Sensational Hamilton nets 8th British GP win after early collision with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton was left celebrating an 8th British Grand Prix victory in front of a manic home crowd after a dramatic start to the race saw him collide with title rival Max Verstappen at Copse Corner, sending the Red Bull driver into the barriers at high speed.

It was a worrying moment at one of the fastest corners on the F1 calendar, the Dutchman clattering over the cobbles before impacting heavily into the barriers. Thankfully, Verstappen emerged unscathed and there was a recess of over half an hour as barriers were repaired and race stewards assessed any punishments.

Upon resumption it was Charles Leclerc who resumed in the race lead. But with Hamilton having served a ten second time penalty for his part in the collision, he began to reel in the Ferrari driver, passing with a daring move reminiscent of Nigel Mansell on Nelson Piquet in 1987 to grab the race win with just two laps remaining.

“It’s massively overwhelming and it was such a physically difficult race,” said Hamilton after victory. “What great weather. The home crowd is the best. I’m so grateful to the fans. I wish everyone to stay safe as always and get home safely. This is a dream for me today to do it in front of you all.”

It was a dramatic start, Hamilton doing his utmost to get ahead through the first series of corners. It was fabulous wheel to wheel racing between unquestionably the greatest drivers currently in the sport.

With the Mercedes faster on the straights and Red Bull having the downforce advantage through the corners thanks to the weekend’s data, Hamilton knew it was critical to get ahead early. It looked like he had the move done, getting alongside and even ahead of his rival before having to back out again.

Verstappen was being ultra-aggressive in defence, and through Copse Corner perhaps inevitably it happened, Hamilton touching the right left rear of Verstappen’s car and sending the Dutchman careering into the barriers at high speed.

It was a frightening crash and thankfully Verstappen emerged from his Red Bull unscathed, reminiscent of Suzuka 1990 and with neither driver willing to concede an inch. With barriers having to be repaired and stewards having to assess the situation, there was a lengthy delay before the restart.

The resultant decision led to a ten second time penalty for causing a collision, seemingly ending his chances of a race victory in front of his own fans. Leclerc remained the leader upon the restart, but more drama was quickly forthcoming, Sebastien Vettel losing it at Luffield and just avoiding the barriers.

Yet leader Leclerc was experiencing troubles of his own, reporting an engine lag on the straights and allowing Hamilton to close the gap. And having served his penalty whilst stopping for a fresh set of hard compound tyres to take him to the end, he reshuffled out in fifth position after the dust settled.

It led to a straight fight to the chequered flag and with the home hero still in with a chance of a remarkable comeback victory. And with his tyres coming towards him and Leclerc’s dwindling the remarkable came to pass, Hamilton utilising his DRS to pass the Ferrari driver at the same point that led to to his penalty from the dramatic start.

“I couldn’t have done it without the great teamwork from Valtteri and amazing effort for the team,” added Hamilton. “Today, of course, I have to be measured with my approach particularly with Max because he’s very aggressive.

“I was clearly alongside him and he didn’t give me any space. But regardless whether I agree with the penalty I take it on the chin and I just kept working. I’m not going to let anything get in my way, the crowd’s enjoyment of the weekend, the national anthem and the British flag.”

With Verstappen’s early retirement, it all means that the race for the coveted F1 title is well and truly alive yet again, Hamilton now only 8 points behind his Dutch rival.

2021 British Grand Prix, Sunday – LAT Images

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.