Max Verstappen’s Uncompromising Race Craft Gift’s British Grand Prix To Lewis Hamilton
The Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton battle for the world drivers championship reached breaking point at the 2021 British Grand Prix. The weekend began with a new qualifying format and despite qualifying on pole Hamilton lost out to Verstappen in the qualifying sprint race which reset the grid for Sunday. Sounds confusing? The new qualifying format is both a reward and punishment. It’s on a trial phase for a few races this year. But as we always say, Sunday is where the main points are won or lost. And Max Verstappen needlessly lost a certain win because he has an uncompromising, no retreat no surrender race craft. It works 98 percent of the time, but when you are fighting for the world championship against Lewis Hamilton you have got to be precise and have an equal amount of spatial awareness. And you can not assume that a 7-times world champion is easily intimidated.
On the opening lap, Verstappen (1st) and Hamilton (2nd) battled it out wheel to wheel, fair but firm. Hamilton knew he had about three maybe five laps to assume the lead before his tyres would degrade and lose the advantage. The opening lap tussle was like watching the Chariot race from the 1959 movie Ben Hur. Verstappen the Massala to Hamilton’s Juda Ben Hur. Hamilton got a significant tow from the Red Bull in the run-up to Copse, Verstappen weaved to the left, Hamilton dummied to the right. Verstappen squeezed Hamilton as much as he could as they approached Copse at up to 190mph. The Red Bull and Mercedes entered Copse flat out, side by side, Hamilton on the inside Verstappen on the racing line.
Hamilton’s angle of entry into Copse meant he had a negative apex, in effect, it is the slowest way to navigate the high-speed corner. This meant Hamilton had to back off at some point and he did, perhaps a little bit too late. Equally, Verstappen would have known Hamilton was somewhere close to his right/rear flank. Verstappen should have the spatial awareness to give Hamilton room for his own safety as much as Hamilton’s. But it seems he gambled into intimidating the Mercedes driver and it cost the Red Bull its a right rear tyre, a visit across the gravel trap and onwards into the tyre barrier beyond.
It was a huge crash, the impact alone registered 51G. Verstappen survived bruised and maybe a little confused. The race was stopped for over 20 minutes to fix the crash barrier and clear the Red Bull, its left side damaged beyond repair. The stewards adjudged Hamilton to be at fault and handed the Mercedes driver a 10-second penalty. Charles Leclerc was the main beneficiary of the Verstappen vs Hamilton war and was on pole at the restart. Initially, Hamilton couldn’t find a way past the Ferrari until he pitted for fresh tyres on lap 28 of 52.
Ten-second penalty added during the pitstop, Hamilton rejoined in 5th and fought his way back into the lead two laps from the end. Charles LeClerc fought bravely but after his pitstop the Ferrari began to lose faith in its hard set of tyres. In the end, there was nothing Leclerc could do to fend off the faster Mercedes. Hamilton deserved victory, he fought like a titan but victory was overshadowed by the first lap incident. Should Hamilton have backed out earlier? yes almost certainly. But he saw the gap and went for it.
Should Verstappen have had the spatial awareness and the courtesy to give Hamilton room? When it involves high-speed corners absolutely yes. To beat Hamilton, speed is not enough, having a faster car will never do. For Hamilton, it is a game of chess and Verstappen brought a hammer to the table. The truth is Verstappen has got to bring his smartest strategy to the game. It is as simple as that. And that is why Verstappen ended his 2021 British Grand Prix in the tyre barriers.
2021 British Grand Prix Results: Silverstone
|4||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||52||+28.573s||12|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||52||+42.624s||10|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||52||+72.093s||6|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||52||+74.289s||4|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||52||+76.162s||2|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA||52||+82.065s||1|
|11||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||52||+85.327s||0|
|12||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||51||+1 lap||0|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||51||+1 lap||0|
|14||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||51||+1 lap||0|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||51||+1 lap||0|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA||51||+1 lap||0|
|17||9||Nikita Mazepin||HAAS FERRARI||51||+1 lap||0|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||51||+1 lap||0|
|NC||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||40||DNF||0|
|NC||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||0||DNF||0|