Lewis Hamilton puts the glove on Max Verstappen in an instant that ignites the F1 title race and evokes memories of Prost vs Senna
Incandescent Christian Horner called it a hollow victory while Max Verstappen accused Lewis Hamilton of being disrespectful after their clash at the British Grand Prix.
But partly lost amid finger points and recriminations of a thrilling eighth win at Silverstone, much to the delight of the 140,000 fans gathered, was the gauntlet Hamilton posed in the championship battle.
Hamilton and Verstappen have had no shortage of wheel-to-wheel races in 2021, but it was the flashpoint of a season in which we talked about rivalry and respect without exploding like the title rivals. of yesteryear.
It had echoes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill amidst the drama and fallout that ensued.
And it was fitting that Hill was on hand to deliver his verdict on the dramatic clash early in the race and the thrilling way Hamilton overcame a 10-second penalty to bring Charles Leclerc back for the win.
As Hill put it, “I think Lewis said he’s not going to fall without a fight, and Max has to take that into account. It’s a tough game and people have accidents. Lewis would not deliberately want to see someone hurt. It’s part of the game.
Hamilton was essentially throwing the challenge to his younger and less experienced rival, albeit arguably faster.
Verstappen has earned a reputation as a track aggressor in the sport as it is remarkable how Hamilton has been one of the few accidents in a career now in its 15e season.
But the 36-year-old had made it clear that he was done with the bullying of the season thus far and was no longer holding back in a league in which he had fallen 33 points behind Verstappen and without a win since May, his longest streak since the year he last lost the championship to teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016.
Its positioning on the track, its entry into the summit and possible contact were examined by the experts the day after the race but, in truth, it was a race incident.
The two pilots could have been blamed – Verstappen for leaving so little room and almost pushing his rival into the wall, and Hamilton for entering Copse in an essentially atypical way, although he argued that ‘it was caused by where Verstappen had put it. Track.
But it was not necessary. Those who crammed into the stands adored it as two racers – both in some ways old-fashioned in their approach to the purity of racing in Formula One – stood together and decided that they weren’t going to move an inch.
It sets things up beautifully for the next race in two weeks, the Hungarian Grand Prix, another track that should suit a Mercedes, which has been behind the Red Bull.
In Budapest, the pair will have the chance to get their take on how Verstappen ended up in Armco’s barriers and who was to blame before packing for the sport’s summer break with the title. breathtakingly suspended.
Hamilton will not participate in this race at all with apologies. At Horner’s suggestion it was an empty win considering Verstappen had found himself in the barriers following a 51G impact, Hamilton said quite succinctly, “It doesn’t look hollow.”
He also said revealingly that he had “a lot of anger over the shunt with Max,” anger at what he sees as Verstappen’s unnecessary level of aggression on the track, which only equates to no accidents between the two so far because, in Hamilton’s mind, his poise and decision to back down at the last minute.
In front of his home crowd and with a record of eight championships risking to escape him, he was never going to do that yesterday.
Jenson Button, a driver who has known Hamilton the racer firsthand since his time at McLaren, predicted in Hungary and beyond that the season would be “a fiery one from now” and that it “was going to be punches for the next races ”.
It’s a tantalizing prospect, just like F1 should be.