The penultimate round before the summer break of the 2021 F1 Season got held at the iconic circuit of Silverstone. Silverstone, the home of the British GP, had served up exciting races in the past and was the first venue to hold "the new format for a race weekend" that got announced by the FOM earlier in the season. A majority of the teams had the British GP as their home race. The stands were full of spectators for the second time in 2021.
So what were the changes in the new format?
Twelve sets of dry tyres were available for each driver - six softs, four mediums and two hards for the entire weekend.
The British GP would feature a revamped schedule with Friday featuring only one practice session, followed by Qualifying, which would decide the grid for the F1 Sprint on Saturday. Friday Practice would last for 60 minutes, while Qualifying would follow the same format as a regular race weekend. Parc-Ferme conditions would get imposed before Qualifying. Drivers had access to only the soft tyres ( four from their allocation ) for Qualifying, with those making it into Q3 getting an extra set. The timings for the sessions got pushed back to later in the day to accommodate more viewership.
The term "Pole Position" got replaced by "the Fastest Qualifier".
Saturday would feature another 60-minute Practice Session, followed by an F1 Sprint later in the day. The F1 Sprint was the star attraction from the weekend, with drivers lining up based on their Qualifying results from Friday.
The F1 Sprint followed a shorter race format, a total distance of 100 km ( 17 laps ), lasting 25-30 minutes. Drivers had free tyre choice and were not obligated to make a pit stop. The Sprint Race winner would bag Pole Position, and the results of the Sprint would decide the grid for the main Grand Prix on Sunday. The winner of the Sprint would get 3 points, second and third would get two and one points respectively. There would be no podium celebrations after the F1 Sprint. If a driver failed to finish the Sprint due to an accident, the teams could change parts ( different spec allowed ) for the Grand Prix.
Sunday would feature the main event - The British Grand Prix over 52 laps, with points getting awarded to the top 10 drivers ( regular format ). The intriguing aspect of the weekend was that all 20 drivers would have a free tyre choice at the start of both the F1 Sprint and the Grand Prix.
More Details about the New Race Weekend are here:
Leading up to the British GP, the Australian GP got called off due to restrictions and logistical challenges relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Carlos Reutemann, a leading F1 driver in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away aged 79. Lando Norris suffered from a traumatic experience, getting robbed of his Richard Mille McLaren watch after attending the Euro 2020 final, in which the English Football Team came up second-best. McLaren got hit with more bad news after Zak Brown, the CEO, and two other members tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent isolation.
Alfa Romeo announced a multi-year extension of its agreement with Sauber Engineering, with Team Principal Frederic Vasseur getting a free hand to choose his drivers for 2022.
The FOM also unveiled their concept of the 2022 F1 Car under the new regulations.
In 2020, tyre delaminations in the final laps of the race threatened to change the result of the British GP. While Bottas lost a position to Verstappen, Hamilton limped home with three tyres to win the British GP in a dramatic climax.
Come 2021, Mercedes had been playing catchup since the past five races and needed a response at the home race. Hamilton was banking on home advantage and crowd support to get his Championship fight back on track. How did the title battle unfold, and was there another twist in the tale? Time for a recap of the British GP weekend!
Friday Practice :
Free Practice 1, the only Practice Session before Qualifying, and the teams had their work cut out for sixty minutes. Stroll quipped that he didn't feel confident at the wheel of his Aston Martin, while Russell had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. Sainz suffered a spin at the exit of turn three, and Verstappen reported a loss of power at the final two turns on one of his flying laps.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman topped the timesheets at the end of FP1, seven-tenths clear of Norris and Hamilton. Bottas split the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz in 5th, while Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo and Ocon completed the top 10.
The Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Tsunoda were P11 and P12, with Alonso splitting the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P14. Latifi was 16th in his Williams, followed by Schumacher and Stroll. Mazepin and Russell completed the back of the field.
