CONTROVERSIAL: Hamilton wins at Silverstone after Verstappen crash
Lewis Hamilton believes the race for a record-breaking eighth world championship is back on following his controversial victory at Silverstone.
Hamilton’s first win since May 9 sees him head to Hungary – the concluding round before the summer break – just seven points behind Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver’s dramatic exit from Sunday’s race.
At a sun-cooked Silverstone this season’s brilliant championship battle finally boiled over after just nine corners.
Wounded by missing out on pole position when a poor getaway in Saturday’s maiden Sprint race allowed Verstappen to take the spoils, the Briton – with Hollywood actor Tom Cruise watching on from the Mercedes garage – was ready to turn his title bid from Mission Impossible to Mission Possible. Cue the best opening lap of recent memory.
Hamilton flew away from his marks and drew alongside Verstappen, but the Dutchman slammed the door shut at Silverstone opening right-hander Abbey bend.
Verstappen’s defence through the ensuing corners put Hamilton on the front foot and the Mercedes man momentarily moved ahead of Verstappen at more than 200mph on the Wellington Straight, only to see Verstappen stay in front by retaining the racing line through Brooklands.
However, Verstappen ran wide on the exit of Luffield, affording Hamilton a third opportunity for glory. Verstappen moved to the centre of the track to defend. Hamilton jinked one way and then the next, Verstappen squeezing his rival up against a concrete wall on the old pit straight.
Verstappen was marginally ahead as they approached the right-hander Copse, but neither man was prepared to back out.
As Verstappen turned in for the corner, Hamilton’s left-front wheel tagged the right-rear of his Red Bull. The force of the impact sent Verstappen spiralling out of control, backwards through the gravel and into the barriers to an audible groan of concern among the largest gathering at a sporting event in the UK since the pandemic started.
Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase was straight on the radio, asking: “Max are you OK?”
For eight seconds there was silence. Then suddenly, the sound of a man wincing in pain following an impact which registered at an extraordinary 51G.
Verstappen was barely able to put a word together but managed to haul himself out of his destroyed Red Bull machine before standing hunched over.
Medics were on the scene, and they led Verstappen away to an ambulance. There was palpable relief among the fans and a round of applause as Verstappen managed to offer a wave.
The race was stopped and the accusations began, chiefly from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
In a heated radio message to FIA race director Michael Masi, Horner said: “In that corner, Lewis was never anywhere near alongside.
“Every driver that has driven this circuit knows that you do not stick a wheel on the inside of Copse. That is an enormous accident.
“And it was 100 per cent Max’s corner. As far as I am concerned, the full blame is on Hamilton who should never have been in that position.
“You could have had a massive accident. Thank God he walked away unscathed, so I hope you are going to deal with it appropriately.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, also got in on the act, putting his team’s view across, somewhat bizarrely, in an e-mail.
Masi replied: “Toto, I don’t access my emails so I can deliberately concentrate on the race.”
Hamilton, now with his helmet and balaclava off, was then seen at the back of the Mercedes garage shaking his head as he watched a replay.
Following a delay of 35 minutes, the race restarted with Hamilton now second after Charles Leclerc took advantage of the opening-lap smash to assume the lead.
In came the verdict from the stewards. Hamilton was guilty, “predominantly at fault” for the crash and slapped with a 10-second penalty.
Hamilton served the punishment at his pit stop on lap 27 of 52 which dropped him to fourth behind Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and a dozen seconds adrift of Leclerc.
Hamilton passed Norris on lap 31 before Bottas was ordered out of his way by Mercedes. The world champion then set about hunting Leclerc, with the gap reduced to just 1.5 seconds with four laps left.
On lap 50 of 52 at Silverstone, Hamilton put his Mercedes on the inside of Leclerc’s Ferrari through Copse, but the Monegasque ran wide and Hamilton was in the lead to the delight of the mostly partisan crowd. He crossed the line 3.8 seconds clear of Leclerc with Bottas completing the podium and Norris finishing fourth.
Hamilton’s triumph, his 99th, ended a five-race losing streak.
“It’s been such a hard year,” Hamilton said. “It is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but it has been an emotional rollercoaster as it always is with a title race.
“The first four races were close then we saw them take that step ahead. We made some mistakes as a team but also lost performance.
“Did I ever feel we would be back in the title fight? I don’t know. I prayed and hoped for it because I thought it would be a real slog. But the race is on.”
Hamilton took to Instagram on Sunday evening to wish Verstappen well.
He posted: “Today is a reminder of the dangers we face in this sport and we should never take lightly the risks. I send my best wishes to Max who is an incredible competitor and I’m glad to hear he is ok. I will always race hard but always fairly.
“I’m so proud of what we achieved today through teamwork. My team showed grit, perseverance and commitment to this incredible sport. It’s a dream to win in front of my home crowd. This is for you. Never give up, keep rising, keep fighting.”
Hamilton racially abused following Silverstone win after Verstappen incident
Mercedes, Formula One and its governing body the FIA have issued a joint statement condemning the online racist abuse aimed at Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, 36, was targeted following his crash with rival Max Verstappen on the opening lap of Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The seven-time world champion delivered a superb comeback drive to record his eighth win on home soil, while Verstappen was taken to hospital following the 190mph shunt which registered at 51G.
Red Bull said he was released from hospital at 10pm on Sunday night “without major injuries”.
The statement read: “During, and after, yesterday’s British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision.
“Formula One, The FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms.
“These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.
“Formula One, the FIA, the drivers and the teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “We have seen it in the football at the European Championship and the abuse is absolutely not acceptable, and it is the same yesterday.
“I still question whether some just don’t get it. This is not acceptable and we will react to it.”
Hamilton was handed a 10-second penalty for the accident with Verstappen at Silverstone after the stewards adjudged him to be “predominantly at fault”.
The abuse came from a number of countries and started during Sunday’s race in response to posts from both F1 and Mercedes’ social media platforms.
It is understood that F1 is compiling a dossier of the offensive posts and will raise them directly with the platforms and call on them to take stringent action.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team also issued a statement criticising the attacks on Hamilton.
“While we may be fierce rivals on-track, we are all united against racism,” the Milton Keynes team said.
“We condemn racist abuse of any kind towards our teams, our competitors and our fans.
“As a team we are disgusted and saddened to witness the racist abuse Lewis endured yesterday on social media after the collision with Max.
“There is never any excuse for it. There is certainly no place for it in our sport and those responsible should be held accountable.”
Last week, Hamilton issued a post after Marcus Rashford, Jordan Sancho and Bukayo Saka were racially abused following England’s Euro 2020 final defeat against Italy at Wembley.
He wrote: “The racial abuse on social media towards our players after yesterday’s game is unacceptable. This sort of ignorance has to be stopped.
“Tolerance and respect for players of colour should not be conditional. Our humanity should not be conditional.”
Watch the channel on TV