The collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during last Sunday’s race at Silverstone will probably be the most defining moment of this year’s ongoing championship battle.
This year’s championship battle is something that many people have been waiting for because this is the first time since the start of the turbo-hybrid era that both Hamilton and Mercedes look like they are vulnerable. Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari were that one combination of driver and team that did give them some challenge in 2017 and 2018, but in both seasons, ultimately ruined their title challenge because of constant mistakes made on the track by Vettel.
Last two seasons Mercedes and Hamilton won the Constrcutors’ and Drivers’ championship quite easily, as there was no real challenge. The only driver who could give them a challenge occasionally was Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, but his car was stopping him from actually contending for the championship.
But thankfully, for all Formula One fans around the world, Red Bull this year has been able to give Verstappen a car that is more than good enough to challenge the duo of Hamilton and Mercedes for the championship.
The first nine races of this season have been very enjoyable to watch for everyone as the top two drivers on the grid got to race each other on multiple occasions. Verstappen and Hamilton were involved in wheel-to-wheel action in Bahrain, Imola, Portimao, Barcelona and France. They were also engaged in wheel-to-wheel action in the inaugural sprint race at Silverstone.
Before the start of the race weekend at Silverstone, Verstappen had 33 point advantage over Hamilton. He was able to win four of the last five races also, with Hamilton having no possible answer for Verstappen’s pace in those races. One could have seen the pressure on Hamilton’s shoulders as he tried his best to get past Verstappen during the sprint race on Saturday.
The collision that took place between Verstappen and Hamilton was inevitable if you look at the tension that was brewing between both of them and the pressure that was growing race-by-race for Hamilton.
As soon as lights went out, the battle for the lead also began. Verstappen had a slower start this time, unlike the sprint race with Hamilton almost overtaking him. The race from that point onwards was like a mirror image of the sprint race that took place the day before, with Hamilton trying his best at every possible opportunity to get ahead of Verstappen in the first lap. Only because of some great defensive driving was Verstappen able to keep his car in front of Hamilton for the nine corners he survived.
But when they arrived at Copse, one of the fastest corners on the circuit, Hamilton tried to make a move on the inside which was a bit more aggressive than usual. The move was, in a way, a move of desperation by Hamilton as he must have realised that if he wasn’t able to overtake Verstappen in the first lap, then there was a good chance that he would have stayed there for the rest of the race.
Verstappen, who himself wasn’t ready to lose a position, took a tighter racing line, which meant that Hamilton had no space to avoid colliding with the Red Bull next to him. They finally made contact at almost 180mph, with Hamilton’s front left tyres touching Verstappen’s rear right tyres. This collision sent Verstappen straight into the barrier with a force of 51G. Verstappen was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was cleared of any injuries. The race had been red-flagged after the incident because the barriers needed to be repaired.
Hamilton, surprising, only sustained light damages to his front wing, which was then fixed by the team after the car was brought into the pits for the red flag.
The incident was immediately under investigation to determine who was at fault. There was a lot of debate in the paddock whether Hamilton was at fault or not for the incident. Thankfully the decision was made by the race stewards, who issued Hamilton a 10-second penalty. The penalty further divided opinion as many people thought that it wasn’t enough.
Understandably, everyone over at Red Bull was furious that Hamilton could get away with only a 10-second penalty. At the same time, everyone at Mercedes was trying their best to defend their driver. Arguments between both sides have continued even after the race got done.
Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc who had started the race from fourth, was able to snatch the lead of the race after Hamilton had collided with Verstappen. After the restart of the race, Leclerc held onto his lead for a while, even though he was suffering some engine issues. After having served his 10-second penalty in the pits, Hamilton went on a charge to make sure that he was in the best position to get as many points as possible in a race where Verstappen wasn’t going to score any points at all.
Hamilton rejoined behind McLaren driver Lando Norris and was 35 seconds behind race leader Charles Leclerc. Hamilton made short work of Norris as he was able to overtake him in 4 laps. The following driver was his Mercedes teammate Bottas. He overtook Bottas after the team told him to move aside to help him out. Then with another ten laps remaining, Hamilton was now only 7.3s behind Leclerc. He was able to pass Leclerc for the lead with another three laps to go. And in the end, Hamilton was able to win his eighth British Grand Prix in front of 140,000 British fans.
Before the race, Red Bull had a 44 point lead over Mercedes. After the race, the lead is only 4 points. From the collision between Verstappen and Hamilton that only resulted in Verstappen retiring from the race to the penalty given to Hamilton, which eventually didn’t stop him from getting a victory, nothing had gone the in Red Bull’s favour.
Hopefully, both Red Bull and Max Verstappen will be able to continue their hunt for the championship in Hungary after a week’s break.