Qualifying for F1 Sprint :
The soft tyres ( C3 ) were the only available choice for all the sessions of Qualifying. Red Bull carried out some setup changes on Verstappen's car before the start of Qualifying. The sun was shining, but the track temperatures were lower than those in FP1.
Q1 got underway, and Ocon, Verstappen and the Aston Martin drivers decided to stay put in the early minutes. The track, however, saw the full quota of cars when ten minutes remained of Q1. Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Perez and Norris were the top 6, with Sainz, Raikkonen, Stroll, Schumacher and Mazepin facing elimination after the first runs.
The lap times started dropping as more rubber got laid on the track, and while Sainz improved to P5, Leclerc made a mistake on the penultimate corner on his flying lap.
For the final runs of Q1, Verstappen and Alonso chose to stay put while the rest of the field emerged with a fresh set of soft tyres. There was a rapid track evolution, and everyone improved on their final runs. Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Latifi and Schumacher got eliminated from Qualifying, while Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz ended as the top 6. Less than a second separated the top 14 drivers at the end of Q1.
Everyone bar Giovinazzi began their first attempt of Q2 on a fresh set of soft tyres. Nine-hundredths of a second separated Hamilton from Verstappen at the top, with Bottas, Perez and Vettel remaining in close contention. Gasly, Russell, Alonso, Stroll and Giovinazzi were in the drop zone at the end of the first runs.
Perez and Vettel opted to not run again in Q2 while the rest of the field tried to better their attempts in the final minutes.
Hamilton went the quickest, three-tenths clear of Verstappen. Russell produced a stellar lap to finish Q2 in P7! Bottas, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Vettel, Ricciardo and Norris were the others who got through to Q3, while Alonso, Gasly, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Stroll suffered elimination. Two-hundredths of a second separated Alonso from Q3, a matter of close margins again.
The Ferrari drivers opted for a used set of soft tyres for their first attempts of Q3. Vettel had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, while Russell decided to go out-of-sync with the rest of the field.
Hamilton discovered newfound pace and went two-tenths clear of Verstappen, with Bottas and Perez a further two-tenths adrift. Verstappen wasn't pleased with the balance of his car and complained about understeer in the final sector. Meanwhile, Russell emerged from the pits on a clear track and set the 7th quickest time amongst loud cheers from his home crowd.
The final minutes of Q3 saw all drivers ( bar Russell ) emerge for the final top-ten shootout with a fresh set of soft.
Hamilton set purple sector times but made a mistake at the Vale chicane. The Briton failed to improve on his previous attempt. Meanwhile, Verstappen set personal best times in sectors one and three but couldn't pip Hamilton to become the Fastest Qualifier. Seven hundredths of a second separated the duo at the end of Q3.
Bottas qualified P3 while Perez had set the 4th quickest time but had his lap deleted for exceeding track limits. The deletion promoted Leclerc to P4, with Perez getting accompanied by Norris on row three of the grid. Ricciardo was P7 in the other McLaren, followed by Russell, Sainz and Vettel, who completed the top 10.
It had been an intense Qualifying, but Hamilton, despite his error, emerged as the first "Fastest Qualifier" in the new format. He had the best opportunity of bagging "Pole Position" for the Grand Prix and three points from the F1 Sprint. As for Verstappen, he had suffered a psychological blow, and the setup changes before Qualifying proved detrimental. Mercedes had stepped up to the challenge and had both its cars in the top 3, while Perez's lap time deletion ( in the end ) compromised Red Bull's plans for the F1 Sprint.
Leclerc had his Ferrari in the mix, but Russell was the star of Qualifying, having finished P8 in a Williams, only a tenth slower than Leclerc in P4.
In a tightly contested midfield, there was no room for errors, and the F1 Sprint race would prove pivotal in "making or breaking" the prospects of a driver and his team on Grand Prix Sunday. However, before that, the drivers would get one more opportunity to practice on Saturday morning.
Saturday Practice :
Saturday Practice ( FP2 ) saw teams attempt race simulations, with tyre options split between their drivers. Tyre choice for the F1 Sprint later in the day was equally important, and some drivers reported blisters even on the medium tyres. Bottas suffered from a spin after the end of FP2 and flat-spotted his soft tyres.
