The collision between Hamilton and Verstappen in the opening lap of the British GP will continue to be a talking point for the rest of the season. Social media has seen a clear divide between supporters and neutrals, scrutinizing every milli-second of every replay from every angle available to them.
The launch of the 2022 F1 car, the debut of the much-awaited Sprint Qualifying are just some of the key moments during this season’s visit to Silverstone. But everything was quickly forgotten the moment the title rivals touched on turn 9.
Verstappen went sliding into the barriers experiencing 51G (yes, you read that right!). The Red Bull driver was visibly shaken up and was immediately sent first to the medical center on track and later to the local hospital for further tests. He was cleared in the hours that followed and was quick to express his annoyance towards his rival on Instagram.
Hamilton is the King of Bristish GP
The 7-time World Champion collected his 8th win at this track and his 99th victory overall in the sport. And he savored every second of it, as he took a victory lap proudly waving the British flag and later jumped the barriers to celebrate in front of the thousands of fans in the grandstand.
But it was not all smooth sailing for the Mercedes driver. He was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for the incident with Max, which meant he would have to serve it during his pit-stop. He was already playing catch up to the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc ahead of him, who managed to keep the gap above one second to avoid falling prey to the DRS.
Coming out of his extended pit-stop, Hamilton was now 35 seconds behind the Ferrari and had a lot of catching up to do in the 24 laps that remained. And what followed was a Masterclass. He cut down the lead lap by lap and finally passed the Ferrari with just 2 laps to spare. While all the drivers were focused on tyre conservation, Hamilton showed that he is able to extract much more from that car in the same conditions.
Sprint race: Success or Failure?
There were plenty of doubts from not just the fans but the teams about the idea of a new format for the race weekend. Can we expect to see more racing? Will there be any surprise performers? Does conventional qualification lose its charm? Will there be more tweaks in the future?
New does not always mean better. But it definitely means drama, especially in a sport like F1. We saw the title rivals go blow for blow on Friday and Saturday, and then literally during the race on Sunday. So we were rewarded with more racing. F1 also claimed that moving the conventional qualification session to Friday increased the viewership on that day which is generally ignored because fans are not too interested in watching practice sessions.
Teams raised concerns about Parc-ferme rules between qualifying on Friday and FP2 and Saturday. The time limitation reduces the changes that can be made to the car to improve performance and teams could end up being stuck with a wrong set up ultimately costing them the race.
Verdict: partial success. It was always going to be a popular race weekend after that blockbuster of a collision between Hamilton and Verstappen. So while F1 will count it as a win in their books, they still have a lot of tinkering to do with this experimental format. With two more sprint races scheduled for the season, we are not completely convinced that this is the way to go forward.
Fernando should not be counted out yet.
The two-time former world champion returned to F1 this year following a successful stint in other forms of motor racing. The Alpine driver who turns 40 later this month showed this weekend that he is not just around for his expertise or helmet swaps, but because he is still one of the best F1 drivers out there.
After a slow start to the season, the Spaniard is now a regular top 10 finisher. And during the sprint race on Saturday, he showed signs of Fernando during his days at Ferrari and McLaren. He had a spectacular launch and jumped from 11th to 5th in the first set of corners of the opening lap. His choice to go with the soft compounds paid off in contrast to the rest of the grid running on the mediums.
With F1 teams preferring younger drivers for long-term goals, the racecraft and intelligence that an experienced driver like Fernando has to offer can not be ignored. It would be exciting to see him in a team like Ferrari or McLaren again. However, with the changes coming to the sport from next year and a lot of them revolving around the car, teams will look to drivers like Fernando for their wisdom.