Why Hamilton's race-winning pass avoided Verstappen repeat - The Race
Formula 1

Why Hamilton’s race-winning pass avoided Verstappen repeat

Jul 18 2021
By Scott Mitchell

Lewis Hamilton’s race-winning move on Charles Leclerc threatened a last-gasp repeat of the contact that sent Max Verstappen flying into the barriers on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.

Formula 1 title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen collided on lap one when Hamilton attacked on the run to Copse.

Verstappen defended tightly and pinned Hamilton to the inside, then moved back to the left as the Mercedes driver refused to yield.

Hamilton insisted he was ahead into the corner, while Red Bull raged that he was never close to being in front. The reality is that Hamilton did draw alongside.

Verstappen recognised that, which is why in addition to moving left he also made a small correction after he started turning in for the corner. That opened it up fractionally and gave Hamilton a little extra room – but the line Verstappen was still on into Copse indicates he was expecting Hamilton to back out.

Hamilton didn’t, and crucially his own entry was slightly wide, so he was missing the apex.

That meant, despite lifting, Hamilton strayed out of the small space Verstappen had gambled on Hamilton staying in – or expected to force Hamilton to yield – and they made contact.

Verstappen was sent into the barriers with an estimated impact of 51G while Hamilton was able to continue. He was given a 10-second penalty having been deemed to have caused the collision.

Roughly two hours later, Hamilton was celebrating victory after catching and passing long-time leader Leclerc on the inside at the same corner.

While the move looked almost identical there were key differences that avoided a repeat of the controversial first-lap crash.

These were that Hamilton was never forced to approach the corner as tightly, that Leclerc did not turn into the apex as aggressively, and that Hamilton kept his car closer to the apex.

Leclerc did partially defend but not as much as Verstappen, which gave Hamilton a slightly wider entry into the corner.

Hamilton did not back out of the move but lifted, like he did against Verstappen, but unlike before was able to keep his car closer on a tighter line – possibly because this time it was not fully loaded with fuel and the tyres were up to temperature.

Leclerc also had a wide line on entry and seemed to have a marginally wider initial turn-in point too.

He then ended up running completely wide with a mid-corner wobble. But the two cars had avoided contact by this stage.

While Hamilton was penalised for the Verstappen clash, the successful nature of the Leclerc pass shows that the move was on.

Both Hamilton and Leclerc played a part in it not ending in disaster – just like both Hamilton and Verstappen played a part in why it ended so badly the first time.

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