The gloves are OFF between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez disappoints when Red Bull needed him most and the Sprint race actually delivered but it needs work – SEVEN things we learned from the British Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix after a controversial opening lap
- The Mercedes driver collided with Max Verstappen to send him crashing out
- Sergio Perez struggled throughout and was of little help to Red Bull all weekend
- Meanwhile, the first-ever Sprint race actually delivered but needs tweaking
- Sportsmail looks at the things we learned from the weekend’s British Grand Prix
Mercedes finally answered back in their battle with Red Bull as Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix in controversial fashion, while Max Verstappen crashed out during the opening lap.
The race’s biggest incident came just moments after lights out, with Verstappen sent into the tyre wall while Hamilton escape relatively unscathed and with a 10-second time penalty.
It didn’t stop the Brit from going on to win an eighth British Grand Prix – tying the record for most wins at a circuit in Formula One – with Red Bull livid as a result. But championship race aside, there was plenty more to dissect. Sportsmail takes a look at the things we learned from Sunday’s action-packed race at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton won the British GP following his opening lap crash with Max Verstappen
The gloves are well and truly off in this championship race.
While Hamilton and Verstappen have been fairly respectful of each other while racing this season, both men pushed the limits in a frantic opening lap before their coming together on one of the fastest corners of the track.
While jostling for position at Copse, Verstappen, who was on the outside line, got ahead of Hamilton before taking the racing line but clipped the Brit’s front left.
The tyre-to-tyre collision sent the Dutchman hurtling into the tyre wall at 180mph, which he thankfully walked away from, while a relatively unscathed Hamilton carried on before being penalised for the incident.
Hamilton looked to take the inside line into the Copse corner and clipped Verstappen’s wheel
Hamilton had looked to pull ahead at the British Grand Prix but Verstappen stood his ground
Verstappen flew off the track after the incident before his car then crashed into the tyre barrier
The crash saw the race red flagged, allowing Mercedes to make the necessary repairs to Hamilton’s car before he could go on to chase down Charles Leclerc and seal a vital race win.
Verstappen went into Sunday’s race with a huge 33-point lead but Hamilton’s win means he is now just leading by eight points, giving Mercedes a new lease of life in this title race.
However, the opening-lap collision still divides opinion on who was at fault and if it was merely a racing incident. The two opposing garages vehemently argued each side’s corner but a furious Christian Horner struggled to keep a lid on things after the race.
Red Bull man Verstappen was soon able to climb from the wreckage after the sickening thud
Asked if Hamilton’s move at Copse corner could have killed his driver, Red Bull chief Christian Horner said: ‘Of course. His actions have put in jeopardy another driver’s safety and for me that is unacceptable.
‘Every driver knows that a move at that corner — one of the fastest in Formula One — is a massive, massive risk.
‘You don’t put a wheel up the inside without there being huge consequences. We are lucky today that there wasn’t someone seriously hurt.
‘What I am most angry about is the lack of judgment, and the desperation in this move. It was never on.’
Christian Horner branded Hamilton ‘desperate’ after a crash which saw his driver go to hospital
He later went on to suggest Hamilton’s win will have felt ‘hollow’, which was dismissed out of hand by the Brit.
Verstappen, himself, took a swipe at Hamilton from hospital where he was taken for pre-cautionary checks, describing his celebrations after winning the British Grand Prix as ‘disrespectful’ and ‘unsportsmanlike’.
In what has been one of the most compelling title fights in years, we just got a whole load of spice added to it.
Russell continues to stake a claim for Bottas’ seat
While Valtteri Bottas has proven to be a more than ideal team-mate for Hamilton at Mercedes, it hasn’t stopped Williams’ George Russell from being linked with his seat for next season.
And Bottas actually performed brilliantly at Silverstone this weekend, grabbing the final podium place after keeping pace with Hamilton and Leclerc all race long while sticking to team orders to ensure victory for his British team-mate.
The Finn may have allowed Leclerc to overtake him in the opening few corners but he did more than enough to make up for it in the 52 laps he had out on track.
