Verstappen's series lead was slashed after a dramatic shunt
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F1

Max Verstappen's championship battle tightens up after Silverstone

The Red Bull Racing Honda star retains his championship lead after a British Grand Prix exit that will be talked about for quite some time.
By Matthew Clayton
Published on
Part of this story

FIA Formula One World Championship

British Grand Prix 2021

United Kingdom

Max Verstappen

NetherlandsNetherlands

Sergio Pérez

MexicoMexico

Pierre Gasly

FranceFrance

Yuki Tsunoda

JapanJapan
Red Bull Racing Honda's Max Verstappen started on pole position for the fourth straight Grand Prix. In the sweltering British sunshine and with 140,000 fans on hand, the scene was set for a showstopping start, but it was a start that unfortunately stopped suddenly for Verstappen after he and title rival Lewis Hamilton made contact on the first lap. Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision, but went on to win his home race.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing Honda at the British Grand Prix on July 18, 2021.
Verstappen and Hamilton's colossal battle began at Turn 1
After the Mercedes driver made the marginally better getaway from the front of the grid, the capacity Silverstone crowd were enthralled as F1's two modern-day titans ferociously fought for the lead. The two cars entered the high-speed Turn 9 side by side, but only Hamilton's exited it, with Verstappen crashing heavily into the outside barrier after contact between the pair. The Dutchman was unsurprisingly winded and was later taken to a local hospital for precautionary checks.
After a 35-minute delay for the trackside barrier to be repaired, the incident was investigated, and race stewards gave Hamilton a 10-second time penalty to be served at his first pit stop.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc raced impeccably from the front once the race resumed, and looked to have enough in reserve to snap Ferrari's 33-race winning drought until Hamilton, who served his 10-second penalty at his pit stop on lap 27, surged late, aided by Mercedes asking team-mate Valtteri Bottas to move aside as the Finn battled with wearing tyres.
Leclerc fought on gamely, but Hamilton had too much speed up his sleeve and took the lead for the first time all race with just two laps remaining, capitalising on Verstappen's absence to propel Mercedes back into drivers' and constructors' championship contention.
Sergio Pérez managed to finish in 16th position, after having to start the race from the pit lane. After the restart, he had fought his way up to ninth, but pitted towards the end for a new set of soft tyres and was able to claim the fastest lap.
Here's how a dramatic day in the championship unfolded at Silverstone.

"Hell of a shunt" for Max

Verstappen had his championship lead sliced to eight points after his first scoreless outing since the penultimate race of 2020, the Sakhir Grand Prix, while Red Bull's five-race run of victories dating back to his success at Monaco was snapped.
Afterwards, team principal Christian Horner made his feelings clear.
"For me, that's a hollow victory," said Horner of Hamilton's win.
"Lewis Hamilton's a seven-time world champion, he shouldn’t be making moves like that. Thank goodness the biggest result for us today is that [Max] is uninjured. He's had to go to hospital for precautionary checks after a 51G accident, so I hope Lewis is very happy with himself."
Horner said Hamilton "stuck a wheel up the inside in a corner where you just know you don't do that."
"He was nowhere near ahead, it was contact left front [tyre] to right rear [tyre], and the speed that they're travelling, it's one of the fastest corners in the championship," he added.
"Lewis has got more than enough experience to know that that's unacceptable. I'm just very disappointed that a driver of his calibre should make such a move as that. It's dangerous, it looked desperate and he's put a competitor – thank goodness uninjured – in hospital.
"It was a hell of a shunt, probably the biggest of his career."

Pérez provides a crumb of comfort

It was a tough day on the other side of the Red Bull Racing Honda garage too, with Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Pérez also going home pointless after an action-packed afternoon that went awry 24 hours earlier, when he spun during Saturday's sprint race (more of which later) and was forced to retire, starting Sunday's race proper from the pit lane.
The Mexican flew through the field in the early going as the only driver to start on hard tyres, and points at the back-end of the top 10 looked a possibility even after a second stop with 16 laps remaining. But contact with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen put paid to those plans, and he pitted for fresh rubber in an attempt to snare fastest lap to deny Hamilton an extra world championship point, which he duly did on Lap 50.
Sergio Pérez of Red Bull Racing Honda at the British Grand Prix on July 18, 2021.
Pérez used a slick late stop to steal fastest lap
Pérez's 16th-place finish dropped him from third to fifth in the drivers' standings as McLaren's Lando Norris (who finished fourth) and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas (third) leapfrogged him, while Red Bull's first non-score as a team since the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix of 2020 saw its gap over Mercedes in the constructors' championship sliced to four points.

