The 2021 British Grand Prix produced a controversial win for Lewis Hamilton as he recorded his first win since the fourth race of the season. Hamilton cut Max Verstappen’s lead of thirty-three points by twenty-five points in the 2021 FIA World Drivers’ Championship.
On a scorchingly hot day at the Silverstone circuit, the two main title contenders, Hamilton and Verstappen, clashed at the high speed Copse corner on the first lap. Verstappen ended up in the barriers with a heavy crash of over 50G.
The Dutchman was heavily winded but walked away from the crash and was taken to hospital for a precautionary checkup. The incident will be heavily debated in the days to come and the gloves are off in the championship fight.
Top of the class…
Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -36.520s | Race margin to team-mate: -39.583s
Charles Leclerc qualified in fourth position on Friday and retained that position in the Sprint Qualifying race. The Monégasque driver had a great start in the race and overtook Valtteri Bottas to take third position.
When the two main title contenders clashed in front of him, Leclerc took the lead of the race on the first lap. In an impressive first stint even as he battled with power unit issues, Leclerc held his own and maintained an over two seconds gap from Hamilton.
The Ferrari SF21 has been chewing up the tyres in previous races. Leclerc was quick on the medium compound tyres and he pitted two laps later than Hamilton.
After Hamilton’s 10-second penalty was applied during his pit stop, Leclerc had a comfortable lead of over eight seconds. Though Hamilton eventually reeled him in with just two laps to go, it was a very measured drive from Leclerc.
Leclerc clinched his first podium of the season and “Driver Of The Day” honours for good measure.
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes AMG Petronas Team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -6.072s | Race margin to team-mate: -11.125s
Lewis Hamilton started in second position and won the race after a winless streak of five races. The Briton won for the eighth time at the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton lost his hard won first position in Friday qualification in the Sprint Qualifying race as Verstappen aced the start. After that Verstappen was in control and took pole position for Sunday’s race.
In front of his home crowd, Hamilton was in no mood to play the cautious game and concede the lead to Verstappen on the first lap in the race. Both drivers were not prepared to give an inch and it lead to the heavy crash at the high-speed Copse corner.
The race was red-flagged which helped the Mercedes team to repair the damage to Hamilton’s car. Otherwise it could have led to a DNF for Hamilton as well.
The stewards gave Hamilton a 10-second time penalty which he took at his first pit stop. In his second stint, Hamilton after he passed Bottas on lap 40 took just 10 laps to pass Leclerc.
Hamilton trails by just eight-points in the drivers’ championship now with his win and Verstappen’s DNF. The controversial first lap move has ignited the rivalry between the title contenders and the two teams.
Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -6.848s | Race margin to team-mate: -14.051s
Lando Norris is having a stellar season and sits in third position in the drivers’ championship now. Norris continues to impress in qualification and race trim.
Norris started in fifth position in the race. After the restart he jumped Bottas to take third position and looked set for his fourth podium of the season.
Norris had to be content with fourth position because of a long six second pit stop and lesser pace on the hard compound tyres in the second stint.
This was another quality performance by Norris at his home race. The young Briton has moved himself into the top echelons of the drivers on the grid this season.
Fernando Alonso – Alpine Renault F1 Team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -3.868s | Race margin to team-mate: -4.069s
Fernando Alonso was the star of the Sprint Qualifying race when he gained four positions to start seventh in the race. Alonso lost a place to Sebastian Vettel at the start of the race.
Alonso recovered to finish in seventh position. It was the fifth race in the points for the veteran driver as he outqualified and outraced his team-mate Esteban Ocon once again.
Alonso admitted that he is finally coming to terms with the car and the Pirelli tyres after the race.
Homework to do…
Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes AMG Petronas Team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: +6.072s | Race margin to team-mate: +11.125s
Valtteri Bottas finished in third position in the race. But with the Hamilton and Verstappen collision and the penalty for Hamilton, it was Bottas’s race to win. The Finn lost one position at the race start to Leclerc. After the red-flagged session, on the race restart he lost another position to Norris.
Bottas had to use a pit stop to jump Norris. On lap 40, he was given team orders to allow the rapidly advancing Hamilton to pass him. Bottas has struggled in the races with tyre wear and it was the case in this race also. At no stage did he challenge Leclerc for second position.
Bottas started in third position and after the two drivers ahead of him had a collision, he should have been in a position to win the race.
Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin F1 Cognizant Team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -7.740s | Race margin to team-mate: N/A
Sebastian Vettel had a good Sprint race and qualified to start in eighth position in the race. Vettel was six positions ahead of his team-mate Lance Stroll on the grid.
After a good start, Vettel in wheel to wheel combat with Alonso lost the car on his own with a spin. This dropped the German to the back of the field from which he never recovered.
After an awful race for Vettel, the car was retired on lap 40. Stroll in the meanwhile advanced from fourteenth position to finish in eighth position.
A familiar weakness of Vettel that started in his Ferrari years resurfaced today to ruin what was a good weekend until then.
Sergio Pérez – Red Bull Racing Honda
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: N/A | Race margin to team-mate: N/A
Sergio Pérez with an unforced error in the Sprint Qualifying race ended up retiring from the race. The Mexican started from the pit lane.
Pérez has recovered well from this position in previous races. But today was not his day. After starting on the hard compound tyres, the Mexican advanced as far as eleventh position.
Pérez pitted early and was making his way into the point positions. A second pit stop saw the Mexican doing this all over again.
With three laps to go, his team pitted Pérez again for the soft compound tyres so that he could take the point for fastest lap from Hamilton. Pérez finished in sixteenth position eventually in a weekend to forget.
Pierre Gasly – Scuderia AlphaTauri team
Sprint Qualifying margin to team-mate: -4.804s | Race margin to team-mate: +3.262s
Pierre Gasly started in twelfth position in the Sprint race and qualified in the same position for the race. George Russell’s penalty saw Gasly start in eleventh position in the race. Gasly had a good first stint that saw him advance to sixth position.
In the second stint, the Frenchman was running in ninth position. But with five laps to go, Gasly suffered a left-rear puncture from gravel on the track.
The second pit stop put Gasly outside the points and brought an end to a tough weekend. This was the first time, Gasly did not score points in a race he finished this season.
Daniel Ricciardo had a good weekend and started in sixth position and finished in fifth position right behind his team-mate Norris. Carlos Sainz had a good recovery drive when he started in tenth position and finished in sixth position. Stroll drove a good race to finish in eighth position.
Esteban Ocon finished in ninth position to score his first points after four races. Yuki Tsunoda recovered from sixteenth position to finish in tenth position to score the final solitary point. George Russell after another good qualification for the Williams Racing Team finished in twelfth position.
The Uralkali Haas F1 Team, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team,, Williams Racing F1 team endured through another pointless race.
All the teams will assemble for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring in two weeks time (July 30-August 1 2021). This is the last race before the summer break.