Mercedes Insider: Hamilton Swore to Avoid Imola Repeat Before Verstappen’s F1 Crash

Published 07/20/2021, 8:29 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 16, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after finishing first in the sprint race qualifying Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron


The F1 nation podcast consistently promises a great in-depth analysis after a race weekend. As always, Tom Clarkson, Natalie Pinkham, and former world champion Damon Hill sat down and discussed the dramatic race at Silverstone. As the trio addressed the crash, motive came up – why were Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen so aggressive?

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Clarkson says he has never seen Hamilton race this assertively since his battle with Nico Rosberg in Barcelona. They wondered what got Hamilton into “full-on attack mode”; the only logical explanation of that being his frustration at not being able to bag pole at the sprint. Clarkson argued otherwise, and instead went back to Imola.

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The Emilia Romagna GP was Hamilton’s 99th pole start, and the first lap saw the Red Bull charge hard against Hamilton. He started third on the grid and was zealous; it eventually put the Mercedes on the curb and Verstappen lead the race. He won at Imola, almost tieing the scores between him and Hamilton. One could see the second race of the season as the beginning of it all.

Clarkson revealed that back at the Mercedes garage, someone had heard Hamilton say, “I’m not going to let him do that again.”

Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen – what had happened?

Imola and Barcelona saw some aggressive plays from Verstappen. He is a growing driver who, with this season, has been providing some serious competition to the reigning champion. Lewis is a title away from breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of most championship titles, and Verstappen is a strong roadblock on that path.

Heading into Silverstone, Hamilton hadn’t stood on the top of the podium for five consecutive races – the longest he’s ever been denied of victory. Additionally, it was his home race; he’s hailed as the King of Silverstone, and to have had missed the pole position at the sprint qualifying would have been devastating.

So, going into the race, Hamilton was determined to win on home soil, while Verstappen wanted to widen the gap between the two.

Both drivers started the lap defending and attacking skillfully. Over the first four turns of the circuit, Verstappen had positioned himself, intending to win. The Mercedes had been quick on the straights this British GP weekend. So, coming down Wellington straight, Hamilton had a great run on Max.

Max went on the inside, Lewis on the outside, and as the two headed into Brooklands, Max braked later and stayed ahead of the Mercedes. Going into Copse, however, many speculate that if Lewis held back, they could have avoided the collision, while others say that Max defended poorly.

Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 18, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during the race REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Either way, as drivers, they expect the other to get away, and as a result, the two very determined drivers collided. No one truly knows what happened, and it’s best settled as a racing incident.

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Damon Hill explained the incident was inevitable. “It was inevitable at some point, there was going to be a coming together of the two. It was so aggressive.”

And this could only be the start of a season-long battle. It’s the Knight against the Lion, and both drivers are determined to prove their place on the grid as the best of the rest.

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Shreya Sanjeev

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Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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