Tsunoda's point, Gasly's pain

Scuderia AlphaTauri retained fifth place in the constructors' championship by the barest possible margin after Yuki Tsunoda came home 10th at Silverstone, the Japanese rookie's one point seeing the team hold off Aston Martin by that same margin (49-48) in the teams' race.
Tsunoda scored for the fourth time this season and ran longer than any other driver (Lap 30) in his opening stint to advance from 16th on the grid, consolidating his 14th place in the drivers' standings.
Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri at the British Grand Prix on July 18, 2021.
Tsunoda's tenacity was rewarded with a championship point
Three seconds behind Tsunoda at the finish was his luckless team-mate Pierre Gasly, who looked set to recover from what he called his "worst performance of the year" after qualifying 12th to finish 11th, a late-race puncture necessitating an unwanted and unscheduled third pit stop. It was only the third time this season the Frenchman has failed to score points.

Wise old heads shine in brand-new sprint

Sunday's dramatic first lap stole the bulk of the headlines, but the 1045th Grand Prix in Formula One history broke new ground with Saturday's sprint race – the first time a race had been used to set the grid for the GP proper 24 hours later.
Pipped in qualifying by Hamilton on Friday evening, Verstappen was on fire – quite literally, given there were flames spewing out of his front left brakes before the start – of the sprint on Saturday, vaulting past the Mercedes soon after the lights went out and controlling the 17-lap dash thereafter. At a tick over 25 minutes, it was the slowest pole position time in F1 history by some distance, but the Dutchman didn’t mind one bit – even if he was a little perplexed as to precisely how he should feel afterwards.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing Honda at the British Grand Prix on July 18, 2021.
Verstappen took the spoils in F1's first-ever sprint qualifying
"It sounds a bit funny to hear 'you scored a pole position', but anyway, we'll take it," he said.
"I was not sure going into Turn 3 if my brakes were going to work, but luckily it didn’t do too much damage. I think I saw a few people on the grandstand making pictures when the brakes were on fire, for sure there will be a good few shots there …".
Points were allocated for the first three finishers on Saturday, with Verstappen adding three to his season tally – Hamilton two for second, and his team-mate Bottas one for third, which was where the Finn started.
After a chaotic first lap that saw cars regularly wheel-banging and exchanging paint, and finished with Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) way down the field after contact with George Russell's Williams that earned the British driver a three-place grid penalty for Sunday. The sprint race then became largely processional, most drivers electing to err on the side of caution when balancing risk versus reward.
For a format designed to promote something different that might appeal to a younger audience, it escaped few that Formula One's two 'greybeards', 41-year-old Räikkönen and Alpine's Fernando Alonso (40 later this month) made up the most places in the sprint race (four each), Alonso providing the biggest jolt of electricity when he jumped from 11th to fifth on the opening lap.

Max's tall order

Having had his championship lead slashed, Verstappen's powers of recovery will be instantly tested at the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix (August 1), the 11th round of the 23-race campaign which doubles as the final outing before the mid-season break.
Red Bull has managed just two wins (Mark Webber in 2010 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2014) at the tight, twisty circuit on the outskirts of Budapest; by contrast, the Hungaroring is Hamilton heaven. The seven-time world champion has won the race on eight occasions, the equal-most times one driver has won a single Grand Prix in F1 history with Michael Schumacher (eight wins at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours) and, after Sunday, Hamilton himself at Silverstone.
Part of this story

FIA Formula One World Championship

British Grand Prix 2021

United Kingdom

Max Verstappen

NetherlandsNetherlands

Sergio Pérez

MexicoMexico

Pierre Gasly

FranceFrance

Yuki Tsunoda

JapanJapan