Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s controversial contact on round 1 of the British Grand Prix got lots of headlines during the race. But according to Mercedes, Hamilton’s final victory would not have been possible without the resulting red flag from the crash after the seven-time champion suffered some damage to his rim.
Hamilton and Verstappen initially dueled for the British Grand Prix when Hamilton attempted a bold move down the inside of the fast-paced Copse right-hander, where he and Verstappen made contact, sending the Dutchman into the barriers.
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Following a red flag as these barriers were rectified, Hamilton then set a remarkable recovery run after receiving a 10-second penalty for the incident and caught Charles Leclerc with two laps to go and passed to victory. But Mercedes revealed after the race how close Hamilton had been to retirement after the Verstappen contact.
“We had failed the rim where we had had the contact at the front left,” said the team’s groundbreaking engineering director Andrew Shovlin, “so it would have been a DNF if it had not been red-flagged.
2021 British Grand Prix: Giant Verstappen crashes after contact with championship rival Hamilton
“The rest of the damage was actually remarkably small,” he added. “It was a tire temperature sensor that had come loose, so it swirled around, but surprisingly it is the least important part of the front wing – and it was the only one that broke.”
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Reflecting on Hamilton’s victory, Shovlin meanwhile said it had been “really nice” to see the Mercedes driver roll in and eventually pass Leclerc on Lap 50 of 52 as he praised Hamilton’s efforts to take his eighth British Grand Prix victory.
“From our planner’s view of the race, which predicted it live, we looked to capture [Charles] up two laps to go, ”Shovlin said.
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“When we thought it was on, I would say there were five laps [push]. You usually see the drop on the tires, but you could just see Lewis holding that eight-tenths advantage for Charles every lap, and Lewis just didn’t fall off and the balance was happy.
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“And to be honest with Lewis, you can hear it in his voice and in what he says on the radio; you just get this switch where he knows in his head that he will do it today. To be honest, it was really nice to sit on the pit wall and just watch the final period unfold, for it was a big win and a well-deserved win for Lewis. ”
This win put Hamilton just eight points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ position, with Mercedes now just four points behind Red Bull in the constructors.