The collision of Hamilton and Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix lit the fuse in their battle for the title, sparking an intense debate throughout Formula 1 as to who was to blame for the incident.
Hamilton was given 10 seconds after stewards found him primarily to blame for causing the collision at Copse, which resulted in a 51 G-force crash for Verstappen.
After serving the penalty in the pits, Hamilton rallied for his eighth victory at Silverstone, cutting the drivers’ championship deficit to just eight points against Verstappen in the process.
Hamilton and Verstappen have already had several wheel-to-wheel battles this year, but Silverstone marked the first time they had meaningful contact.
The duo came close to touching each other several times during the opening bars of the opening lap prior to the collision, particularly at Brooklands when Verstappen defended the inner line.
After the race, the Mercedes engineering director, Shovlin, said the aggressiveness displayed by Verstappen had previously forced Hamilton to give in in other battles, meaning an incident like this was unavoidable.
“If you look at the sprint race and the opening lap of the main race, Lewis had to constantly back up to avoid a collision,” Shovlin said.
“Then he was able to put his car in a position where he could hold his ground.”
“Max drives aggressively and it was inevitable that one day we would have an accident.”
“But we are happy with the job Lewis did, and a little disappointed by the penalty, but relieved that we were able to keep going and won the race.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner called the penalty imposed on Hamilton “insignificant” after the Englishman can bounce back and win the race to cut Verstappen’s championship lead.
The incident has led to comparisons with previous clashes between title rivals, the most famous of which was that of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1989 and 1990.
When asked if he thought a clash between Hamilton and Verstappen was inevitable, the team boss Mercedes F1, Toto Wolff, said it was “a situation that everyone has seen in the past when great drivers compete against each other.”
“When no one is willing to give in then this type of situation can happen,” added the manager after the race.
“But for me it takes two to dance a tango.”
“This championship has been very intense, because we have fought with everything we have to maintain this championship, knowing that we do not have the same performance as Red Bull and Honda.”
“We’ve had big point losses in the past and today (Sunday at Silverstone) we got big points. So that always balances out. “