Valtteri Bottas finished on the podium in what was another fine drive for Mercedes
However, Toto Wolff and Co will certainly be keeping an eye on Russell, who finished in a respectable 12th this weekend – and that’s with a grid-penalty he picked up in the qualifying sprint race.
While he would’ve been helped by Sebastian Vettel’s and Verstappen’s DNFs, his Silverstone finish is showing those in the Mercedes garage that he is performing well above his means in a car that just doesn’t have the pace.
Russell himself admits that he was disappointed by the finish, but understands the limitations of the Williams car.
‘I don’t know how we managed to qualify so high,’ he said. ‘We still, on paper, have the ninth quickest car in every single session except qualifying. FP1, 2, 3 and the race we’re the ninth quickest and then somehow come qualifying we manage to put it inside the top 10 or top 12.
However, George Russell of Williams is looking like a real threat to take his seat next season
‘Come Sunday, when you have eight faster cars or whatever it is behind you, it is so difficult to keep them there. So it makes it a little bit disappointing, always, after the races.
‘But I guess we’ve got to think: top 12 in all of the last four races, when we retired; fighting for points three out of four of those races. I guess we’d have definitely taken that, before this group of four.’
Sprint race actually delivered… but needs work
While the British Grand Prix saw the return of a capacity crowd in the glorious sunshine, it was a historic race for Formula One for other reasons.
On Saturday, fans were treated to the first-ever Sprint qualifying race, which saw drivers compete in a 30-minute flat-out race over 17 laps to determine grid position for the grand prix while offering points in the championship standings.
The format, which replaces the rather dull third free practice, has been brought in to attract younger audiences to the sport while making the whole race weekend more compelling.
Credit must go to the decision-makers at Formula One for trying something different, even if it hasn’t always worked out in the past, but increasing the spectacle of the sport has been on the agenda for some time and the sprint qualifying race did exactly that on Saturday.
The first Sprint in Formula One history certainly delivered on Saturday at Silverstone
However, the 17-lap dash was full of drama as Verstappen pipped Hamilton to pole
With cars being pushed to the limit, the race itself was exciting and saw Hamilton lose his pole position off the line with Verstappen blitzing his rival to the first corner.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez, had a disastrous session having qualified fifth, with the Mexican spinning out at Chapel after fighting with Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris for position.
With plenty on offer from the session, every driver gave it their all and made for compelling viewing.
However, that’s not to say it was without its faults.
The length of the race proved contentious, with many saying it was too short while others argued 17 laps was too long.
There had been criticism that the new event constituted meddling with the sport’s traditions
While many traditionalists claim that the old format isn’t broke and shouldn’t be fixed, F1 managing director Ross Brawn said he was ‘very pleased’ by what he had seen.
Formula One will see the return of the sprint at two more races in the calendar, where bosses will be able to gauge a better reaction from it.
But if Saturday’s session was anything to go by, then it could prove to be a hit in the not-so distant future.
Leclerc deserved driver of the day
While Hamilton and Verstappen’s collision dominated headlines, one driver who almost stole the spotlight was Ferrari’s Leclerc.
The Monegasque driver did superbly well to lead all but two laps of the race after taking advantage of the opening lap crash and was rightly awarded the driver of the day award despite being passed by Hamilton with two laps to go.
It was his first podium of the season but the 23-year-old admitted he found it ‘difficult to enjoy’ the result having come so close to crossing the line ahead of Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc deserved his driver of the day award after a superb drive in the Ferrari
Leclerc was also left frustrated by a number of engine issues which saw him lose power on multiple occasions but he still managed to hold off Hamilton for the majority of the race.
‘It’s difficult to enjoy 100 per cent,’ he said. ‘Of course it’s been an incredible race. I gave not 100 per cent, but I gave 200 per cent. It was just not enough in the last two laps.
‘Congratulations to Lewis, he did an incredible job and it’s amazing to see as many fans in the grandstand. It was fun in the car but it just lacked a bit of pace at the end.’
He added: ‘We definitely did not expect it. We expected, after qualifying, to be quite competitive, but not as competitive as now.
Leclerc (left) almost won the race but surrendered the lead to Hamilton with two laps to go
‘We’ve been fighting for the win which was incredible and on the medium we were actually quick.
