The British Grand Prix saw the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team bring to an end a five-race winning run for Red Bull Racing, but all the focus was on the first lap clash between eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton and current championship leader Max Verstappen at Copse Corner.
Hamilton was attempting to pass Verstappen heading into one of the fastest corners on the Formula 1 calendar, but the two rivals collided, with the Dutchman spinning viciously into the barriers. Hamilton sustained some damage and was handed a ten-second time penalty for his part in it, but he recovered from that to catch and pass Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the victory.
Toto Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, admits the incident has polarised the Formula 1 paddock and beyond, with many differing opinions about who was at fault or whether the penalty was justified, but ultimately it was good to see Verstappen walk away from such a big crash without injury.
“Everyone has their own opinion on the events of Silverstone, and it was a very polarising incident,” said Wolff. “However, the most important thing is that Max is OK.
“It’s never nice to see a car crashing, particularly at such high speeds and at a corner like that, so we’re glad he emerged from the accident unscathed.”
Mercedes finished first and third at Silverstone, and for Wolff it was pleasing to see the team return to winning ways in front of a capacity crowd. He felt Hamilton was on ‘incredible form’ at his home event, and it was a brilliant recovery drive from him to take the victory, while Valtteri Bottas drove well to take third.
“The last race weekend was a very entertaining one for the fans and we had a full-capacity crowd in the stands, which hasn’t happened for quite some time,” said Wolff. “We could feel their energy.
“That made the weekend incredibly special, and obviously they had the chance to watch a very dramatic race, as did everyone else at home.
“For us, it was an encouraging weekend with the pace of the car, the small upgrades we introduced worked well and we scored some big points, so we’re looking to keep that momentum going.
“Lewis was on incredible form at Silverstone with a brilliant recovery drive in front of his home crowd after the penalty. It was also a strong weekend for Valtteri too with some great teamwork and good pace, which has closed the margin in both Championships.”
Wolff says the fine margins that have determined the results so far in 2021 are likely to continue into the rest of the season, starting this weekend in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.
And it was not just Red Bull that Mercedes were fighting at Silverstone, with Ferrari coming on strongly and coming close to a first victory of the season. But Wolff feels Red Bull will likely have a car better suited to the Hungaroring this weekend than Mercedes will.
“We know how fine the margins are this season and how the advantage is swaying from one team to the other at each race,” he said. “Us and Red Bull looked very closely matched at Silverstone and Ferrari were very quick, and now the battle moves onto the next round and a very different track.
“The Hungaroring is a high-downforce, tight and twisty circuit. Almost like a large version of a go-kart track. Hungary will therefore be a different beast compared to the last race, and it is a track that will likely suit our competitors more, but we’ll give it all we’ve got.
“It’s been a long and intense first half of the season and we’re almost at the summer break. We want to ensure we head into the shutdown on the right foot, before we get the chance to recharge, take stock of everything that’s happened so far and then come back fighting in the second half of the season.”