Verstappen topped the timesheets from Leclerc and Sainz. Ocon was P4 for Alpine, followed by Perez and the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo. Hamilton, Bottas and Gasly completed the top 10.
Russell was P11 in his Williams, while Alonso split the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P13. Latifi set the 15th quickest time, from Tsunoda and the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin brought up the rear of the field.
Sainz, Vettel and Mazepin got summoned to the stewards for failing to follow Race Director's instructions with practice starts during FP2. The trio got let off with formal warnings.
F1 Sprint :
The sun was beating down on Silverstone, and track temperatures hit 48 degrees C. It was time for the maiden F1 Sprint of the 2021 F1 Season. Seventeen laps separated the drivers from Pole Position for the British Grand Prix.
The drivers set out on the formation lap, and four drivers chose the aggressive approach by opting for the soft tyres - Bottas, Alonso, Ocon and Raikkonen. Bottas was on a used set of softs. The rest of the field persisted with the mediums, with the Aston Martins starting on previously used tyres.
The drivers lined up on the grid, and smoke was billowing from Verstappen's front brakes.
As the five red lights illuminated and went out, Hamilton was hesitant off the line, but Verstappen timed his launch correctly and took the lead into turn one! Bottas, with his gripper tyres, also had a good launch off the line and pressured Hamilton only to relent at turn one. Meanwhile, Alonso displayed stellar racecraft jumping six positions into P5. Raikkonen, the most experienced driver on the grid, made up four places to end up P13.
Russell and Sainz banged wheels, which sent the latter wide, bumping him down to P18. The incident got flagged for investigation post-session. The Haas cars had a coming together, and Mazepin got spun around. Meanwhile, Perez got past Ricciardo for P7.
Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Alonso, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Vettel and Russell were the top 10 at the end of lap 3.
Hamilton and Verstappen were trading the fastest laps at the front, while Sainz began his recovery with overtakes on Giovinazzi and Stroll for P14. Meanwhile, Norris, who had closed upon Alonso, couldn't get past due to the latter's tactics of "weaving while defending". Alonso's actions got reported to the stewards. Perez was also closing in on Ricciardo when an extra throttle input sent him spinning through the gravel at Maggotts-Becketts. The Mexican avoided hitting the barriers but fell to P19 and had massive flat spots and vibrations on his tyres.
Norris finally got past Alonso for P5 on lap 6, while Verstappen extended his lead at the front to 1.7 seconds. Ricciardo honed in on Alonso and relegated him to P7 on lap 9. The latter tried to fight back using the slipstream, but Ricciardo rebuffed the challenge. Further down the field, Sainz got past Raikkonen for P12. Those who had started on the soft tyres were slowly losing grip and lap times.
Verstappen continued to stretch his lead, and Hamilton asked his team for options to maintain pressure. Both drivers had started to suffer from blistering on the right front tyres. Alonso had now fallen into the clutches of Vettel, who was pressuring him in the battle for P7. Alonso finally got warned by the stewards for "moving under braking". Meanwhile, Sainz overtook Gasly for P11.
Red Bull informed Verstappen that he had a comfortable lead of three seconds over Hamilton, asking him to avoid the kerbs as a fail-safe against tyre delamination. His teammate Perez, who had suffered a spin and had massive vibrations going through the car, got asked to retire. He would get the luxury of changing parts on his car but would start at the back of the grid on race day.
Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and became F1's first sprint winner. The Dutchman scored three points, bagging Pole Position for the British GP. Hamilton was 2nd and scored two points, while Bottas was 3rd for Mercedes and had one point added to his Championship tally.
Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari and would start alongside Bottas. Row 3 was an all-McLaren lineup with Norris and Ricciardo, followed by Alonso and Vettel on row 4. Russell and Ocon completed the top 10.
