After the dramatic collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the British GP, will their seemingly friendly rivalry turn sour?
There’s no doubt the massive 51G crash which forced Verstappen to go to hospital for a check-up will cause friction between himself and Hamilton in the near future, as it could well be a key moment that decides the title at the end of the year.
The Red Bull driver came to Silverstone with a comfortable 32-point lead in the standings and after a comfortable victory in the Sprint Race he looked like the man to beat on Sunday.
But his fight for the lead lasted less than one lap, after a collision with Hamilton at Copse Corner sent the Dutchman careering into the barrier and thus experiencing a 51G crash.
The contact has caused much debate on social media and beyond, with some saying it was Verstappen’s fault, others saying it was Hamilton’s fault and then others taking the view that it was a racing incident.
But in both the Red Bull and Mercedes camps, each team is taking understandably a different viewpoint.
Christian Horner made his thoughts very clear shortly after the race, telling Sky F1 that Hamilton’s move at Copse was “unacceptable”.
“It shouldn’t be like that, to be honest with you,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“I mean, Max [Verstappen] has incurred a 51G accident. Lewis Hamilton is an eight-time world champion, you know, that he shouldn’t be making maneuvers like that, it’s unacceptable.
“You know, he’s put a driver [in hospital], thank goodness the biggest result for us today is that he was uninjured.
“Yeah, he’s having to go to hospital for precautionary checks after a 51G accident, so yeah, I hope Lewis [Hamilton] is very happy with himself.”
The Red Bull Team Principal was no doubt incredibly frustrated at the result, and was unafraid to mince his words on the crash. Both Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have been throwing comments back and forward as the season has progressed, especially over the difference in approach to the technical regulations.
This collision might well be the final straw, especially with Red Bull vying for their first World Championship since 2013, and Mercedes keen to carry on their Turbo-Hybrid era dominance.
In the Mercedes camp, Wolff believed that the fault was on Verstappen, saying that if the drivers front-axle (in this case, of Hamilton’s car) is alongside the car on the outside it is his corner to take.
“These two are not giving each other an inch and it [Copse] is a high speed corner, that’s why these things are nasty to look at,” he said speaking to Sky Sports.
“But there is a clear regulation and that is something that is black and white on paper, and as a racing driver you may have different perspectives on the car, but you need to exactly understand that if the front-axle is over the middle of the car on the outside it’s your corner.
“You can say is that a corner that is equivalent to any other, maybe not, but again an accident involves two drivers.”
Both Verstappen and Hamilton have been fierce rivals on track this year, but off track there has been a lot of respect between the two. Heading to Hungary in just under a couple of weeks there will most likely be tension between the pair.
But it depends how how the two drivers respond, Verstappen took to Twitter on Sunday evening calling his British rival “disrespectful” for the way in which he celebrated after taking victory in the British Grand Prix.
That very much could have been a heat of the moment Tweet, but we’ve seen how the Dutchman reacted in the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix when Esteban Ocon took him out of the lead as he was un-lapping himself, and it got very intense in the paddock after the race.
But as things stand, the 2021 battle for the championship just turned up a level.