The Leaders Collide! F1 2021 Season Review: Britain
A review of the controversial British Grand Prix, one week later.
It has now been a week since the British Grand Prix tore the community in half following a controversial clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Now that the controversy has (somewhat) blown over, let's take a look at the events of the British Grand Prix.
Last weekend's race at the Silverstone circuit saw the drivers decide the starting grid in a somewhat unusual way. Formula One decided to test an all new Sprint Race format, where the drivers compete in a standard qualifying session on Friday to determine the grid position of the 1/3rd-length race; which would then be completed on Saturday to build the grid for Sunday's full-length race.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position in the Friday qualifying session, putting him in the prime position to win the Sprint Race on Saturday. Max Verstappen lined up alongside the Briton and was able to get past him on the run down to Turn 1; before retaining the lead for the entire 17 lap race and taking pole position. Valtteri Bottas would line up in third, alongside Charles Leclerc that continues his qualifying excellent to start in fourth.
The McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were able to overtake their way to fifth and sixth place on the grid; followed by a storming Fernando Alonso, who jumped from 11th to 5th on the first lap, before finishing the sprint in seventh. Sebastian Vettel would line up in eighth, followed by an excellent performance from George Russell to put his Williams in ninth, ahead of Ocon in tenth.
Carlos Sainz would start in eleventh place, followed by Pierre Gasly in 12th and Kimi Raikkonen in 13th. Lance Stroll would start in 14th, followed by Giovinazzi in 15th and Tsunoda in 16th. Latifi would line his Williams up in 17th, followed by Mick Schumacher in 18th and Mazepin in 19th. Sergio Perez would start from the pitlane after spinning in the sprint race and tactically retiring the car.
Note: George Russell received a three place grid drop for an incident with Carlos Sainz in the sprint, dropping him down to 12th. You can learn more about sprint qualifying by clicking here.
As the five red lights went out for the British Grand Prix. It was Hamilton that got the better start from the right side of the grid and would challenge Verstappen into Turn 1. The Red Bull driver held his car around the outside and turned in on Lewis, preventing an overtake from happening through the Abbey corner. Leclerc made his way past Bottas behind them.
Hamilton followed Verstappen through Farm and had a look around the outside of Village corner. Verstappen defended well and Hamilton switched to the other side of the track, running his car wide through the Turn 4 corner 'The Loop' in order to get a better exit onto the Wellington Straight.
Verstappen's exit onto the straight was compromised and the Dutchman had to weave on the straight to break the tow. Hamilton briefly entered the tow before drawing alongside his championship rival and bumping wheels with him multiple times on the run down to Brooklands.
Hamilton was ahead in the braking zone but Verstappen positioned his car down the inside and cut in front of the seven time champion before the long right-hander that is Luffield. Hamilton went wider through the corner and got the better exit through Woodcote and onto the old start/finish straight. Verstappen went defensive and started to close the inside of the straight, but Hamilton found a gap and went to the inside.
The pair went through the corner side-by-side and Hamilton's front left wheel made contact with Verstappen's rear right. Verstappen spun and hit the wall heavily, with the peak of the impact recording at 52G of force. Hamilton was able to keep the car on the track, but was passed by Leclerc - before the Safety Car then Red Flag was then waved.
Thankfully Max was okay, but was winded in the accident and took a couple of minutes to get out of the car and away from the scene. The 23-year old was taken to the medical centre as a precaution due to the forces of the accident; before being transported to the local hospital for some scans and checks. Luckily everything was clear, which is the most important thing.
There is a lot of speculation at who was at fault; with a lot saying Hamilton was to blame for not hitting the apex of the corner. However, many others believe that Verstappen is as much to blame for squeezing Hamilton. You can read a full analysis of the accident by clicking here.
It took a while for Verstappen's car to be cleared and for the barrier to be repaired, and the race was later resumed on a standing start. Leclerc is able to maintain the lead on Hamilton, who is driving a lot more cautiously after the incident, before reporting on lap 15 that his engine started to 'cut out'. Hamilton starts to pick up the pace after this happens.
Ricciardo comes into the pits on lap 21, switching his Medium tyres for a set of Hards, followed by teammate, Norris, a lap later to prevent Bottas re-overtaking him via the undercut. Norris' rear-right tyre is slow to be swapped, meaning the Briton got jumped by the Mercedes driver a lap later after he came into the pits for a set of Hard tyres.
Lewis Hamilton receives a ten second penalty for his incident with Verstappen as a result of not hitting the apex around the corner, and serves it on lap 28 during his pitstop from Medium to Hard tyres. Sainz pits a lap later for the same compound, suffers a slow stop, and emerges behind Daniel Ricciardo, who expertly defends from the Spaniard for the next 25 laps.
Leclerc pits on lap 30 for a set of Hard tyres, and re-emerges in the lead due to Hamilton being down the order. Hamilton then makes his way past Lando Norris at Copse corner (the same corner where he collided with Verstappen), but the McLaren driver decided not to make it too difficult for him.
Lap 39 sees Perez make his second pitstop of the day, switching to another set of Medium tyres (having started on the Hard compound) in order to try and prevent Hamilton from setting the fastest lap and closing the championship gap by an extra point. Perez was successfully able to prevent Hamilton setting the fastest lap; but had a disaster of a race by only finishing 16th.
Mercedes ask Bottas on lap 41 to "not fight Lewis" on the radio when Hamilton catches up to him. The Finn is then told to let Hamilton through at Stowe corner as he is faster and had a chance at catching Leclerc for victory. Meanwhile, Vettel retires on lap 42 as a result of a mechanical problem.
For the next ten laps, Hamilton is setting qualifying laps on his tyres in a desperate attempt to catch up to Leclerc. The number 44 driver was setting lap times that were over a second a lap faster than the Ferrari, who was still having issues with his engine that were being temporarily fixed.
Hamilton finally catches Leclerc on lap 50 of 52, with his tyres starting to struggle, and overtaking the Monégasque at Copse corner cleanly. Leclerc tried to defend, but left the champion a lot more space than Verstappen did. Hamilton had also learned from his mistakes and hit the apex of Copse when making the overtake. Leclerc went wide after the corner and saved a large twitch of oversteer, before crossing the line a lap and a half later in second place. A great performance from the Ferrari driver to lead 50 laps of a race, but he ultimately didn't win as a result of his engine problems and tyre wear.
Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line on the newly named 'Hamilton Straight' to claim an eventful, but deserved eighth victory at Silverstone to extend his record of victories at his home circuit. You can see the full results below:
Overall, I would rate the British Grand Prix an 8 out of 10. There was drama at the start, followed by an incredible chase through the field by Hamilton to take a nail-biting victory with just two laps to go. Nobody was sure if he would catch up in time, making the race that much more enjoyable! What did you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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