The battle which became a war between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

The crash at Silverstone between the championship rivals has sparked the rivalry into life in the wrong way

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 10:24 am
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

For years, Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen is the battle everyone in F1 has wanted - a driver among the pantheon of greats against the uncompromising young star. On Sunday, that battle sparked into life, but not the way anyone wanted.

By now, thousands of column inches have been written by journalists all over the world about the repercussions of the crash between the drivers which sent Verstappen not only into the wall at Copse - one of the fastest corners in motorsport, let alone at Silverstone - but also to the hospital for check-ups, while Hamilton was able to continue, albeit penalised, to hunt down Charles Leclerc to win a record eighth British Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Verstappen have had fights out on track before, but they have managed to keep away from each other's bodywork and kept it clean. The title race appeared to be swaying towards Verstappen in recent races and after Saturday's sprint race, another Red Bull Racing win was on the cards to break the hearts of the British fans in attendance.

Whether you fall on the 'racing incident' side of the fence or the 'Hamilton took him out' side, the crash on the opening lap was a bad one - not only for ending the spectacle so early on, but for the aftermath too. Verstappen' impact of 51G was enough to trigger a trip to the medical centre, and later the hospital for check-ups - the yellow air ambulance helicopter leaving the circuit in the closing laps as Hamilton's thrilling chase for the lead ensued on track, having served his ten-second penalty. Fortunately, Verstappen was given the all-clear and left not long afterwards.

The Dutchman would later lash out claiming Hamilton's celebrations were unsportsmanlike and disrespectful while his opponent was in hospital, and the vile side of social media would rear it's unwanted head again as the British driver received racist abuse following the chequered flag.

The crash has certainly drawn a divide down the middle of the sport, and driven a wedge between fans of the two drivers where before, there was a competitive but civil rivalry. Now, it's all-out war.

Even the most staunch of Hamilton supporters will admit he has needed a rival in recent years. Since Nico Rosberg retired from the sport in 2016 after winning the world championship, Hamilton has had a relative lack of strong opponents to take him on for his last four titles. With Verstappen and Red Bull at the top of their game now, taking the fight to Mercedes in 2021, the battle was beginning to spice up.

Now, with a controversy, with those battle lines drawn, with two drivers and teams feeling aggrieved, it's the title race everyone wanted. It's just a shame it had to start like this.