SportF1Silverstone, the start of the Verstappen-Hamilton war

Silverstone, the start of the Verstappen-Hamilton war

The 2021 Formula 1 season will be one of the most remembered over time among fans of the highest category of motorsport, largely thanks to the titanic duel for the world title between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which came to an end on the final lap of the last race of the year.

However, the moment of greatest tension came on July 18 , right at the start of the British Grand Prix, where the two collided after a heart-stopping half-turn in which they were parallel at all times. When the Red Bull and Mercedes tried to pass wheel to wheel in the mythical Copse, the seven-time world champion touched the Dutchman’s right rear tire, sending Verstappen against the wall and, shortly after, to the hospital as a result of the great accident.

At the end of the test, Hamilton celebrated in style a new victory at his home, in Silverstone, in what would be his eighth victory to equal Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver on the same track, since the German he did at Magny-Cours, as well as drawing with himself for his performances at the Hungaroring.

That generated the anger of the Dutchman and all his surroundings, and since then, the cordiality went into the background to trigger a tremendous fight that penetrated deep into the imagination of Formula 1 fans.

Since that day, the two candidates for the world title have met repeatedly on the asphalt, although they had to wait until the Italian Grand Prix for another duel, since in Hungary there was a crazy race, in Belgium they did not run under the water, and in the Netherlands a master class of the Red Bull was seen in front of his fans.

In Monza, in September, the two drivers challenged each other in what would be the second sprint format weekend in history, and in Friday’s qualifying, Valtteri Bottas surprised the two protagonists.

In the short race on Saturday, a bad start by Hamilton meant that they were not close in the 18 laps that made up the Italian appointment, but the war broke out again on Sunday.

On lap 26, after the pit stops, Verstappen tried to accelerate the braking at the first chicane, while the Briton did not give up, leaving the Dutchman with almost no space. The action caused the RB16B to end up in the air, hitting the Halo of the Mercedes and, were it not for that security element, quite possibly, the physical integrity of the Englishman would have been affected.

Both did not even want to look at each other, but Race Direction took matters into their own hands and sanctioned Verstappen with three positions for the next grand prix in Russia, as well as two points on his Superlicence.

Due to that penalty, Red Bull decided to equip a new engine for the Dutchman, who went down the deluge of the final laps to take second position in an epic victory for Hamilton, who reached a hundred wins in Formula 1.

In that appointment the two could be seen again sharing the podium after the fictitious Belgian Grand Prix, but removing that test, they did not coincide uncorking the champagne since the second race in Austria, where they took first and second position.

Just two weeks later, in qualifying in Turkey, Hamilton added one more pole position, but decided to change his engine, which sent him to 11th place , handing victory to his team-mate on a silver platter, while Vestappen finished just behind behind, in second place to maintain the lead in the general classification.

However, the United States Grand Prix arrived, where the two engaged in a strategic battle that resulted in Red Bull conquering Texas for the first time in Austin. After that, the paddock moved amid a feeling of absolute dominance of the Milton Keynes men to Mexico, the home of Sergio Pérez, where he wanted to give his fans a victory that, once again, went to Verstappen’s hands, while Hamilton could do nothing to prevent it.

With a disadvantage of 19 points , the British faced the appointment in Interlagos in the third and last weekend with a sprint format of the course, and there came the miracle of the German power unit.

After an incredible pole position, taking more than four tenths from the rest, the seven-time champion was disqualified due to irregularities in his rear wing, so Mercedes decided to change the engine to go all out in the sprint race, while Verstappen took both extra points from that short test on Saturday after being second.

Already on Sunday, after a 24-lap comeback for the Englishman, Verstappen returned to the top, but a W12 more like a rocket than a Formula 1 car allowed Hamilton to catch him on lap 59 , just after another controversial clash on the track where the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers went outside, skipping all the rules imposed in the regulations.

Under an aura of being almost unbeatable, remembering Ayrton Senna in his country, the Briton closed the gap in the classification, and repeated in Qatar, where he was unattainable, leaving Verstappen more than 25 seconds behind in a race he led from start to finish. with Alonso returning to the podium seven years later.

As if this were not enough, the premiere of the Jeddah street circuit arrived, where, how could it be otherwise, Hamilton and his greatest rival met. Two red flags and a brake test by the Dutchman later, caused the pursuer in the overall drivers to match Verstappen in points with only one appointment pending, in which it was one of the most controversial episodes, since it was a comical situation to the inexplicable time between two motorsport greats when they touch each other in the middle of the straight.

There were 369.5 points that shone on both markers, and there were only 58 spins left to discover who would be the world champion. Once again, with the controversy of the FIA hand in hand due to Verstappen’s overtaking attempt on the first lap and the safety car at the end due to Nicholas Latifi’s accident, they created a scenario in which everything would be decided in a single lap. .

On the restart, the Dutchman threw himself with faith at turn five, and although Hamilton tried to return it to him on the second straight with the DRS, the Dutchman was crowned for the first time in Formula 1, breaking the Englishman’s dream of being the only with eight titles in the highest category of motorsport.

Since then, the Mercedes driver disappeared for a few months until announcing that he would return stronger than ever, but the W13 prevented him from continuing his hopes of fighting Verstappen in 2022.

With no chance of winning, the Englishman suffered a humiliating and painful overtaking at Imola by his rival a single year earlier, but it was not under normal race conditions, rather the Red Bull team was lapping him.

That was the only time they saw each other on the track after their fight for the world championship, although as time passes, both will continue to be hungry to repeat a fight for another title.

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