Home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic British Grand Prix from Charles Leclerc at Silverstone, following an opening lap clash with Max Verstappen which put the Red Bull driver out of the race.
Hamilton was penalised for the controversial incident at Copse corner, just after which Leclerc had surged into the lead before the race was red flagged.
Leclerc led the majority of the restarted race, including while managing an intermittent engine problem, but was unable to resist Hamilton’s late charge back to the front following his lengthy pitstop, where he had served his 10-second time penalty.
Unlike in the sprint race, Hamilton made the better getaway at the first start and was alongside polesitter Verstappen as they raced into Abbey, with the Red Bull hanging on around the outside – nearly going into the runoff area – to lead at the race’s first braking point – Village.
The battle continued, the pair running so closely side-by-side they appeared to touch, down the Wellington straight, at the end of which Hamilton surged ahead on the outside line, with Verstappen then skating over the inside kerbs and to stay ahead, even though it took him wide on the exit.
Verstappen’s tighter entry through Luffield meant Hamilton was able to surge into his slipstream on the national pit straight, diving to the inside and very close to the barriers after Verstappen had moved to cover the inside line for Copse.
There, with Hamilton a long way alongside, the pair collided as they ran through the rapid right-hander, with Hamilton’s left-front clipping Verstappen’s right-rear and popping it off the car, which was spun around at high-speed and sent into the barriers in the outside.
Verstappen hit the tyre wall side on, where he gingerly climbed from the wreckage after the race had been red flagged, from an initial safety car intervention. The Red Bull driver was later taken to a nearby hospital “for further precautionary checks”, per an FIA spokesperson.
Leclerc led at this point after the Ferrari had surged past Hamilton, who had lost speed in the clash with the Red Bull, exiting Copse.
The race was suspended for nearly half an hour, during which Red Bull and Mercedes presented their opposing viewpoints to race director Michael Masi, as the stewards investigated the incident.
At the standing restart on the race’s third lap of 52, Leclerc stayed ahead of Hamilton off the line, while Lando Norris passed Bottas identical fashion to Leclerc at the initial start to run third ahead of the second Mercedes.
Leclerc surged to a 1.2-second lead at the end of the first lap and he kept Hamilton – who had been told to push after being handed a 10s time addition for the incident with Verstappen – at arm’s length for the next phase of the race – where they traded fastest laps in the high one minute, 32 seconds.
Ferrari informed Leclerc that it was switching him to “Plan B” – a one-stopper with an elongated first stint – as Hamilton struggled to make progress following in the dirty air.
But the world champion was able to close in and run in DRS range approaching lap 20 after Leclerc suffered a series of engine power “cuts”, with Ferrari hurriedly having to tell him to alter the power unit’s settings.
The issue appeared to be rectified (although Leclerc reported the issue on an additional occasion before being told to avoiding upshifting if the cut occurred again) and so the Ferrari driver was able to pull out his advantage again as Hamilton reported blistering on both his front tyres, after he had pushed to try and take advantage of Leclerc’s power problem.
Leclerc’s pace was so strong that Ferrari kept him out until lap 29, two laps after Hamilton had stopped to switch his medium tyres for hards – and one lap after Carlos Sainz had lost over 10 seconds with a slow left-front change.
But Leclerc had no such problem and started his stint on the hards with a lead of 7.7 seconds over Bottas, which he quickly set about extending.
Hamilton ran behind Norris after his long stop, the McLaren having fallen behind Bottas as a result of his own pitstop delay as a result of a slow right-rear change that cost him around four second.
The Mercedes driver quickly closed in on Norris and passed him on the run to the inside of Copse on lap 31, at the end of which Leclerc led Bottas by nearly 10 seconds and was 13.5 seconds in front of Hamilton.
Over the next ten laps, as Leclerc managed his pace in the mid one minute, 31 seconds up front, Hamilton charged up to his teammate with a series of laps in the mid-high one minute, 29 seconds, with Mercedes ordering Bottas not to hold the world champion up and then let him by at Stowe on lap 40.
That left Leclerc with 7.6s lead to defend over the final 12 laps, with Ferrari ordering him to “full push to the end”, as Hamilton continued to eat into his advantage.
The Mercedes driver regularly took up to a second a lap from Leclerc, reaching DRS range with just over three laps remaining, where Leclerc was struggling with lapped traffic.
On lap 50, Hamilton once again looked to the inside at Copse, with Leclerc desperately trying to hang on around the outside.
But the Ferrari driver had to catch a snap of oversteer and went wide over the exit kerbs and ran off, rejoining just behind Hamilton, who surged clear to victory by 3.8s.
Bottas finished 11.1 seconds off the lead in third, with Norris fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who defied Sainz to the finish.
Fernando Alonso was another driver who suffered a slow pitstop, before which he had briefly battled Bottas when the Mercedes came out of the pits from its only stop, and he eventually came home seventh after passing Lance Stroll following the slow service.
Stroll took eighth ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Alpine, with Yuki Tsunoda claiming the final point in 10th.
Pierre Gasly had to pit late on with a puncture and finished P11 ahead of George Russell.
Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez clashed late on – an incident that will be investigated after the race.
So a dramatic British Grand Prix with the two title contenders colliding on lap 1 at Copse corner. Max Verstappen lost out with Lewis Hamilton receiving a time penalty but got the speed to win the race at Silverstone.
British Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:58:23.284
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 3.871
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 11.125
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 28.573
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 42.624
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 43.454
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:12.093
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:14.289
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:16.162
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:22.065
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:25.327
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda +1 lap
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
– Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +1 lap