The British Grand Prix featured no shortage of drama with an opening lap collision between the Formula 1 title protagonists and a late-race dice for the lead.
Ultimately it was Lewis Hamilton who was able to pass Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari with less than three laps to go to win the race, having recovered from a 10-second time penalty for wiping out Max Verstappen on the opening lap.
Our writers decipher the winners from the losers after a thrilling 10th round of the 2021 season:
Hamilton’s 99th F1 career victory will be one that will be remembered for a long time to come. From one perspective, Hamilton won the race at the same corner twice.
Hamilton made a rare error in the placement of his Mercedes on the opening lap, but he came off far better than his championship rival Verstappen who was sent hurtling into the barriers and out of the race. He’d inadvertently just dealt with his toughest competition.
An arguably generous 10-second penalty was handed to Hamilton but he managed it well after a slightly sheepish start to the restarted race. He importantly minimised the damage of the penalty, only losing positions to Lando Norris and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas when he served it.
Norris and Bottas both made it easy for Hamilton but what was not easy was closing down Leclerc in the final laps as he expertly did.
Sure he had the car advantage, but it was a supreme decision to risk it all again at Copse and force the error from Leclerc.
With his title rival out of the race, it would have been easier for Hamilton to settle for second, but he did the opposite and reaped a huge reward by slashing 25 points out of Verstappen’s championship lead. Game on. – Josh Suttill
It wasn’t an actual win, but it so nearly was. And it would’ve been on merit too – helped by the Hamilton/Verstappen clash but not solely down to it.
Leclerc had Hamilton under control in the first stint, even edging away towards the end of it. His suggestion that this came down to the Mercedes being better on the hards than the Ferrari in the closing laps appears accurate. Ferrari really was that close to its first F1 win in 22 months.
He put himself in that position with another supreme qualifying lap on Friday night and then great pace all weekend. The F1 title fight needs this man in it too.
Leclerc understandably looked downcast post-race. He has so much to be proud of and optimistic about, though. – Matt Beer
Mercedes sits just four points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ championship having made (almost) perfect use of a double non-score for its rival.
Hamilton’s opening lap error and heroic recovery both paid dividends for his Mercedes team.
“Never give up,” Toto Wolff exclaimed after Hamilton took the chequered flag, and that’s exactly the mantra that the team and Hamilton adopted after the first lap collision with a fighting drive reminiscent of their victories at Istanbul last year and Hockenheim in 2018.
The team’s upgrades – coupled with its wing levels at Silverstone – also appeared to have brought it closer to Red Bull and there’s plenty of signs that it still has a great chance of maintaining its 100% record in the turbo hybrid-era after all. – JS
The star of F1’s sprint race delivered another solid drive on Sunday to claim his fifth consecutive points finish in seventh place despite a slow pitstop.
The Alpine clearly did not have the pace of the top four teams and it arguably wasn’t as fast as a number of the cars that Alonso finished ahead of.
He made a decisive move on Lance Stroll when he emerged from his pitstop to move into a net-seventh place and he drove a brilliantly managed race until the chequered flag.
His team-mate Esteban Ocon was closer to Alonso’s pace this weekend than in the previous races, but it’s still clear who Alpine’s leading light is. – JS
Although he barely was featured on the TV broadcast, Yuki Tsunoda had a quietly impressive charge from 16th on the grid to nick the final point in 10th place, and finish as the highest-placed Honda-powered runner.
The F1 rookie has had a yo-yo season and AlphaTauri’s pace seemed to be at its weakest at Silverstone with a Q1 exit for Tsunoda on Friday and no progress in Saturday’s sprint race.
Team-mate Pierre Gasly didn’t fare much better, and while he picked up a puncture in the grand prix, Tsunoda bided his time, kept his nose clean and finished in 10th place. No driver inside the top 10 set as quick a final lap as Tsunoda, suggesting he was pushing all the way to the end and hungry for his fourth points finish of the season. – JS
He missed out on the top spot in qualifying on Friday but Verstappen did the perfect job on Saturday to wrestle the grand prix pole position from his chief F1 title rival Hamilton.
And Verstappen appeared to have done enough to withstand strong pressure from Hamilton on the opening lap for the second successive day only for the duo to collide at the Copse right-hander later on the first lap.
Verstappen was sent into the barriers and although he emerged relatively unscathed, his championship lead has been decimated by the incident to just eight points.
Regardless of who you think was at fault for the collision – or if a 10-second penalty was enough for Hamilton – Verstappen is the undeniable biggest loser of the British GP. – JS
Mercedes has plenty to be grateful to Bottas for this weekend after his handy tow of Hamilton in qualifying and then his very swift handover of second place in the race.
So in a sense, this weekend helped Bottas’s quest to keep his seat by proving how useful he is to the team. And George Russell going backwards after his Friday heroics meant the Williams driver didn’t spend the whole weekend looking like he ought to oust Bottas asap.
But the poor starts, the lack of race pace compared to Hamilton, being beaten by a Ferrari… OK, this wasn’t a fun race to be without a drinks system, but it’s that speed disparity that everyone will see and yet again it doesn’t reflect well on Bottas. – MB
Sergio Perez needed a calm and sensible British GP weekend after a messy race at the Red Bull Ring. He had no such thing.
The damage was done by the sprint race spin but his comeback from a pitlane start was uninspiring on Sunday.
Despite plenty of chaos, his charge was only ever going to yield a couple of points at best before he made a second pitstop and collided with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and finished down in 16th place.
On a day when his team-mate was in the barriers, Red Bull really needed Perez to deliver, and his only contribution was stopping Hamilton from earning a single point for fastest lap. – JS
Considering he was nearly last a few corners into the sprint race, an eventual sixth place for Carlos Sainz was a good recovery.
But it’s the comparison to Leclerc that hurts here.
It’s with good reason that The Race writers voted for Ferrari as having the best driver line-up on the 2021 grid ahead of the season. There are some pretty big style and approach differences between Leclerc and Sainz, but they went into the British GP just two points apart.
They’re a superb pairing who will be thrilling to watch in title-contending machinery.
Yet a difference of under two tenths of a second in qualifying meant Leclerc was nicely placed to benefit from everything that unfolded among the leaders and nearly snatch a shock win, and Sainz started the sprint mid-pack and vulnerable to getting tangled up in a mess. – MB
Unfortunately, the British GP was far more reminiscent of Vettel’s miserable first couple of races for Aston Martin than the heroic drive that took him to a podium in Baku.
He had a bizarre but all too familiar spin on the first lap at Woodcote that dropped him to the back of the order on the opening lap of the restart. Aston informed Vettel of a problem aboard his car and retired him later in the race.
A sloppy weekend for Vettel, who had a clear pace advantage over his team-mate Stroll but made mistakes in Q3 on Friday and spun on Sunday and did little in the way of a recovery drive. – JS