British GP 2021 Review


By Jim K. July 19. 2021
Britsh GP 2021 Review

Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Britsh GP 2021 Review

Image: Racing Point F1

Britsh GP 2021 Review

Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Lewis Hamilton took an eighth British Grand Prix win at Silverstone in a race that could have seismic consequences for the championship. The Brit collided with title rival Max Verstappen as the two incessantly dueled on the opening lap of the race. Verstappen came off worse with a terrifying 5.1G crash into the barriers, ending any hopes to extend his championship lead. Hamilton drove his Mercedes to victory after a race-long fight with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, despite serving a contentious 10-second penalty at his pit stop.

The race stewards hit Hamilton with one of the more lenient penalties at their disposal. A drive-through penalty or 10-second stop/go could've hurt the Brit more, and Verstappen will undoubtedly feel he'll leave Silverstone hard done by with zero points from Sunday. It's the talking point of the race that will continue being debated until the next Grand Prix in Hungary, if not longer. Red Bull argued for a harsher punishment for Hamilton, while Mercedes claim their driver was not the sole reason for the crash.

Sunday's grid was set for another duel between Verstappen and Hamilton following the debut of F1 Sprint on Saturday. The shortened race altered the starting positions from Friday's qualifying session by replacing the home hero with Verstappen's Red Bull on pole position. Any on-track support Max would've hoped for disappeared as his Mexican team mate, Sergio Perez, spun on the exit of Chapel and retired. He would begin the Grand Prix in last place.

Ferrari called Sprint the equivalent of a red flag, and it's hard to disagree. The trial event failed to provide any more Saturday entertainment than usual, although Alpine's Fernando Alonso's opening lap was a spectacle to watch. The two-time champion somehow overtook six cars from P11 on the opening lap, ultimately finishing in seventh; a position he would then cross the finish line in for the full-fat Grand Prix.

When the racing resumed on Sunday, a fired-up Hamilton appeared to know any hope of getting past Verstappen would come on Lap 1. The Dutchman's superior pace one day earlier confirmed any Mercedes car upgrades were not enough to address the speed advantage of their Red Bull rivals. With wheel-to-wheel racing off the line and all the way to Copse corner, the two championship protagonists provided breathtaking action.

With Verstappen just having the edge, it was Hamilton in the slipstream on the old pit straight as he took the inside line of the ultra-fast right-hand Turn 9. Hamilton had pulled alongside but backed out slightly before the apex thanks to the acute angle Verstappen forced him to face the corner with. When Max turned his RB16B in, his rear right caught the front of the Mercedes, sending him hurtling into the barriers and out of the race.

Britsh GP 2021 Review

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

Britsh GP 2021 Review

Image: Williams F1

During the resulting red-flag period, Hamilton's car received new wheels after his team found a crack in a wheel rim from the contact. On the restart, it was the Ferrari of Leclerc lining up in P1. The Monegasque driver began the Grand Prix in fourth but had taken third-place from Valtteri Bottas and breezed past Hamilton for the lead after the Brits incident. Leclerc soaked up the pressure from behind with ease and was likely comforted in knowing he had a 10-second advantage over the man behind him.

In opposite fortune, Bottas's day didn't get any better on the restart as he lost out to Lando Norris, who continued his stellar season. Now down in P4, Bottas didn't seem to have enough speed to battle the young McLaren driver on the racetrack. In the end, he didn't need to, as Norris's team botched their driver's pit stop allowing Bottas to claim what would be a net P2 thanks to Hamilton's penalty. Fortunes seemed to be changing for Mercedes, with leader Leclerc reporting software issues in his engine, allowing Hamilton to close up.

Once all the leaders had pitted, the chessboard was set for Hamilton to mount his battle back, having served the 10-second penalty in the pit lane. Leclerc now led Bottas by 7-seconds, with Norris a short while behind and the second Mercedes closing in fast. In this second stint, Hamilton was racing with fire in his belly. He swept aside his countryman in Norris before Bottas duly jumped out the way after receiving team orders from the pit wall.

With software issues behind him, and although Leclerc drove a faultless race, his tires couldn't hold on while Hamilton closed in with lap times over 1-second faster at times. With just two laps to spare, and in poetic irony, Hamilton was on the tail of the lead car at Copse, the site of his earlier controversy. Undeterred, Lewis dove down the inside once again, this time emerging in P1 without contact as Leclerc ran wide. Euphoria filled the packed grandstands, and Hamilton only had to keep it on the black stuff to bring home his fourth 2021 race win.

With Verstappen walking away from Britain with only three points from the Sprint event, his championship lead has been cut to an eight-point advantage. Fans, experts, and drivers will weigh in with opinions on the decision to penalize Lewis or not, but the history books will see another Hamilton win for the British Grand Prix. Whether or not this race's Lap 1 will become a championship-defining moment remains to be seen, but irrespective, Formula One heads to Budapest amid the closest title fight we've seen in years.