By Carol M. Creasey
When Formula One arrived in Silverstone, it was a pivotal moment, as there was going to be a crowd of around 140,000 spectators all cheering on Sir Lewis Hamilton and the other Brits Lando Norris and George Russell.
I actually experienced this for myself in 2019, when I was most fortunate to go. The energy and support they have for the Britons is truly awesome and inspiring. It is definitely the place he would most like to win at and, in the past, has done many times. But this year with the dominant Red Bull, it was probably going to be very hard.
After Practice 1, Sir Lewis was third and noticeably eight tenths off the pace of Max Verstappen. The format of the weekend had changed, as later on Friday, qualifying took place. In Q1 he remained eight tenths behind the Red Bull, but gradually as time went on, he improved, getting closer and closer to Verstappen. The roars from the crowd could be clearly heard, and must have surely inspired him to do a time which was probably not possible on paper. In Q3 he snatched pole, and led Verstappen by two tenths of a second. Next came Valtteri Bottas, in third, which meant that Verstappen would start the race in a Mercedes sandwich. But, on Saturday, there would be a sprint race of 17 laps, and the winner from that would be on pole for Sunday, so there was still much work to do.
Saturday was the day of the sprint race, and Verstappen overtook the Briton right at the start. Although Sir Lewis managed to keep within 1.3 seconds of his rival, he could not overtake, which left him a frustrated second, with Bottas remaining in third. So Verstappen then inherited the pole position that Sir Lewis had worked so hard to achieve on Friday.
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Mercedes put up a post on Facebook, declaring that second and third were good places to start from, and there was all to play for, so I went to add my good wishes to other Sir Lewis and Bottas fans. However, I was unpleasantly surprised when trolls came onto the page full of spite and hate, and trying to demean Sir Lewis’ achievements. It really shows what sad people there are around, so full of jealousy. However, if he read any of their comments, I am sure it inspired him to wipe the sneers off their faces. I have to say that nobody can like every driver, we are all different. There are some drivers that I have no interest in, so I would not even go near their social media pages, let alone spread hatred there like these trolls do.
On race day, the temperatures rose once again, the crowds were waiting with eager anticipation, and many Union Jacks could be seen waved by supporters. Excitement unfolded during the first lap, when Sir Lewis went wheel to wheel with Verstappen. He always gives him a lot of space, because he knows he is a hard racer, but Verstappen came across the track to block him, and he just kept coming. His whole attitude was, I am coming, get out of my way! The crash was a result of neither driver backing down, and it ended Verstappen’s race immediately.
First of all I want to say that nobody ever wants to see a formula one driver injured, and I am glad that after visiting the hospital, Max was deemed fit to be discharged. Everyone has their own view of whose fault it was, but it is common knowledge that a lot of fans call him Crashstappen, because since he came to Formula One, he has taken out many drivers and ruined their races. Sir Lewis knows he is an aggressive driver and, in at least a couple of races this year, when Verstappen challenged him in a dangerous situation, the Briton has backed down to avoid an accident. But this was his home race, with all his fans, and I believe that Verstappen tried to bully him once too often, and sadly got his comeuppance. I do hope Verstappen has learned his lesson. Sir Lewis is the fairest driver on the grid, he overtakes cleanly, but I feel today he had had enough of Verstappen’s dirty tactics.
Sir Lewis went on to drive one of his finest races and win, even after being given a ten-second penalty. The British fans were ecstatic to see their hero triumph against all odds. Well, he is the hero of all nationalities, but today was his home race, and it meant a lot to him. It was an emotional moment when he put the Union Jack in his car and drove round the track to greet the fans.
Naturally, Christian Horner and Red Bull have said some very untrue and hurtful things about Sir Lewis, and are still pushing for him to be further punished. But Horner should take some responsibility as to why his drivers is so aggressive. He never stops him from behaving badly, an example of that was when Verstappen tried to punch Ocon after a racing incident. There is no way Toto would allow either of his drivers to behave that way, so Horner, it’s up to you, make him behave in and out of the car, and one day he might earn the reputation of being a fair driver.
It was great to see Sir Lewis on the podium and hear the cheers from the fans. I must also mention Charles Leclerc, who drove a fine race to come second, and loyal team-mate Bottas, who gave his support when needed and thoroughly earned his third place. I really hope this partnership continues next year. No disrespect to George Russell, his time will come, but Sir Lewis and Valtteri make a great team.
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