Yesterday I watched the enthralling race at Silverstone. It was the first Formula 1 race ever to use a sprint race to decide the pole position. This was a lack luster affair and did not bring the hoped for extra excitement. They have a couple more races like this, after which I hope they ditch them.
The race opening
The highlight of the race was the spectacular collision between Verstappen and Hamilton on the second lap at Copse. Having raced nose to nose for the opening lap, Hamilton saw a gap and dummied left before going down the right of Verstappen leading into Copse. They were more or less side-by-side, with Verstappen slightly in the lead, but Hamilton having the inside line. Just before the apex Verstappen pulled across Hamilton's line thinking Hamilton would move further to the right or lift off . He didn't. Verstappen's right rear wheel was clipped by Hamilton's left front, sending Verstappen sideways into the barriers with a 51G impact! He walked away, but was a littler dazed and got checked up in hospital.
The stewards decided this was Hamilton's fault and gave him a 10 second penalty, which he observed during his first pit stop. Their decision read as follows:
"The Stewards reviewed video and telemetry evidence," read their ruling. "Cars 33 [Verstappen] and 44 [Hamilton] entered turn 9 with Car 33 in the lead and Car 44 slightly behind and on the inside. "Car 44 was on a line that did not reach the apex of the corner, with room available to the inside. "When Car 33 turned into the corner, Car 44 did not avoid contact and the left front of Car 44 contacted the right rear of Car 33. Car 44 is judged predominantly at fault."
Whatever happened to letting the drivers race? Is F1 really dishing out penalties based on whether a driver's line will reach the apex. The racing line is not always the one which will win you the race. If in a collision blame is automatically assigned to the guy off the racing line, then what's the point of racing.
Maturing, but not yet mature
My take on the incident starts a few corners earlier, where the situation was reversed. Coming into Brooklands, Hamilton was clearly in the lead with Verstappen going down the inside as you can see in this clip at 1min 10seconds. But Hamilton gave Verstappen space and didn't turn in on him. Verstappen missed the apex and went over the curb. Hamilton ran slightly wide on the outside, knowing that he risked ending in a spin by having his left rear clipped by Verstappen's front right if he stuck to his line. If Verstappen had taken the same approach a couple of corners later he would have come out of Copse second. Yet, he would have had the whole race to catch Hamilton. Even if he didn't, he would have lost only 7 points, maybe 6 with the fastest lap. As it stands, he lost 25 points and the championship is again wide open.
After Hamilton pitted and observed the 10 second penalty he was down in fourth, 15 seconds behind Leclerc. He began to reel him in, passing Norris, Bottas and then Leclerc with a couple of laps to spare. I feel sorry for Leclerc who put in a brilliant drive. But Hamilton showed his class in the second half of the race, despite the crash with Verstappen. Roll on Hungary!