Was Hamilton actually responsible for the Verstappen collision?
SILVERSTONE, England — The mud will not choose the British Grand Prix for some time.
The collision between title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone was not solely a big second on this 12 months’s championship, but additionally be a defining second in what appears to be like set to change into certainly one of F1’s most legendary rivalries.
Simply as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost are remembered for his or her collisions at Suzuka in 1989 and 1990 and Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill for his or her conflict in Adelaide in 1994, the 2021 British Grand Prix will probably be remembered because the day when the gloves got here off between Hamilton and Verstappen.
And as was the case with the earlier examples, there was a component of inevitability to Sunday’s accident. For the primary 9 races of the season, the battle between Verstappen and Hamilton had been brewing with wheel-to-wheel motion in Bahrain, Imola, Portimao, Barcelona and France, however the explosive nature of the incident, which resulted in Verstappen being helicoptered to hospital for precautionary checks, was nonetheless stunning.
-Horner calls Hamilton ‘beginner’, says he endangered Verstappen
-Verstappen calls Hamilton’s celebrations disrespectful
The argument over whether or not Hamilton was responsible divided opinion within the paddock on Sunday night time — as did the 10-second penalty issued by the stewards that Hamilton overcame to win the race.
Understandably, Verstappen was upset by the result — though unable to talk on to the media — whereas his workforce principal at Pink Bull, Christian Horner, was downright livid.
“Putting a fellow driver in hospital, writing off the car, and receiving a menial penalty and winning the grand prix doesn’t feel like much of a penalty,” Horner mentioned. “I think it just felt like a desperate move from Lewis.
“He misplaced the beginning, received down the straight, wheel banging with Max down there, then to stay a wheel up the within of Copse nook, one of many quickest corners within the championship, just about flat out, 180 mph, there’s solely ever going to be one consequence like that.
“It’s just disappointing from a seven-time world champion that he makes such a desperate move and puts a fellow driver in hospital.”
Mercedes countered these arguments by citing the information the stewards are alleged to observe to find out blame in such incidents as proof Hamilton was not at fault (though by Sunday night the workforce had the outcome it needed, that means the vocabulary was slightly much less forceful).
“We didn’t think the penalty was deserved,” Mercedes’ head trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin mentioned. “If you look at the guide that the stewards have to determine who is at fault in terms of overtaking, Lewis was sufficiently alongside and we felt that Max should have given him racing room.
“In the event you take a look at the dash race and even the opening lap of the principle race, Lewis was continuously having to again out of it to keep away from a collision and he was capable of put his automobile right into a place the place he was capable of stand his floor. Max drives aggressively and it is inevitable that someday we have been going to get an accident there.
“But we were pleased with the job that Lewis did and slightly disappointed to get the penalty, we were just relieved we were still able to win the race.”
Luckily, Verstappen was unhurt within the accident and was given a clear invoice of well being later within the night, however the ramifications of Sunday’s race will probably be lengthy lasting.
After profitable the race, Hamilton benefited from a 25-point swing within the drivers’ championship whereas Mercedes benefited from a 40-point swing in within the constructors’ championship. However above all else, the depth of the battle for each titles this 12 months has ramped up considerably.
Who was responsible?
The incident itself was the end result of half a lap of laborious and quick racing, however had a few of its roots in the day prior to this’s dash race.
Saturday’s dash, the primary of its type in Components One, set the grid for Sunday’s race and noticed Verstappen take pole place from Hamilton with an overtaking transfer on the first nook. Hamilton tried to battle again later within the opening lap of the dash, however he ended up on the skin of Copse nook, the identical nook they collided at on Sunday, and was pressured to again out.
Though a lap of Silverstone facilitates overtaking for the primary eight corners, positions are sometimes determined by the 180 mph Copse nook, as it’s then adopted by a high-speed sequence generally known as Maggots, Becketts and Chapel, which is sort of all the time single file.
On Saturday, Hamilton had no selection however to again off on the strategy to Copse as Verstappen had the within line and was capable of defend. But it surely grew to become obvious to the Mercedes driver from that incident that he had a straight-line pace benefit on the previous straight and, maybe, if the identical scenario performed out on Sunday, he may use that benefit to power his method up the within.
“[On Saturday] I went down the left-hand side and I really regretted not going for the gap that was down the right-hand side and so I dummied him, moved to the left and then moved to the right for that gap,” Hamilton mentioned after the race.
“I was pretty far up alongside him but I then could see he wasn’t going to back-out and we went into the corner and then we collided. Of course, that’s never the way I ever want to win a race or just in general to race but these things do happen.”
Mercedes’ information additionally indicated that the Honda engine within the Pink Bull was not deploying the complete power from its hybrid system via the flat-out Copse nook, whereas the Mercedes’ energy unit was. That was one other further little edge Hamilton knew he would have on Sunday if the 2 have been combating on the strategy to the nook.
However Hamilton additionally knew that if he failed to achieve the place on the opening lap at Copse, as was the case on Saturday, it will be extremely troublesome to chase down and go the Pink Bull over the rest of the race. It was a vital alternative that will not have appeared once more.
“I think he knew exactly that,” Horner mentioned. “He hadn’t managed it down the Wellington Straight, I think he was wound up by yesterday’s result and I think, the atmosphere, the crowd and everything, he was obviously pretty motivated and made a massive misjudgement.