‘Then on the hard we lacked a bit of pace compared to the Mercedes, but overall it was much stronger than we are used to.’
It was another superb drive from Leclerc who continues to show his potential as a future world champion.
Alonso isn’t just here to make up the numbers
Alonso made his triumphant return to F1 this season but there were points where it looked as if age had finally caught up to him.
The two-time world champion struggled for pace at point with Alpine earlier this season, but the Spaniard’s last few races have shown he still has plenty more to offer in that seat.
He did exactly that at Silverstone this weekend, where he guided the car to a seventh-place finish and showed his class in the Sprint the day before, jumping from P11 to P5 in the opening lap before settling for a seventh-place starting spot on Sunday’s grid.
The 39-year-old was delighted with the pace of his Alpine, while he managed to keep a number of drivers at bay for large portions of the race.
Fernando Alonso finished seventh in the Alpine in what was a great effort from the veteran
‘Our best result was Baku, P6, but it was a strange race – so today P7 was probably our strongest weekend on race pace,’ reflected the Spaniard.
‘And happy for that. Difficult race for tyre management with blister concerns, and yes, we managed quite well and we delivered a good result, I think.
‘We never have an easy race, you know? We are always in different battles and different times of the race, but I think [we had] a strong weekend, we have been in the points for the last four or five races.’
Perez disappoints when Red Bull needed him most
While Saturday’s inaugural sprint race was a big hit for Verstappen, who managed to wrestle pole position off Hamilton, the same can’t be said for his Red Bull team-mate Perez.
The Mexican became the first casualty of the session, spinning out at Chapel after trying to improve on Friday’s fifth-place qualifying session.
However, his 360-degree spin was blamed on the ‘dirty air’ behind Alonso and Norris, leaving him to retire from the session and start from the pit lane for Sunday’s race.
‘Coming out of the corner I was already picking up quite a lot of throttle. I think I got caught out in the dirty air and that made things hard,’ Perez said.
‘I became a passenger, basically, really early in the corner. A poor day from my side. Probably here is a place where we have been struggling the most.
It was a disappointing weekend for Sergio Perez, who finished outside the points for Red Bull
‘I struggled a lot with the dirty air and I don’t know if it is related to lighter fuel loads starting or something like that, but I did struggle in the dirty air at the start of the race.’
Verstappen’s crash on the opening lap meant it was up to Perez to rescues Red Bull’s weekend.
But, despite being in one of the fastest cars and being handed a lifeline with the red flag restart, Perez struggled to make his way through the field and into the points.
The only thing he could do was prevent Hamilton was getting an extra point for fastest lap but it ended up being a hugely disappointing end on a tough race weekend for the 31-year-old.
The return of (140,000) fans was just what Silverstone needed
It was a very welcome sight to see Silverstone packed to the rafters just hours before the UK entered ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday.
Over 350,000 fans turned out for the three-day meeting in Northamptonshire while 140,000 of those spectators cheered on Hamilton as he crossed the finishing line after an action-packed race.
While it still feels slightly unnerving to see that many fans all grouped together with Covid cases still surging, the capacity crowd proved to be just the lift F1’s British contingent needed as the nation prepared to return to normality.
Norris, Russell and Hamilton all said the raucous gave them the lift they needed as they rounded the iconic track, with the event being viewed as one of the big steps in the Government’s pilot scheme.
Over 140,000 fans turned out to watch Hamilton win the British Grand Prix on Sunday
‘Every lap I could see them jumping up and cheering,’ said Russell of the fans. ‘We’ve not experienced that this year. We’ve had a year and a half without any fans at all and to come back to capacity on a Friday, it’s a good feeling.
‘For sure it give you lap time because you’re more motivated, more excited. You’ve got that extra spring in your step. You feel a sense of responsibility to perform for them.’
Norris agreed: ‘You see them standing up and cheering which is a cool feeling. It gets you pumped, it gets you motivated to try and nail your next lap or whatever.
‘I think the bigger impact is going to be tomorrow, coming back into the track and seeing them all. It’s just exciting.’
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