The Austrian Grand Prix, with its electrifying start, constant on-track battles, and a shocking comeback victory from Max Verstappen, was a tough act to follow. Somehow, the British Grand Prix pulled it off, delivering plenty of excitement of its own throughout 52 laps of the legendary Silverstone circuit.
Like in Austria, a slightly mixed-up qualifying session was the catalyst for much of the race’s thrilling action. Valtteri Bottas took pole position by a mere six milliseconds over his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, meaning hometown favorite Hamilton couldn’t easily sprint away with the lead as he often does—instead he would need to find a way past Bottas. Charles Leclerc and Verstappen built on their momentum from Austria, snatching third and fourth, while Verstappen’s struggling Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly managed to out-qualify Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The start was clean, and Hamilton immediately began hounding Bottas for the lead. Hamilton remained on Bottas’ gearbox until lap four, when he confidently swept around the outside of the Finn at Luffield corner, only for Bottas to cling on and retake the lead at the next corner. Hamilton backed off to cool down his tires, but meanwhile, an epic battle ensued between the two protagonists from Austria: Verstappen and Leclerc.
Leclerc held off Verstappen until the pitstops, but an amazing effort by the Red Bull crew got Verstappen out just ahead of his Ferarri rival, with the two trundling side-by-side down the pit lane. However, Verstappen immediately struggled for traction on cold tires, and Leclerc pounced, taking a net third position. The skirmish would continue for several laps, until Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo, bringing out the safety car.
This was the critical moment for Hamilton, who had yet to pit, unlike his teammate Bottas. Just as the safety car emerged, Hamilton dove to the pits, fitting the hard tire and coming out in the lead of the race. Even more crucially, the hard tire could last till the end of the race, especially with a tire-saving expert like Hamilton, while Bottas, on the medium tire, would be forced to make a second stop. The safety car also benefited Sainz, who had stayed out longer and as a result jumped to seventh after pitting.
After the restart, Leclerc and Verstappen resumed their battle, with Leclerc barging past Verstappen at the end of lap 24 only for Verstappen to hold onto the position down the main straight to start the next lap. By lap 37, Verstappen was on the back of Vettel, who sat in third after the safety car chaos. The Dutchman took the podium position around the outside at Stowe, but Vettel tried to fight back, and locked up, plowing into the rear of the Red Bull, sending Verstappen flying over the curbs and Vettel into the gravel. Vettel was handed a fair ten second penalty, and dropped to the back, while Verstappen’s strong run was ruined. Somehow, he sustained minimal damage and clung onto fifth.
Hamilton triumphed at his home race, prompting roars from the grandstands, while Bottas finished second and Leclerc came third, benefiting from the Verstappen-Vettel clash. Gasly was also helped by Vettel’s error, coming in fourth, ahead of his Red Bull teammate for the first time this season.
Hamilton’s record-setting sixth British Grand Prix victory seemed like a fitting celebration of the contract renewal that will see Silverstone continue its 50-plus year-long place on the F1 calendar. And while yet another Hamilton win and Mercedes one-two may seem like a reversion to the same problems that plagued F1 before the Austria Grand Prix, the nail-biting battles between Verstappen, Leclerc, and Vettel show that, with the right changes, Formula One can have a very bright future.