Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed at the end of the first lap of the British Grand Prix as their rivalry finally exploded in a dramatic incident at Silverstone.
Hamilton had already attempted to overtake pole-sitter Verstappen on a number of occasions before they touched at Copse corner, with the Dutchman flying off the track and slamming into the tyre wall at around 180mph. Verstappen looked winded as he climbed out of the car and was checked over by paramedics but did not appear to be seriously hurt in the high-impact collision.
Verstappen’s team, Red Bull, immediately pointed the finger of blame towards Hamilton, who was on the inside line but behind Verstappen when he turned in.
Hamilton, for his part, claimed he had the racing line, saying Verstappen “turned in on me”. The stewards announced they would be investigating the incident, which led to a long pause as the race was red flagged before restarting in the pit lane. Hamilton was eventually given a 10 second time penalty.
But despite the penalty, the Mercedes driver hunted down Leclerc in the closing laps and passed the Ferrari to claim victory, the eighth of his career at Silverstone.
And after the race, Hamilton and Verstappen disagreed over the main culprit for the accident.
WHAT THEY SAID
Lewis Hamilton on team radio:
“I was ahead going in there, man. Fully alongside, it was my line. He turned in on me, man. It was a big hit on the left front, so do a big check. Is Max OK?”
Hamilton after winning the race:
“I just don’t feel like he needs to be as aggressive as he is.
“We are going down to Turn Six and he’s bumping wheels with me. But it’s cool because there’s footage of old Formula 1 great drivers bumping wheels on the straight. So I’m sure it looks cool and everything but I tried to give him space but I was quite a long way up the inside into Nine and none of us backed out and that was the end result.
“But I took the penalty of course and it’s never one person’s fault, it’s always a balance of the two. I don’t feel anything now, I just channel it into my driving, which I did, and I’m proud I was able to do that in front of the crowd.”
Max Verstappen’s reaction on Twitter:
“Glad I’m ok. Very disappointed with being taken out like this. The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior but we move on.”
Red Bull team director Christian Horner to race director Michael Masi:
“Michael, look, that corner, he was never anywhere near alongside. Every driver who has driven at this circuit knows you do not stick a wheel up the inside at Copse.
“That’s an enormous accident and it was 100% Max’s corner, so as far as I’m concerned, full blame lays on Hamilton, who should never have been in that position.
“You could’ve had a massive accident, thank god he’s walked away unscathed. I hope you’re going to deal with it appropriately.”
Horner to Channel 4 when asked if the occasion got to Hamilton:
“I think so, it was a desperate move. He failed to make the move in the first part of the lap, which he was obviously here to do.
“It’s one of the fastest corners in the world, you don’t stick a wheel up the inside, that’s just dirty driving.”
Horner to Sky Sports F1 after the race:
“It shouldn’t be like that to be honest with you. Max has incurred a 51G accident, Lewis Hamilton is a world champion and he shouldn’t be making manoeuvres like that. It’s unacceptable. He’s put a driver… thank goodness the biggest result for us today is he was uninjured. He’s having to go to hospital for precautionary checks after a 51G accident so I hope Lewis is very happy with himself.
“For me, that’s a hollow victory.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff’s exchange with Masi:
Wolff: “Michael I just sent you an email with the diagrams where the car should be. Did you receive that?”
Masi: “Toto I don’t access my emails during the race deliberately as I concentrate on the race.”
Wolff: “Well maybe you should look at this because there is something with the rules coming now.”
Masi: “I suggest if you want to Toto, feel free to go upstairs and see the stewards directly.”
Wolff after the race:
“As for the incident, it always takes two to tango and these two are not giving each other an inch and it’s a high-speed corner, and that’s why these things are nasty to look at.
“But there is a clear regulation and that is something that’s black and white on paper and as a racing driver you may have a different perspective from the car, but you need to exactly understand that if the front axle is over the middle of the car on the outside it’s your car.
“Is that a corner that is equivalent to any other? Maybe not but an accident involves two drivers.”
Former champion Damon Hill on Sky F1:
We saw a level of aggression from Lewis that we haven’t seen for a while.
“Lewis was very much on the attack and Max would have felt that Lewis was not going to give up any room. But he had to turn into Copse eventually.
“I think this is a high-level of aggression and attack from Lewis, sadly he’s kept it on the inside and really banked on Max backing out of it, which he didn’t do. I’m going to come down a bit on the racing incident side of things, but I can’t see how they can’t give Lewis a penalty. He could have backed out of Copse corner, that was a very ambitious move and the consequences were quite serious.”
Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer on Sky F1:
“I’ve watched it a few times now and to me, if that isn’t a racing incident, nothing is.
“We’ve often talked about allowing the drivers to race over the first couple of laps for the benefit of the fans, and I think that’s what happened there.
“To me it was 50-50 there. Max didn’t have to turn in when he did and Lewis could have been further right, but to me 100 per cent a racing incident.”
THE FIA’S RULING
“The Stewards reviewed video and telemetry evidence. Cars 33 [Verstappen] and 44 [Hamilton] entered turn 9 with Car 33 in the lead and Car 44 slightly behind and on the inside.
“Car 44 was on a line that did not reach the apex of the corner, with room available to the inside.
“When Car 33 turned into the corner, Car 44 did not avoid contact and the left front of Car 44 contacted the right rear of Car 33. Car 44 is judged predominantly at fault.”
WHO WAS TO BLAME?
By Uche Amako
By giving Hamilton a 10 second penalty the race stewards felt the Mercedes driver was at fault and I just about agree them on the basis that with Verstappen slightly ahead going into the corner, the world champion could have backed out.
But with accusations that he has gone ‘soft’ it was great to see Hamilton driving so hard. Neither driver was willing to give an inch and F1 fans have been crying out for wheel to wheel action between them.
Verstappen has been very punchy with his driving against Hamilton and on this occasion, he lost out.