Lewis Hamilton was accused of being “dangerous and disrespectful” in reviving his Formula One title defense by winning the British Grand Prix on Sunday, after a first lap crash left championship leader Max Verstappen complaining that he had been “taken out.”
Hamilton said after the race that he would “not be bullied.”
Roared on by a crowd of more than 140,000, Hamilton attempted to overtake Verstappen on Copse corner on the first lap, but Verstappen refused to yield. When the two touched wheels, the Red Bull went careening off the track and into the barrier. Hamilton drove on with just a broken wheel rim.
“Glad I’m OK,” Verstappen wrote on Twitter from the hospital. “Very disappointed with being taken out like this.”
Red Bull team principal Cristian Horner laid into Hamilton, who won his home race for the eighth time.
“I hope Lewis is very happy with himself,” Horner said. “That’s a hollow victory. Copse is one of the fastest corners in the world. You don’t stick a wheel up the inside. That’s just dirty driving.”
Hamilton said after the race that he had felt “a lot of anger after the shunt” and blamed Verstappen.
“I don’t feel he needs to be aggressive as he is,” he said. “I would never back down from anyone. I will not be bullied into being less aggressive. We needed the points. He left a gap and I went for it.”
Charles Leclerc grabbed the lead before racing was suspended, while crews cleared away the Red Bull and Verstappen was taken for medical tests.
Verstappen was later discharged “following a thorough medical examination, without any major injuries,” the team said.
It was a “pretty impressive impact,” Formula One medical rescue coordinator Ian Roberts said.
Verstappen was “a little winded to say the least,” Roberts said, but added that there were “no injuries apparent at the moment.”
The race stewards imposed a penalty of 10 seconds, the second-lightest punishment available to them, on Hamilton, who was still able to chase down Leclerc.
“The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track,” Verstappen wrote on Twitter. “Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior, but we move on.”
Hamilton’s win ended Red Bull’s streak of five consecutive victories, cutting Verstappen’s lead in the championship to eight points.
Monegasque Leclerc was second, 3.81 seconds back to revive Ferrari’s season.
The second Mercedes, driven by Finn Valtteri Bottas, who had allowed Hamilton to pass after the penalty, was third, ahead of the McLarens of Briton Lando Norris and Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Red Bull had a bad afternoon, with Sergio Perez finishing 16th and outside the points, to drop from third to fifth in the standings.
Horner focused his frustration on Hamilton.
“I don’t care what Lewis said. That’s a hollow victory,” Horner said. “It shouldn’t be like that. Max has incurred a 51g accident. Lewis is a seven-time world champion. He shouldn’t be making maneuvers like that. It’s unacceptable. It was dangerous; it looked desperate. He’s put a competitor in hospital.”
“The biggest result for us was that he was uninjured. I hope Lewis is very happy with himself,” said Horner, who was also dissatisfied with the punishment. “It wasn’t much of a penalty.”
Hamilton took his penalty during a pit stop when running second and came back onto the track in fifth place.
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