Lewis Hamilton wins eighth British Grand Prix in controversial fashion after crash with Max Verstappen
In front of 140,000 fans at Silverstone, Hamilton took the lead for the first time with just three laps to go. Having been more than 10 seconds behind Charles Leclerc at one point, the seven-time world champion cut Copse’s turn to force the Ferrari to pull away and make a mistake.
The highlight of the day on the first lap took place around the same turn. Hamilton started in second place on the grid behind Verstappen and was soon in the midst of an exhilarating brawl with his title rival in Red Bull.
The two men exchanged heads throughout the first lap. By the time they approached Copse, Hamilton had pretty much nudged his nose forward only for Vertsappen to come and yell outside and head for the top of the corner.
Neither man gave in. Hamilton’s left forward came into contact with Verstappen’s right-back. The Briton suffered minor damage. The Dutchman was sent off the track, through gravel and into the tire barrier at a frightening pace.
A red flag interrupted the race while repair work was being carried out on the license. Verstappen waved to the crowd but his race was over.
Hamilton was given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty – the second lightest penalty available to the race marshals. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was furious. The reruns suggested that while both drivers could have done more, it was fair to view this one as a racing incident.
And so Hamilton continued, knowing full well that his tires would eventually need to be changed and that he would have to serve his sentence.
He finally gave in just after halfway and boxed in the 27th round. When he emerged he was 35.44 seconds off the lead with Leclerc still in the pits.
Once Leclerc joined the scene from his own reload, Hamilton pushed even harder. He set a new fastest lap on the 31st and again on the 39.
He passed his teammate Valterri Bottas with 11 laps to go and just over eight seconds between him and the Ferrari on the road. This gap has been eroded by the turn.
His movement to take control of the race was both astonishing and inevitable, such was the ascendancy he showed in the finals.
“It’s extremely overwhelming,” said Hamilton. “It was such a physically difficult race with the best crowd. A home crowd is best. It is a dream to do this in front of all of you.
Reflecting on his collision with Verstappen, he said: “I gave it my all this week. I always try to be measured in battles with Max and he is aggressive.
“I was completely by his side and he didn’t give me the space, but whether I agreed with the penalty or not, I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of the national anthem and the British flag.”
Hamilton, already a contender for the greatest the sport has ever seen, hosted a masterclass on how to chase a win out of dire straits. Claiming victory after a 10 second penalty is nothing short of remarkable. That he did it with a loud crowd at home only adds to the narrative.