Sainz qualified P11 in the other Ferrari, followed by Gasly and Raikkonen. Stroll was 14th for Aston Martin, from Giovinazzi and Tsunoda. Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin and Perez completed the back of the field. Whether Perez would start the race from the back of the grid or the pit lane remained to be seen.
Alonso was the star of the F1 Sprint after his opening lap heroics. The top 3 finishers got onto a truck for a "Victory Lap Parade", and Verstappen had a wreath put around him.
Red Bull had finally scored a Pole Position in Silverstone after nine years. Mark Webber was the last Red Bull driver to start on pole at the 2012 British GP. Although Verstappen struggled on Qualifying Friday, his Red Bull was set up better in race mode, and he was the favourite to take the win on Sunday. Hamilton and Bottas had no answer for Verstappen's pace. However, Mercedes had both its cars on the sharp end of the grid, while Perez, the other Red Bull driver, was at the back of the pack.
Tyre wear would prove pivotal in the battle for victory, as seen from the blisters on all tyres at the end of the F1 Sprint.
Leclerc ensured that at least one Ferrari started ahead of both the McLarens, while Sainz hoped to recover more places with an aggressive strategy on Sunday. The battle for P3 in the Constructors' was a hotly contested one, and both McLaren and Ferrari needed their drivers to score big on Sunday. Alpine's decision to start both its drivers on the softs in the F1 Sprint paid dividends, and they hoped to reduce the deficit to Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin. As for Alpha Tauri, Gasly and Tsunoda were in the lower half of the field, the duo facing a long Sunday afternoon. While Vettel continued to go from strength to strength, Stroll failed to find confidence at the wheel of his Aston Martin. However, a lot could change come Sunday.
Russell was the star on Qualifying Friday and remained in the top 10 for the start of the Grand Prix. While Russell got a summons for his clash with Sainz in the F1 Sprint, Sainz was under investigation for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner. Subsequently, Russell got penalized with a three-place grid drop for his coming together with Sainz, having locked up and pushed "another car off track". The resulting sentence demoted Russell to P12. Sainz escaped from a penalty.
Latifi continued to get out-qualified by Russell but had the opportunity of turning things around in the race. Raikkonen, like Alonso, made up places at the start, which put him ahead of his teammate Giovinazzi. It was unlikely that Alfa Romeo would score points on the weekend. Haas F1 was going through a torrid time with its results, and the friction between its two young rookies wasn't helping matters.
Alonso, on his sighting lap, spun out of Woodcote. Thankfully, his Alpine didn't suffer any damage.
Raikkonen had 20 race starts at Silverstone, setting a new record for the most starts by a driver at any circuit.
C1, C2 and C3 were the tyres available for the race, and Pirelli predicted a two-stopper for those on an aggressive strategy.
Everyone, bar Perez, opted to start the race on the medium tyres. The Mercedes, Aston Martin and Haas Cars were on a used set of mediums.
Track temperatures were at an all-time high at 52 degrees C, and teams were concerned with tyre wear.
The five red lights went out, and it was a clean getaway for Verstappen. Hamilton pressured him into turn one but slotted back into 2nd after minor contact. Leclerc jumped Bottas into 3rd. The battle for the lead was not over yet as Hamilton tried to get the tow off Verstappen and challenge him on the Wellington Straight. The duel continued, and they were almost side-by-side going into Copse. Hamilton's left front tyre clipped the right rear of Verstappen's car, leading to immediate suspension damage on the Red Bull and sending Verstappen flying off the track and into the barriers!
Verstappen was out of the race!
Leclerc saw the opportunity and jumped Hamilton going into Maggotts-Becketts. The Safety Car got deployed, and Hamilton reported damage to his car. Meanwhile, Verstappen looked winded from the impact, and the medical car rushed to check on his wellbeing. The Dutchman had suffered a 51G crash, and the FIA medical team surmised that he needed a thorough check-up at a nearby hospital.
Further down the field, the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had made up positions and were up into P9 and P13, respectively. Russell was down to 14th, while Perez stayed P19 and last at the end of the opening lap.
