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BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2021: RACE REVIEW

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5 mins read

Lewis Hamilton charges to British Grand Prix victory!

Lewis Hamilton took a record eight win at the British Grand Prix following a dramatic race that saw Hamilton come together with his championship rival Max Verstappen on lap one that saw the Red Bull driver suffer a massive shunt to leave him knocked out within a few corners into the race. Hamilton charged back after receiving a ten-second penalty to take the lead with three laps to go from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had taken advantage of the first lap chaos to lead the race for 49 of the 52 laps. Valtteri Bottas rounded off the podium places, helping Mercedes close the championship gap on both the title fights.

Saturday’s sprint qualifying winner and championship leader Max Verstappen got the race underway from pole but Hamilton at home, with full crowds behind the Brit, attacked off the line. There was nothing between the two for the first nine corners and heading into Copse Verstappen led but Hamilton came fast at the Dutchman and with both drivers going wheel to wheel, Hamilton took the inside line and had the slightest of touches with the right rear wheel of Verstappen that sent the Red Bull driver flying into the barriers causing a 51G impact! Thankfully Verstappen managed to get out of the car on his own and was flown to a hospital nearby, where reports suggested he is okay. The crash though red flagged the session with the barrier Verstappen crashed into needing to be repaired and the marshals having to remove Verstappen’s damaged car from the track. 

The championship rivals who had been having wheel to wheel battles right from the season opener at Bahrain, finally came together, which left Verstappen worse off. After a break of almost 45 minutes, post clearing off the track, racing resumed, with a standing start as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc headed Hamilton from Bottas. The Monegasque had made up a place in the opening lap on Bottas and with Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash, he slipped through into the lead. The Ferrari driver got a dream re start and sped away right off the line, leaving behind Hamilton. McLaren’s Lando Norris made up a place on the restart on Valtteri Bottas, who had another terrible start, leaving him P4. If one Ferrari had a dream start, an ex-Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel had a nightmarish restart as he spun on the resumption, leaving him falling down the grid.

As racing resumed, the stewards had also had a clear look at Hamilton’s incident with Verstappen and handed the Brit a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision. Given it was a lap one incident, Hamilton probably would have been lucky to escape with nothing more than a time penalty, given the nature of the accident. The Brit, even though was handed a penalty, slowly started charging back at Leclerc’s lead and by lap 15, he had closed the gap to 1.1 seconds. With Ferrari informing Leclerc of engine issues, with was just a matter of time before he got eaten up. But the Monegasque wasn’t one to give in so easily and held onto the lead for another 33 laps, with a faulty engine!

Lando Norris, who was running P3, came in for his scheduled pit stop on lap 22 and a slow pit stop saw the McLaren driver lose track position to Bottas, with the young Brit coming out on the track behind Fernando Alonso in P6. Bottas came in the next lap and a swift stop for the Finn saw him come out in between Alonso and Norris, but with fresher tyres the Mercedes driver wasted no time in dispatching the Alpine.

Four laps later, Hamilton came in for his one and only pit stop, which along with his time penalty saw the seven time world champion come out in fifth position, being 35.4 seconds behind race leader Leclerc, who somehow was managing to hold on to the lead with a Ferrari that was not 100%. Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who had made up decent ground after a poor sprint qualifying, suffered from a very slow Ferrari pit stop that dropped the Spaniard from second to sixth. Sainz’s former McLaren teammate Lando Norris, who was enjoying a strong race in P3, was quickly passed by a charging Hamilton, who seemed to be desperate to take maximum points to build on Verstappen’s agony.

Further down the grid, the other McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo was engrossed in a tussle with Carlos Sainz, with the Ferrari desperate to make up for that slow pit stop. The Australian though, showed why he is rated as one of the best on the grid with impressive defending that kept the Ferrari at bay, even though the Ferrari was in DRS range. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who started the race with great promise, was having a horrible time after his spin, down in P17 and not being able to clear the Williams ahead. He was later informed by his team; his Aston Martin had a technical issue on the car, and needed to retire the car, ending the pain for the four time world champion. Another driver who was having a horrid time was Sergio Pérez, starting from the pit lane but not being able to break through into the points quickly enough to give Red Bull some decent points. The Mexican trying to enter into the top 10, had contact with Kimi Räikkönen’s Alfa Romeo. The contact not only affected Räikkönen’s race but also effectively ended Pérez’s hopes for a top ten finish.

With three laps to go, back up top, Hamilton had eaten up the gap Leclerc had built and on lap 50; Hamilton flew past the Ferrari to take the lead of the race. Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who had played to team game and let Hamilton through, had built up a comfortable gap to Norris in fourth; to secure what would be a double podium for the Brackley based team. As Hamilton crossed the chequered flag, he was filled with emotion and happiness. He drove around the track with the Union Jack, appreciating the crowd who backed him throughout the race. Overcoming a 10 second penalty and a restart, Hamilton had charged back to victory to cut down Verstappen’s championship lead to a mere seven points. It could have been a point less but Sergio Pérez, pitted for a third time in the closing few laps to snatch that all important fastest lap point away from the Brit, although with the Mexican finishing well outside the top 10, he didn’t get the point either. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc followed Hamilton in second place after a brilliant drive from the Monegasque saw him claim his first podium of the year; 70 years after the Scuderia’s first British Grand Prix win back in 1951. Valtteri Bottas helped Mercedes cut down the constructors’ lead to just 4 points with a solid P3. The McLaren pair had a strong performance with Norris and Ricciardo finishing P4 and P5, ahead of Sainz’s Ferrari. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda rounded off the points with the lower midfield battle between AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Alpine heating up as the three teams are separated by a mere nine points.

Leaving Silverstone, as much as Hamilton will cherish a record eight victory at home, he might just have a bittersweet feeling post that first lap crash with Verstappen. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was vocal about his thoughts on the crash and fumed at Hamilton’s penalty stating that the crash was wholly Hamilton’s fault. Whether it was or not, will be looked into in detail by the stewards in the coming few days but what is certain is that, the championship battle has definitely reignited once again, albeit in a controversial manner.

A two week gap sees racing resume in Hungary, and the only things that should matter till then is that Verstappen was able to walk away from that terrible accident and that Red Bull, who were beginning to run away with the championships have a fight on their hands.

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