Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen came together in the first lap of the British Grand Prix, and despite a penalty, the reigning World Champion won his home race. Charles Leclerc finished a close second as Bottas came home in third.
When the lights went out, Hamilton had the better start and was side by side of Verstappen in Turn 1. The outer line however was somewhat faster, enabling Verstappen to emerge ahead in Turn two and further on through the Wellington straight as well. However, when the two men arrived at Copse, Hamilton opted for the inside line, coming side by side of Verstappen.
Verstappen however turned into the corner and clipped Hamilton’s front left with his right rear wheel. The bump sent Verstappen off in a high speed crash, veering off the track and into the thick tyre wall. As Hamilton damaged his front wing, Leclerc managed to take the lead, followed by Hamilton and then Bottas.
The incident didn’t only ruin Verstappen’s car, but also the tyre barriers, leading into a red flag and everybody driving back into the pitlane to stop the race. Verstappen escaped unharmed, and what followed was another typical discussion with team principals trying to influence the race director by saying their own driver was clearly in the right.
42 minutes after the original start, the safety car left the pitlane, followed by the remaining 19 cars to lead them to their grid positions for a second standing start. Leclerc starts in front, next to Hamilton. Bottas is third on the grid, followed by Norris, Ricciardo, Vettel, Alonso, Sainz, Raikkonen and Ocon.
For this start, the top 10 drivers with new tyres are Leclerc, Bottas, Sainz, Raikkonen and Ocon all got new tyres.
As the lights went out, Leclerc kept the lead in front of Hamilton, just when the latter was handed a 10s penalty for that accident with Verstappen at Copse. Norris easily got ahead of Bottas to take third as Alonso wrestled with Vettel for 6th until the Aston Martin driver overestimated his car’s rear grip and spun off, leading him to rejoin the pack at the back. Sainz though took 6th from Alonso half a lap later, bringing Alonso down into his original starting slot.
At the front, not much changed until lap 16 when Leclerc complained of an engine problem. As Hamilton gained half a second, Leclerc was told to keep going and change some settings, seemingly bringing the situation back under control until one lap later he noted the same issue., again replied to with “should be ok, should be ok!”.
As Hamilton lost DRS again the next lap and further lost ground in the subsequent laps, Norris went fastest in S2 and maintained pressure on the leaders as he followed at just 5 seconds.
On lap 18 we saw the first stops as Raikkonen, Perez, Russell and Vettel all pitted. The moment of the stops was fairly spread across various drivers. Alonso for instance only pitted in lap 26 as Hamilton did his stop and his 10s time penalty one lap later. He switched to hard tyres and returned to the track in 5th, 4s behind Norris and 7s ahead of Gasly.
This left Gasly and both Ferrari’s as the only cars still to pit. Sainz and Gasly pitted the next lap. For Sainz however, on the back of a fastest lap, it was a disillusion as his stop took 12.3 seconds due to a problem with the front left. He rejoined in 6th, behind Ricciardo where he would be stuck until the end of the race.
Leclerc stopped one lap later and thanks to a solid stop maintained the lead, still enjoying a 7s advantage over Bottas.
Three laps later, Hamilton already closed his deficit on Norris and easily passed him at Copse, interestingly on the inside of the corner, something Horner claimed unfeasible when defending Max Verstappen after the first lap incident. A few laps later, Bottas moved over to the other side of the track to allow Hamilton to take second, an interesting contrast to the difficulties he gave his teammate at the Spanish Grand Prix.
As Hamilton went on to challenge Leclerc, Hamilton’s pace saw him reach the Ferrari’s tail at two laps from the end. Again at Copse, Hamilton went for the inside line at Copse, and with nearly the same relative positions they ended up into the corner. However, Leclec went in wider and exited wide, ended up off track and in second place as Hamilton accelerated into the lead.
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez came under investigation after Raikkonen spun in a fight, but followed it up with fastest lap in the penultimate lap, removing that extra point for extra lap that would otherwise go to Lewis Hamilton.
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