MEDIA RELEASE/Bart Horsten - Photos: supplied via Jakob Ebrey Photography Australian racer Bart Horsten scorched…
Max Verstappen’s British Grand Prix lasted barely half a lap before the Dutch driver crashed out at the high speed Copse corner after contact from championship rival Lewis Hamilton. Found responsible for the incident by Race Stewards, Hamilton recovered from the subsequent penalty to storm home to victory from Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas.
The cars moved to the grid under the watchful eyes of more than 140,000 fans with Verstappen and Hamilton sharing the front row of the grid, from Bottas and Leclerc on row 2 and the all McLaren pairing of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo on the third row. Sergio Perez began his race from the pitlane exit after his race ending incident in Saturday’s sprint race.
Vestappen got the better start and edged over towards Hamilton on the approach to Abbey, the first right hand turn, which gave Hamilton the better line and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 machine edged into the lead. Verstappen stayed alongside which gave him track position for the second corner and the Red Bull Honda was back in front.
Hamilton launched another offensive, having gained the advantage of the tow down the Wellington Straight. The pair touched wheels as Verstappen edged towards Hamilton on the outer edge of the circuit and retained his lead at Brooklands corner. The British driver gained a second slipstream down the old pit straight and then jinked to go outside before diving towards the apex at the high speed Copse corner.
Contact was made as Verstappen turned into the corner, with the front left of Hamilton’s car tagging Verstappen’s right rear tyre. The impact saw Verstappen spin off the track and skim across the gravel as his right rear tyre shed itself from the rim. The Red Bull Honda slammed into the tyre barrier with a 51g impact as Leclerc took advantage of the incident to slip past Hamilton and into the lead.
“I was ahead going in there man. Fully locked turn, it was my line,” Hamilton told his engineer at the time. “He turned in on me. I was giving the guy space”
Verstappen was soon out of the car, which brought a huge sigh of relief to the large crowd and the Red Bull Honda team. The Dutch driver was understandably shaken and unsteady on his feet. After initial assessment from the F1 Medical team, Verstappen was taken back to the Silverstone circuit Medical Centre and then flown to Coventry Hospital for further checks.
Red Bull Racing later released the following statement on Verstappen’s condition;
“Following a first lap incident at Copse Corner between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix, we can confirm that Max Verstappen walked away from his car and was immediately taken to Silverstone Circuit Medical Centre,” The statement read. “Following an assessment by the trackside doctors at Silverstone Circuit Medical Centre, Max was taken by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for further tests and observation. We are pleased to confirm that Max was released from hospital at 22:00 this evening, following a thorough medical examination, without any major injuries.”
The Safety Car sign was called almost immediately then the race was red-flagged as the medical crew went to Verstappen’s aid in order to remove the damaged Red Bull Honda and to repair the tyre barrier which had been compromised by the incident.
Charles Leclerc led the field at the restart from Hamilton and Norris, who had moved ahead of Bottas. The second Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 driver then came under pressure from Ricciardo. who was determined to stay in touch with his teammate. Alonso and Vettel were engaged in a spirited battle for 6th before Vettel lost the rear of his Aston Martin Cognizant at the exit of Luffield and spun onto the old pit entry road. Alonso then moved ahead of Ricciardo for a brief moment but had to cede the position having run outside the circuit limit to gain the advantage.
Leclerc held a 1.2 second lead by lap 5 as word came through of a 10 second penalty to Hamilton for his role in Verstappen’s accident.
The order at the head of the field had settled by lap 6 with Leclerc still ahead of Hamilton, Norris, Bottas and Ricciardo, who looked to be in some trouble with light puffs of smoke trailing the McLaren at different points of the circuit. Carlos Sainz had also moved past Alonso for 6th and began to make inroads in the gap to the 5th placed Australian.
Ricciardo was the first of the leaders to make his stop and was followed by teammate Norris on lap 22. The pair had switched from the medium to the hard compound tyres, with Norris’ stop delayed by a problem changing the right rear tyre.
Bottas responded with a pitstop on the next lap to reduce any potential undercut by Norris. It worked out even better for the Finn when his Mercedes-AMG Petronas crew serviced his car in a little over 2 seconds, which was nearly half the time for which Norris had been stationary. Bottas came out ahead of Norris and behind Alonso, who had not yet stopped. He quickly moved ahead of the Alpine driver to strengthen his advantage over the McLaren driver.
Hamilton radioed that his front left tyre was “dead” as he headed to the pitlane at the end of lap 28. The team remained stationary as a large pole with an orange square hung over Hamilton’s cockpit. At the conclusion of the 10 second penalty the team leapt into action, raised the car and changed the worn medium rubber to a fresh set of the hard compound tyre. Hamilton resumed ini 5th place, behind Gasly and Norris.
