Return to form: an in-depth look at the British Grand Prix

By Rory FH Smith | 26 Aug 2021 | Sport, Speed

As Lewis Hamilton conquers Silverstone at the British Grand Prix, we take a look at the drama of the track

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For the past few years, Formula One has been lacking a certain something. While the Netflix series Drive to Survive kept the F1 flame burning bright by bringing to life the personalities behind the visors, the on-track action has been lacking the kind of unpredictability that makes the sport so brilliant to watch.

Gone were the days of heroic drivers battling wheel-to-wheel on track and in came the predictable and clinical, albeit impressive, consistency from the likes of Mercedes-Benz AMG and its frontman Lewis Hamilton. But, refreshingly, Formula One appears to have turned a corner this season, with the welcome return of a heated and high-profile rivalry and a sensational British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

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Enter the established cool, calm and collected defending multi-champion Lewis Hamilton and the young, aggressive underdog Max Verstappen, desperate to clinch his first World Championship title. Since the start of the 2021 season, from the first race in Bahrain, our two protagonists have been battling it out every round, jostling for position and lunging for the lead on every possible occasion. While their rivalry had always been fierce, it had also been respectful – until it all boiled over on the iconic Silverstone circuit on the Sunday of this year’s British Grand Prix.

Starting on pole position, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led Hamilton for the first corners of the race until defending champion Hamilton tried to take the lead up the inside of Copse corner. After making contact with Verstappen’s rear wheel, the Red Bull driver was sent sideways at speed into the barrier, ending his race in the opening seconds. Punished for the incident, Hamilton received a 10-second penalty, but it did nothing to prevent the British driver from claiming his record eighth home soil victory.

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“I tried to give him the space, but I was quite a long way up the inside into [corner] nine, and none of us backed out and that was the end result,” said Hamilton in the aftermath of the race. “When someone’s too aggressive, these things are bound to happen. There’s not really much more for me to say – hope he’s okay, because of course I would love to have a wheel- to-wheel battle for the whole race, I enjoy racing with him... but I will never back down from anyone and I will not be bullied into being less aggressive.”

Belgian-Dutch driver Verstappen was rushed to hospital after a hefty hit with the wall, receiving the all-clear shortly after. When the celebrations had died down, the championship hopeful was livid after losing the lead in what looked to be an easy win over his main championship rival.

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“Glad I’m okay. Very disappointed with being taken out like this,” Verstappen tweeted after the race. “The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations while in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour but we move on.”

With relations between both drivers at an all- time low and the battle for the championship nearing the halfway mark, expect more sparks to fly between our two protagonists as the ten-sion continues to rise for the remainder of the season. Until then, we can all appreciate Formula One’s return to real racing, ruthless rivalries and rousing action both on and off the track.