The impact from Verstappen's crashed had damaged the tyre barriers, and the race stewards decided to Red Flag the race, carry out repairs and safely extricate the stricken Red Bull. The collision got flagged for investigation by the stewards, and Hamilton, in his defence, said that Verstappen turned in on him.
There was a series of radio communications between the FIA Race Director Michael Masi and the two teams. The Race Director reiterated that the stewards, and not him, would give a resolution on the matter. In the pit lane, the Mercedes mechanics taped up the damaged components on the front wing and replaced a cracked wheel rim on Hamilton's car. As for Verstappen's car, the Red Bull Mechanics were at the crash site and inspecting the underside. The car was still "live", possibly leaking fluid, and after safety checks, it finally got pulled out of the barriers. The right side of Verstappen's Red Bull suffered damage beyond recognition as it made it's way back to the pits.
The FIA announced a standing start for the restart of the race, and this time, Leclerc had a clean getaway from P1. Hamilton couldn't challenge for the lead, but Norris managed to jump Bottas for P3. Further down the field, Vettel and Alonso were sparring over P6 when Vettel gave too much throttle and spun by himself at Luffield. The German fell back to 19th and last. Meanwhile, Ocon got past Giovinazzi for P10 while Perez was already up to P16.
The stewards decided to give Hamilton a ten-second time penalty for his collision with Verstappen. The Briton was due to serve it during his pitstop, which would compromise his race considerably. On the track, Ocon relegated Raikkonen to P10, and Sainz overtook Alonso for P6. Further down the field, Perez got past Latifi for P15 ( lap 5 ). Leclerc was the fastest man on track as Givoinazzi lost P11 to Gasly.
Vettel and Perez were making their way through the field, with overtakes on Mazepin and Russell for P18 and P13, respectively. Hamilton set the fastest lap as he reduced the deficit to Leclerc to 1.3 seconds. Meanwhile, Raikkonen got track limits warning on lap 8, while Perez got past Giovinazzi for P12.
Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Ocon and Raikkonen were the top 10 at the end of lap 10.
Ferrari informed Sainz that they would switch to either plan B or C, while Leclerc got instructions to switch to plan B ( lap 13 ). Hamilton struggled to stay in touch with Leclerc until the latter reported an engine cut and power loss on lap 15. Ferrari guided Leclerc through some settings changes, but the issue returned a lap later. Bottas was setting blistering lap times as he tried to close in on Hamilton and Leclerc while Hamilton was within DRS range of Leclerc. The issue for Leclerc finally got resolved, and the Monegasque extended his lead at the front to 2 seconds again.
Meanwhile, Gasly got a Black & White Flag for exceeding track limits multiple times. The pit stop window for those on the medium tyres was now open, and Raikkonen, Russell and Vettel pitted for the hard tyres. Perez pitted as well but switched to the mediums. Leclerc set the fastest lap of the race, and Vettel got past Schumacher for P17. While Latifi and Ocon pitted for the hard tyres on lap 20, Perez finally managed to get past Raikkonen for P13.
The McLaren drivers were next to pit for the hard tyres on laps 21 and 22. An issue on the right rear left Norris stationary for 6 seconds during his pit stop.
At the front, Leclerc's engine woes continued with momentary losses of power. Bottas pitted for hard tyres on lap 23, with Mercedes pouncing on the slip up by McLaren with Norris' stop. Sure enough, Bottas emerged from the pits ahead of Norris. The Finn then relegated Alonso to P5, while Ocon lost P12 to Perez, who resumed his charge through the field. Alonso then lost another position to Norris on lap 24.
Giovinazzi and Stroll were the next to pit for the hard tyres on lap 24, rejoining in P15 and P10, respectively.
Leclerc, who had a 2.5 seconds lead at the front, got instructions to not upshift during the engine power cuts. Alonso had run out of grip on his medium tyres and pitted for the hards on lap 25. However, he, too, had a slow stop due to issues on the right rear tyre. He lost a position to Stroll but immediately reclaimed it on track ( P9 ).