At that point it was Leclerc from Sainz in a Ferrari 1-2 before Sainz became the first to pit on lap 29. A troublesome left front wheel change had Sainz stationary in the pit box for a little over 12 seconds, which ultimately worked in Daniel Ricciardo’s favour later in the race. Thankfully for Charles Leclerc when he made his stop on the following lap, leaving the pit box after a 2.6 second stop.
Hamilton moved ahead of Norris and closed on 2nd placed Bottas with 12 laps left to run. Leclerc held a 7.7 second lead at that point with a further 1.8 seconds to Hamilton in 3rd. Hamilton was lapping 1 second quicker than Leclerc at that point and was expected to catch the Ferrari by the penultimate lap of the race.
While Leclerc was pushing to stay ahead of Hamilton at the front of the field, the roles were reversed for P5 with Sainz in pursuit of Ricciardo. The gap fluctuated at just around a second, which gave the Ferrari driver the benefit of DRS throughout the final 10 laps of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen threatened to bring out the Safety Car with 5 laps left when he lost the rear end of his Alfa Romeo at the exit of the Vale Chicane after contact with Perez. He spun off the circuit, narrowly avoided the gravel and was able to continue in the race just ahead of race leader Leclerc.
By lap 49 Hamilton had closed to within a second and took further time from the leader with the advantage of DRS.
By lap 50 Hamilton sat in the slipstream of the Ferrari down the old pit straight and moved right to pass at Copse, just as he had done on the opening lap of the race. Leclerc turned in to find the #44 on his inside and ran wide towards the outside kerbs. This time there was no contact as Hamilton took the lead.
It might have seemed to be a ‘mission impossible’ for Hamilton, but with Tom Cruise watching from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas garage, the reigning champion was not going to accept defeat.
“Just keep it off the kerbs,” Hamilton’s engineer asked as the race entered its penultimate lap.
Lewis Hamilton went on to win a record 8th British Grand Prix from Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas. Lando Norris took 4th and Daniel Ricciardo 5th, having held off a long term challenge from Carlos Sainz in 6th. Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Yukii Tsunoda completed the top 10.
Today, as always, I tried to be measured in how I approached the race, particularly battling with Max,” Hamilton told Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Media. “He’s very aggressive, but I was fully alongside him and he didn’t leave me any space. Regardless of whether I agreed with the penalty, I took it on the chin and I just kept working. I was just like, ‘I’m not going to let anything get in the way of the crowd’s enjoyment of the weekend, the national anthem and the British flag’. I couldn’t have done it without the great teamwork from Valtteri and the amazing effort from the team so I’m very grateful and just so happy to deliver this result for the team and the fans.”
Lewis Hamilton then spoke of the accident during the post race interviews to and gave his account of those moments.
“I dummied him, moved to the right for that gap and I was pretty far up alongside him but I then could see he wasn’t going to back out, and we went into the corner, and we collided,” Hamilton said after the race. “That’s never the way I want to win a race or to race in general, but yes, these things do happen. I just hope he’s OK and I look forward to many more races. At the end of the day I’ve not really seen the footage, I saw a quick clip but will naturally go back and have time to reflect on it.
I don’t think I’m in the position to have to apologise for anything, we’re out there racing, I heard Max is in hospital and that definitely concerns me. None of us ever want any of us to ever get injured, that’s never my intention, so I really hope he’s okay. I’ll hit him up after this just to check he’s okay, and we live to fight another day.
There’ll be a lot of tough races coming up and we have to learn to strike a decent balance. I don’t agree with the stewards but I take my penalty on the chin and get on with my job. I’m not gonna whine about it, everyone’s gonna have a different opinion, I don’t really care what people think. I do what I do and am really grateful for today.”
Toto Wolff later added his view on the Verstappen and Hamilton accident.
“We have seen a dramatic and exciting race today with Lewis winning the British Grand Prix again,” Wolff told Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Media. “As for the incident between Lewis and Max, it always takes two to Tango and these two competitors were not giving each other an inch. It’s a high speed corner and that’s why these things are nasty to look at, but there is a clear regulation that is black and white on paper – if the front axle is over the middle of the car on the outside, it is your corner.”
After his release from Hospital, Max Verstappen took to social media to express his view of the accident and post race celebration.
“First of all: I am glad I’m ok,” Verstappen wrote. “It was quite an impact at 51G but feeling better. Obviously very disappointed with being taken out like this. The penalty given does not help us in any way and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations after the race while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour but we move on.”
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