Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 British Grand Prix on Sunday after Max Verstappen fell in the first round after meeting his title rival.
Championship leader Verstappen started from pole position at Silverstone after winning the first F1 sprint race on Saturday, but the Red Bull driver’s left rear tire struck Hamilton’s right front tire in the Copse corner in the first lap, leading the Dutch pilot off the track. and hit the barrier hard at around 180 mph.
Verstappen, who had won the last three Grands Prix before Sunday’s race, got out of his wrecked car and was checked by medical staff before being transported to a local hospital.
Immediately after the crash, which resulted in a 10-second penalty for Hamilton, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc passed the Briton and took the lead.
A red flag followed, resulting in a 40-minute race suspension, but Leclerc retained his focus for a standing restart and would hold onto his lead for 49 laps – despite intermittent engine mapping issues.
Hamilton chased the Monegasque, however, and eventually caught Leclerc on Copse with just two laps to go in a spectacular finish.
Hamilton drove through the final laps to register his third consecutive British GP victory, seventh in eight years and eighth overall. In doing so, the defending champion – second in the drivers’ standings – narrowed the gap with Verstappen to eight points in the title race.
Leclerc finished second for his first podium of the season, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas third and Briton Lando Norris fourth.
Norris McLaren’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth, ahead of Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. Elsewhere, Briton George Russell finished 12th, one place behind Pierre Gasly, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished 16th. Sebastian Vettel left the track shortly after the restart in a display of poor car control, and – although he was able to pick up quickly – the four-time F1 champion’s Aston Martin was retired late.
“Is Max okay?” Hamilton asked the Mercedes team radio as the cars pulled to a halt shortly after the crash in the first lap.
The seven-time champion, 36, added shortly after, “I was ahead there, man. He turned into me, ”before adjusting his assessment to suggest he was“ alongside ”his title rival.
During the race suspension, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner offered a different perspective while communicating with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) by radio.
“It was 100% Max’s corner,” Horner said. “As far as I’m concerned, all the blame is on Lewis. I hope you will take care of it properly.
“Thank God [Max] walked away. Lewis hit a wheel. He knows you don’t do that here.
After the race, a visibly frustrated Horner told Sky Sports: “I hope Lewis is very happy with him. It puts a competitor in danger.
“I don’t care what Lewis said. For me, this is a hollow victory. [Ten seconds] it wasn’t really a penalty, was it? “
In the moments following the crash, Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff told the FIA he had emailed them diagrams of the incident and the trajectory of both cars. A representative from the governing body, however, insisted that they had focused on the race rather than checking their emails.
At the end of the race – the 10th grand prix of the season – the message for Hamilton on the Mercedes team radio was: “Lewis, we never give up, we never give up. It’s always on.
“Damn it,” Hamilton replied.
There are 13 grand prix left this year, with the Hungarian event on August 1st.