Bottas was the fastest man on the track on lap 26, and Mercedes finally asked Hamilton to pit on lap 28 after he reported that his front left tyre had lost all grip. The Briton served his time penalty and exited the pits after having been stationary for 14.5 seconds. Hamilton was now P5 and needed to complete overtakes on track if he wished to take victory at his home race.
A lap later, Sainz and Gasly pitted for the hard tyres. Sainz had an issue with his front left wheel, resulting in a slow stop. The Spaniard rejoined in P6. As for Gasly, his extended stint on the medium tyres helped him jump Raikkonen, and he quickly relegated Ocon to 12th.
Hamilton began his recovery with the fastest lap of the race on lap 30, while Leclerc got the call to pit and switch to the hard tyres. The Monegasque emerged from the pits, still in the race lead! Hamilton got past Norris for P3, while Tsunoda pitted for the hard tyres on lap 31. Hamilton was now catching Bottas while simultaneously eating into Leclerc's lead of 13 seconds.
Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Perez and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 35.
The battle for P5 was hotting up with Sainz closing in on Ricciardo. The Spaniard tried to pressure Ricciardo, but he rebuffed the challenge. Bottas reported to Mercedes that it was impossible to make it to the end on a one-stop strategy if he maintained his current pace. Meanwhile, his teammate was setting blistering lap times in his quest for victory. Further down the field, Perez pitted again for another set of mediums and relegated Vettel to P17 just after his stop ( lap 40 ).
Hamilton was now within a second of Bottas, and team orders got enforced. The drivers swapped positions with minimal time loss on lap 41, freeing Hamilton to go for victory. Leclerc still enjoyed an 8.8 seconds cushion to Hamilton. Meanwhile, Perez got past Latifi for P15 and then Giovinazzi for P14. Vettel, who had spun around at the restart, got told to retire due to issues in his car ( lap 41 ).
Leclerc's lead got cut to 6.5 seconds as Hamilton continued to set blistering lap times. Ferrari instructed Leclerc to switch to the highest engine mode available and go full throttle until the end. Further down the field, Perez completed overtakes on Russell and Tsunoda and was up to P12. He was now pressuring Raikkonen for P11, but the Finn used his experience to rebuff multiple challenges.
The battle for the lead was hotting up as Hamilton continued to lap almost a second quicker than Leclerc, bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds on lap 47. Alpha Tauri detected a puncture on Gasly's car, and the Frenchman got forced to pit. Meanwhile, Perez seemed to have finally gotten past Raikkonen, but the Finn didn't relent and the two tangled at the penultimate turn. The resulting contact sent Raikkonen into a spin, bumping him down to P16 ( lap 48 ). The incident got flagged for investigation, but neither driver got penalized.
The gap at the front was down to a second, and a victory for Hamilton seemed all but certain. The point for the fastest lap seemed destined to go to Hamilton. To counter this, Red Bull pitted Perez for a set of soft tyres, thus denying Hamilton of that point.
Hamilton was now all over Leclerc, and the latter made a mistake going into Copse. Under pressure, Leclerc ran wide, ending up in the runoff and allowing Hamilton to take the lead of the race on lap 50!
Hamilton continued to push and opened up a lead of 2 seconds on Leclerc. Further down the field, Gasly got past Russell for P11, and Perez set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.
Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the British Grand Prix. Leclerc came home in 2nd for Ferrari, while Bottas held onto third to complete a double podium for Mercedes.
Norris and Ricciardo were P4 and P5 for McLaren, the latter unrelenting in defence against Sainz, who finished P6 in the other Ferrari. Alonso was P7 for Alpine, followed by Stroll, Ocon and Tsunoda, who completed the top 10.
Gasly finished just outside the points in P11, with Russell only managing P12 after his heroics on Friday and Saturday. Giovinazzi was P13 for Alfa Romeo, followed by Latifi and teammate Raikkonen. It was a weekend to forget for Perez, who finished in P16, followed by the Haas cars of Mazepin and Schumacher, who completed the classified finishers.
