially ” a little disoriented” and “not so stable on his feet”, as described by FIA F1 Medical Rescue Coordinator Ian Roberts. So obviously an impact like that would still have at least some effect on the human body. But Max was soon able to walk and was feeling better.
The stewards at the 2021 British GP had a tough decision to make, and they had to make it fast. Mercedes and Red Bull team members were constantly fighting their case to Michael Masi (The Race Director), which doesn’t make much sense, cause he doesn’t hand out any penalties. That’s what the stewards’ job is, and it shows that the stewards have one of the toughest jobs in F1. I definitely think they need to be given more credit, because most of the time, their decisions are spot on. This brings me to my points. I think the stewards nailed their penalty decision. Lewis Hamilton received a 10-second time penalty. That’s the 2nd-most lenient penalty, but I think it’s fitting. This incident was a Lap 1 incident; the race has just started, the tires are cold, and the stewards are applying the ‘let them race’ principle.
That’s why the penalty might be a little more lenient than it would’ve been if the incident happened in the middle of the race. However, Lap 1 incidents are being penalised more seriously this year after feedback from the drivers and teams to the FIA. The next penalty after a 10-second penalty is a drive-through penalty. This is when the driver comes through the pitlane, but without stopping in the pit box. A drive-through penalty would be too harsh and not fitting for an incident in which Hamilton was “predominantly to blame” for the crash, and not “wholly to blame”. Max Verstappen could’ve avoided the incident as well, but Hamilton had a bigger role in the incident.
Here’s why I think Hamilton was rightfully penalised. Let’s take a look at Hamilton’s onboard image of the moment he made contact with Verstappen. The white kerbing is the apex of the corner. The car is consistently supposed to hit that apex. As you can see in this image, Hamilton didn’t hit that apex when he was going side-by-side with Verstappen. I think that in this kind of situation, I would’ve relied on Hamilton to be a little more cautious. It’s the first lap of the race, the car has cold tires and a tank full of fuel. These things make the car more unstable. Hamilton could’ve anticipated that he might face some understeer and not have as much grip as he might’ve needed.
Hamilton clearly had limited space, since Verstappen was also being incredibly aggressive. He was turning into the corner while leaving some space for Hamilton. He tried to leave a little more space when he was coming through when he made a tiny correction by straightening his steering wheel for a fraction of a second. It’s very minor, however, because Verstappen immediately resumes turning into the corner. In the end, Verstappen doesn’t really give Hamilton much more space than he had given before. When Max made that correction, Hamilton was significantly alongside him. But when Verstappen resumes turning into the corner after the correction, Hamilton isn’t that far alongside anymore. That’s why it makes sense for Max to fully commit to the corner, while leaving enough space for Hamilton.
Hamilton, however, just doesn’t get the turn-in that he should have. While it looks like he didn’t have enough grip, I think Verstappen was more entitled to that corner, and that Hamilton should’ve had better judgement to be more cautious and pull out of that overtake if required. Since Copse corner is such a high-speed corner, Verstappen’s crash was a high-speed crash. That’s why he had such a massive impact on the barrier. With such a dangerous crash taking place after the contact that Hamilton and Verstappen made, I think the stewards rightly penalised Hamitlon.
But another question is, should the penalty have been harsher? Some people think that Hamilton should’ve received a harsher penalty because he ended up winning the race and beating Leclerc anyway. But the simple answer is, that’s not a valid reason for awarding a harsher penalty. The stewards could not foresee that 10 seconds wouldn’t be enough to stop Hamilton from winning. And besides, the penalties are given based on the incident, not the outcome of the incident or the outcome of the race. You gotta give some credit to Hamilton and Mercedes for actually bouncing back from the penalty. Yeah, it was mainly because the Ferrari was facing engine issues, and also because the Red Flag allowed Mercedes to repair Hamilton’s damaged car. But I still think that it takes a lot of determination and pure pace to pull of a win like that.
We all knew that Verstappen and Hamilton would inevitably collide this season. They’re top-tier drivers, they’re fighting for the World Championship. There’s no way any of them would give up and let the other driver through. In this situation, just before the drivers made contact, they were both counting on the other driver to let off the throttle. And both drivers, especially Hamilton, didn’t let off the throttle enough.
Obviously, this collision has big implications on the title battle. Red Bull looked like they were going to fly away with this championship, but Mercedes and Hamilton are clearly back into it now. Before the 2021 British GP was the 2021 Styrian GP. In this race, Verstappen took a Grand Slam, which is when a driver wins the race from pole position, achieves the fastest lap of the race, and leads every single lap of the race. It’s a sign of massive dominance, which is why Mercedes were understandably worried. Hamilton was 33 points behind Verstappen in the standings coming into this race.
Mercedes were 44 points behind Red Bull as well. But at this race weekend, Red Bull and Verstappen only gained 3 world championship points. That was only because Verstappen won Sprint Qualifying. Mercedes, however, gained 43 points, while Hamilton gained 28 points. Now, Hamilton is only 8 points behind Verstappen in the standings, while Mercedes are only 4 points behind Red Bull. And also, Red Bull have a massive repair job, and a costly one. Damages are estimated to cost Red Bull $1.8 million. The fact that a disaster for Verstappen was the only way for Mercedes to win shows that they need to pick up the pace. Hamilton making contact and ruling Verstappen out of the race showed quite a lot of desperation from Hamilton and Mercedes.
Hamilton passionately celebrated his 8th British GP win straight after the race. It could be taken as a sign that shows that a race win means to Mercedes when they’re losing. Verstappen fans and Verstappen himself were quite upset when Hamilton celebrated like that. But first of all, it’s Hamilton’s home race. Anyone would be incredibly happy to win their home race. But on top of that, he’s won it for the 8th time, and he has an entire home crowd to celebrate the win with. He probably didn’t know that Verstappen was still in the hospital. Also, Hamilton asked his team on the radio straight after the crash whether Verstappen is ok or not. I wouldn’t say that Hamilton was as unsportsmanlike and disrespectful as Verstappen claimed him to be, but I understand why anyone would be angry at Hamilton for celebrating as much as he did.
In conclusion, I think Hamilton was rightly penalised for the incident. The gloves are definitely off, and neither driver is going to give the other an inch next time. Verstappen’s understandably mad at Hamilton for the incident, and I don’t think that the relationship between the 2 drivers will be as friendly anymore.