The key questions in the pulsating battle for F1 supremacy
In the moments after his contentious win at the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton declared his championship battle with Max Verstappen back on.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the key questions surrounding the best Formula One title tussle in recent memory.
Is Hamilton back in the championship fight?
Yes. The Mercedes driver ended a five-race losing streak with a superb, albeit controversial, comeback victory at Silverstone.
Following Verstappen’s run of four victories in five, Hamilton might have felt winning was his only option. Indeed, another triumph for Verstappen on Sunday would have moved him 40 points clear.
But the Dutchman’s failure to finish and Hamilton’s eighth victory on home turf has blown the championship race back open with 13 scheduled rounds still remaining.
Who was at fault for the crash?
The stewards penalised Hamilton with a 10-second penalty, but an overriding consensus was hard to come by in the Silverstone paddock late on Sunday night.
Could Verstappen have afforded Hamilton more room? Did Hamilton have enough time to back out? Should Verstappen have toned down the aggressive dial to preserve his championship lead? Was Hamilton finally laying down a marker to his rival after conceding on a number similar of occasions this year?Revved up by the euphoric Silverstone crowd, the simple reality is that neither man was prepared to give way. Does there always need to be someone at fault? Perhaps, the accident should be filed under R for racing incident.
What impact will the accident have on the rest of the season?
Although tensions have been simmering, Hamilton’s relationship with Verstappen has been largely cordial. That changed on Sunday with Verstappen tweeting from his hospital bed that Hamilton’s victory celebrations were “unsportsmanlike” and “disrespectful”.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did little to ease the tension by claiming Hamilton put his star driver’s life in jeopardy. The Mercedes driver later responded by insisting he has nothing to apologise for.
Is Hamilton’s stature blemished?
In 15 and a half seasons and 276 Grands Prix, Hamilton has earned a reputation as one of the cleanest world champions in F1 history.
Ayrton Senna admitted to ramming Alain Prost off the road in their title decider at Suzuka in 1990, citing unfair treatment from the FIA, while Michael Schumacher’s career was littered with a catalogue of off-colour moves.
But Hamilton has driven into the record books without resorting to the dark arts. And while he was unusually aggressive on Sunday – perhaps in a sign that Verstappen is getting under his skin – the 36-year-old has hardly become a dirty driver overnight.
The grid will convene for the Hungarian Grand Prix a week on Sunday for the concluding round before the sport’s summer shutdown.
Hamilton has won the Budapest race more times than anyone but it is a track which has played to Red Bull’s strengths in recent seasons.
With hostilities between the Mercedes and Red Bull camps still likely to be high, buckle up for another thrilling chapter in this season’s scintillating title fight.