“Sure, he received a penalty for it, however it’s pretty meaningless. That was his solely alternative I believe. He knew had Max come via that nook he won’t have seen him once more for the afternoon. For me it was a determined transfer that fortunately did not have worse penalties than a written off automobile and a bruised and battered driver.”
On Sunday, Hamilton got himself in position on the inside on the approach to Copse and alongside Verstappen. However, as they approached the corner, the Mercedes driver’s tightened angle meant he had to back out more than Verstappen before turning in. That meant that as the two cars committed to the corner, Hamilton was slightly behind Verstappen, which is why his front left tyre made contact with Verstappen’s front right.
In the stewards’ ruling of the incident, which found Hamilton predominantly to blame, they referenced Hamilton’s distance from the apex when the collision occurred as the reason the Mercedes driver was at fault. That’s hard to argue against as onboard footage shows Hamilton is unlikely to get close to the black and white painted kerbs on the inside of the corner, with or without the contact. Yet Verstappen was equally committed to the corner and, from Hamilton’s perspective, cuts across in front of the Mercedes.
The document Shovlin refers to in the quote above that is used by the stewards as a guide to such incidents suggests that if a driver has the inside line and is significantly alongside his rival, as Hamilton was, then he is within his rights to attempt a move providing he can “make the nook cleanly”.
Although the document, seen by ESPN, is fairly basic and is intended as a guide for lower speed corners than Copse, the stewards could still argue that by missing the apex by the amount Hamilton did and colliding with Verstappen, he did not make the corner cleanly. However, no reference to that guidance was made in the stewards’ report on the incident.
It was interesting, however, that Charles Leclerc, who was running third at the time and was directly behind the accident, felt it should have been treated as a racing incident.
“I believe it is a racing incident,” he said. “It is fairly troublesome to place the blame on one or the opposite.
“Obviously there was space on the inside. Maybe Lewis was not completely at the apex but it’s also true that Max was quite aggressive on the outside. So, things happen, so what is the most important today is that Max is unharmed and is fine.”
Nonetheless, it is very important bear in mind that only a few individuals on the earth know what it is prefer to drive these automobiles on the restrict and even skilled drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, who has been racing in F1 for 10 years, wrestle to name an incident as nuanced as Sunday’s.
“It is hard,” Ricciardo mentioned. “They are racing for the championship and they are racing so hard. And look like Max gave him room, but when you come so close in these high-speed corners you lose downforce.
“Clearly nothing was intentional however you could possibly see that Lewis understeered into him, I am undecided whether it is being investigated. However the principle factor is that hopefully Max is kind of okay.”
Later in the race Hamilton completed a similar move on Leclerc for the lead without contact, although Leclerc ran wide and off the road after leaving Hamilton space. Although no two incidents are the same, Hamilton suggested that Verstappen should have acted in a similar way on lap one.
“Firstly, Charles was very respectful when it comes to leaving a spot,” Hamilton said. “I received someplace alongside him so he knew that I used to be there however he stayed dedicated and simply did a wider line and he practically stored it [on the track] and that was actually nice racing.
“I think for me in that moment, I backed out at one point just to make sure that we didn’t come together but I think it was just a really nice balance and I think that’s really how the racing should go and close. In a perfect world, that’s what would have happened in the first attempt but different time, different place, different driver.”
Leclerc added: “I knew Lewis was in the inside, I left a space and unfortunately I think I had stayed in front but in the very end of the corner I got a snap and lost a little bit of time and then Lewis got in front of me.”
Hamilton went on to safe the victory in entrance of his residence crowd and 25 essential factors that closes the hole to Verstappen to simply eight within the drivers’ championship. The outcome adopted 5 consecutive Pink Bull victories in a interval when Verstappen’s automobile seems to be getting stronger and Mercedes has admitted to turning off improvement on Hamilton’s.
But it surely’s not a lot the maths of the title battle because the added pressure that would be the focus when F1 reconvenes in Budapest in two weeks’ time. Earlier than being launched from hospital, Verstappen tweeted that the penalty didn’t “do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track” and adopted up by saying “watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour”.
Hamilton responded in his personal put up on social media, saying the race was “a reminder of the dangers we face in the sport” whereas sending his “best wishes” to Verstappen and calling him an “incredible competitor”.
Good phrases from the seven-time champion, however ones that shouldn’t be confused with an apology.
“I saw a quick clip of it when I went back to the garage but I naturally will go back and have time to reflect on it,” Hamilton mentioned instantly after the race. “I don’t think, from my current understanding, that I’m in a position to have to apologise for anything. We’re out there racing.
“I heard that Max is in hospital and that positively issues me. None of us ever need any of us to ever get injured, that is by no means my intention, so I actually hope that he is OK.
“I’ll hit him up after this just to check that he’s OK and we live to fight another day. There’ll be a lot of tough races coming up and we have to learn to strike a decent balance. I don’t agree with stewards but I take my penalty on the chin and get on with my job. I’m not going to whine about it.
“Everybody’s going to have a distinct opinion. I do not actually notably care what individuals suppose so I simply do what I do and I am actually grateful for right this moment.”
We’re now ten races into the 2021 season, however this one is just simply getting began.