Hamilton won at Silverstone for the 8th time, and it was his 99th Career victory. Verstappen looked set for his 4th straight win, but the tangle with Hamilton on the opening lap wrecked his chances and cut his lead down to only 7 points in the Championship. The F1 World got split over the severity of Hamilton's punishment, considering that Verstappen needed medical assistance at a hospital to treat a possible concussion. Those at the helm in Red Bull even called for a race ban. Hamilton's celebrations post-race got seen as unsportsmanlike, attracting the ire of Verstappen's supporters. The Red Bull driver himself took to social media to make his displeasure known. While Verstappen got taken out on lap 1, Perez had a lacklustre day at the office and failed to score, leaving Red Bull with a cushion of only four points. As for Bottas, Hamilton's teammate, his drive helped Mercedes get a double podium. The Finn played the team game by complying with Mercedes' instructions to let Hamilton by. He jumped to 4th in the Championship, but his challenge for the title was all but over.
Leclerc led the Grand Prix for all laps but two. The Monegasque would have scored a famous victory and looked gutted after finishing P2. Nevertheless, it was his first podium finish of 2021 and a strong result for Ferrari. Sainz's finish in P6 helped Ferrari outscore McLaren by 4 points, reducing the deficit to 16 points in the battle for P3 in the Constructors' Championship. As for McLaren, Norris got denied a podium finish due to his botched pit stop, while Ricciardo managed to fend off Sainz at the end. Norris remains the only driver to score points in every race this season. The performance delta between the two teams seemed to be reducing, and neither team could afford a mediocre weekend from here on.
Alpine edged closer to Aston Martin and Alpha Tauri, with points finishes for both its drivers. Alonso produced a strong drive in P7 while Ocon recovered from his disappointments of Qualifying ( Friday ) to move into a position of contention on race day. Nine points separate three teams in the battle for P5, and like those placed above them, there remained no room for errors. A rare mistake by Vettel denied Aston Martin a double-point finish at Silverstone, but Stroll's P8 salvaged some pride at their home race. The team was able to make up places thanks to a good race strategy, and despite the result, the future looked bright. Meanwhile, Vettel got recognition and respect from the F1 world after he helped the Silverstone staff clear the litter from the stands post-race.
Alpha Tauri had both its drivers in the points until they discovered a puncture on Gasly's car. The Frenchman pitted and charged back up the field to finish in 11th, just outside the points. The Italian outfit left Silverstone with only one point, thanks to Tsunoda. Aston Martin was out on the heels, and the possibility of losing P5 in the Championship looked real.
Russell, after his heroics on Friday and Saturday, struggled to stay in the points on Sunday. However, he continued to outperform his teammate Latifi in the other Williams. A points-finish continued to elude the team as they struggled to find the ideal setups for the race. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen displayed a good race pace, but the latter's efforts got undone after an entanglement with Perez near the end of the race. The strategy adopted by Alfa Romeo remained questionable, and the team lacked outright pace. As for Haas F1, Mazepin outperformed his teammate Schumacher for the first time since the Monaco GP. Their travails at the back of the pack continued with no resolution in sight.
Hamilton and Mercedes reigned supreme on their home turf. The incident and penalty aside, the Briton dug deep to recover and take an unlikely victory against all odds. It was a Champion's drive from the reigning World Champion. However, his tactics and unwillingness to back out of a fight cost Verstappen a big shunt. Verstappen, thankfully, was unhurt from the crash and had two weeks to rest, recuperate and regroup before the next race. The Dutchman, like Hamilton, refused to yield and was on the received end. His lead of 32 points almost got wiped out, and from here on, he needed to play the long game.
Verstappen would come back hard and leave no stone unturned in his quest for the crown. The gloves were off in the title fight, and we could see the tables turn in Hungary.
Would Hamilton hit a century of wins, or would Verstappen return with a vengeance and flatten his opposition to victory?
Time will reveal all at the Hungarian GP!