The British Grand Prix has been stopped after one lap of racing following a collision between championship leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The pair fought each other hard around the first eight corners of the lap. Hamilton made a slightly better getaway from pole winner Verstappen, who defended hard for corner after corner.
As they accelerated out of Luffield corner Verstappen was ahead, but Hamilton drew alongside as the approached the high-speed Copse corner. Verstappen squeezed Hamilton hard on the way towards the bend, then moved back towards the racing line before turning into the corner.
The pair made contact, Verstappen’s right-rear wheel suffering an immediate breakage against Hamilton’s left-front. It pitched the Red Bull off the track at speed, sending him hard into the barriers.
The Safety Car was initially deployed, and the race red-flagged and suspended as the second lap began to allow the barrier to be repaired.
Afterwards Hamilton was heard asking about Verstappen’s condition, and was told he had got out of the car.
“I was ahead going in there, man,” Hamilton added on the radio. “I was fully alongside, it was my line.
He turned in on me man.”
The incident is under investigation by the stewards. Both teams we heard lobbying race director Michael Masi on the cause of the crash during the suspension.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Masi that Hamilton “was never anywhere near alongside” Verstappen.
“It was 100% Max’s corner,” said Horner. “As far as I’m concerned full blame lays on Hamilton who should never have been in that position.
“We could have had a massive accident. Thank God he’s walked away unscathed. I hope you’re going to deal with it appropriately.”
Red Bull team manager Jonathan Wheatley joined in, telling Masi: “I’ve watched this replay several times now Michael and I’m feeling really cross about it. That corner there Michael – that’s not a place to stick a wheel up the inside of a car.”
However Mercedes’ sporting director Ron Meadows defended Hamilton. “Now I’ve had a chance to have a look at that footage Lewis was significantly alongside on the inside of turn nine,” he told Masi.
Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff told Masi he had emailled information relating to the collision and the rules to him, and he intended to visit the stewards to discuss the incident with them.
Horner said Verstappen was lucky not to be seriously injured in the crash. “For me it’s very clear,” he said. “Lewis has stuck a wheel up the inside at one of the fastest corners on this world championship.
“He’s driven this circuit for years. You know you don’t do that here. And the result, thank God we haven’t had a driver that’s been seriously injured or worse here today.”
Verstappen suffered a 51G impact in the crash, said Horner. “Thank God he walked away. That’s the biggest result we’ll have today.
“Just relieved to see him, he’s in the medical centre but he’s walked in there on his own. He’s doing a 30-minute precautionary test but hopefully so far so good.”
The race will restart at approximately 3:41 local time. Verstappen was the only driver to retire on the first lap. Following the collision Charles Leclerc took the lead ahead of Hamilton.
Update: Hamilton was given a 10-second time penalty for the collision.
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