Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton shortened the championship lead between rival Red Bull Racing at the British Grand Prix July 18.
It was Hamilton’s first victory since the Spanish Grand Prix two months ago, but there was major controversy after he caused a collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the very first lap of the race.
That collision sent Verstappen to the barrier and the impact was enough to send him to the hospital to check on his well-being.
The Mercedes racer received a 10-second penalty after investigation from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner was very displeased with Hamilton’s actions, saying that it was “unacceptable” and accused the 4-time defending champion of “dirty driving.”
“The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track,” Verstappen said on Twitter. “Watching the celebrations while still in the hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior.”
This incident added to an already rough weekend for Red Bull Racing as Sergio Perez spun out in Sprint Qualifiers on July 17 and could only obtain one point for the fastest lap during race day.
The penalty Hamilton received gave Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a 10-second lead in the Grand Prix. Ahead of Hamilton was teammate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
But Leclerc was not able to hold onto the lead as a charging Hamilton overtook the Ferrari driver with three laps to go. He finished second while Hamilton came back after the penalty sent him down the ranks as far as fourth place.
Hamilton is now eight points behind Verstappen’s lead while Mercedes is now four points behind Red Bull for the Constructors Championship.
“We’ve got the best crowd here,” Hamilton said in an interview. “It’s a dream to win in front of them all.”
Although frustrated, Leclerc finished on the podium for the first time this season.
“It’s difficult to enjoy 100%,” he said. “I gave it my all but it was not enough in the last two laps. The team is working incredibly well and I’m incredibly proud of them.”
The mid-field battle between AlphaTauri and Aston Martin has gotten more intense after this race, with the gap for fifth between the teams now at one point.
Pierre Gasly was given the black and white flag for track limits and was unable to get points for AlphaTauri, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda was only able to get one point by finishing 10th.
For Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel had a spin-out and didn’t finish the race. Fortunately, Lance Stroll finished eighth, scoring three points for the team in the process.
This race added tension to the Mercedes vs. Red Bull rivalry. Both groups are willing to do whatever they can to be at the top of the championship standings and this race felt no different.