SILVERSTONE, England — Lewis Hamilton roared back from a first-lap incident that sent championship leader Max Verstappen to the hospital and overcame a 10-second penalty to win the British Grand Prix and reignite his title defense Sunday.
The seven-time champion won at his home track to snap a run of five races without a victory. He had dropped from second to fifth after he served his penalty, picked up two spots when he returned to the track and then Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was ordered to move out of Hamilton’s way.
It gave him 11 laps to chase down leader Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari, and Hamilton made the pass for the win with just two laps to go — and on the same corner where he had tangled with Verstappen. The British driver was cheered on to his eighth career victory at Silverstone by the passionate home fans, who also gave him a standing ovation.
Hamilton, who then drove a victory lap brandishing the British flag, cut the gap to Verstappen in the drivers’ championship from 33 points to seven.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2021
“What a great job guys. Thank you so much for continuing to push this year, I am so inspired by you guys. There’s a long way to go but I believe in you guys,” Hamilton said after the race.
Then he climbed the rail and ran toward the grandstands waving the flag to his adoring crowd.
Verstappen crashed out of the race when a spirited first-lap battle with Hamilton sent the Dutchman spinning hard into a barrier.
The race was red-flagged to allow for repairs to the tire barrier. Verstappen, wobbly as he climbed from his car, was initially seen in the Silverstone medical center but then transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Verstappen beat Hamilton at the start for the second day in a row at Silverstone and the two title contenders furiously zigzagged for position. The drivers touched at least twice as Hamilton tried to slip past Verstappen for the lead.
Hamilton’s front wheel touched Verstappen’s rear wheel the second time the drivers made contact, and the Red Bull careened off course, through the gravel and into the tire barrier. A tire from Verstappen’s car bounced off the car during the spin.
Verstappen was slow to get out of his car but waved to the crowd as he headed to the medical center. Red Bull head Christian Horner said Verstappen was being held 30 minutes for observation.
Hamilton said after Saturday’s historic sprint qualifying race the key to stopping Verstappen was getting the lead from him at the start of the race. But Verstappen once again was too fast at lights out and pulled to the front.
The crowd roared as local favorite Hamilton looked inside of Verstappen, then outside, trying desperately to get around his rival until the contact ended the battle. Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari took over the lead and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sprinted to race control to argue against any penalty to his driver.
Hamilton told his Mercedes team the position in the corner was his and he was not to blame.
“I was ahead going in there, man,” Hamilton radioed. “I was fully alongside him, my line. Yeah, he turned in on me, man”
Red Bull disagreed.
“That’s an enormous accident and it was 100% Max’s corner,” Horner told race control. “As far as I’m concerned, full blame lies on Hamilton. You could have had a massive accident and thank God he walks away unscathed. I hope you are going to deal with it properly.”