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Alice Powell: Hamilton deserved his Silverstone penalty

by Josh Suttill
5 min read

In her latest column on The Race, Alice Powell delivers her verdict on the controversial British Grand Prix clash between Formula 1 title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, as well as reflecting on her second W Series victory of the season and her new role in Formula E

I was stood at Silverstone just in shock at the incident. I couldn’t believe what I was watching, two title rivals coming together on the very first lap of the race.

Both drivers know how important it is to maximise points race-by-race, as I know for my W Series championship push as well. To see their rivalry boil up across the weekend and then boil over with the collision was very dramatic.

More than anything, I’m glad Max Verstappen is relatively OK after the incident. It was a hard impact and as soon as I saw the contact I thought in my head ‘that’s going to hurt’ because it’s a really fast corner and F1 cars take that flat out.

The 10s penalty given to Hamilton was fair. I know how fast that corner is and it’s such a tough corner to overtake at having raced the track myself.

Verstappen knew he was there and gave Hamilton just enough room but unfortunately, it was one of those where they did end up touching and that’s added far more fuel onto the fire between these two now.

Whether or not you can overtake at Copse depends on the run you can get. It’s such a fast corner, you have to be a considerable amount alongside to make it work.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Qualifying Day Silverstone, England

I’ve seen many drivers in junior categories racing at that corner and they’ve produced similar incidents.

F1 cars are travelling a lot faster so it’s not really a place to make an overtake unless you’re fully committed and fully down the inside.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said “you don’t stick a wheel up the inside” at that corner and I can see where he’s coming from, although his assertions that it was “dirty driving” and hints that Hamilton deserves a race ban are wide of the mark.

There are high-speed corners like the Maggots/Becketts complex where it’s very unlikely – and probably stupid – if you try and stick a wheel down the inside of somebody there because it’s such a high-speed corner.

Whereas if you’re overtaking into a slower corner, like going into the Brooklands left-hander or into the Vale chicane where I made my pass for the lead of the W Series race, it’s far easier to overtake and it’s far safer.

Overtaking at Copse is risky but then again, it’s easy for us to sit at home and say you definitely shouldn’t overtake there, but there will be times when the move is possible at that corner.

Verstappen is a tough competitor and he’s probably just about calmed down now but he’ll be absolutely determined to get one over on Hamilton in Budapest.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Race Day Silverstone, England

There’s been a huge debate about who was at fault and there’s also been horrific comments on social media directed towards both drivers. It’s been shocking to see the death threats and racist comments.

We want to see good racing, and incidents are inevitable but it’s shameful to see that people can write such awful comments about drivers who are risking their lives to put on a show for millions of people worldwide.

Another W Series triumph

Motor Racing W Series Race Day Silverstone, England

Silverstone was a weekend that I’m never going to forget. To be racing at home anyway is amazing but to win in front of my home crowd was extra special.

It was a crazy week, the fans and the support were absolutely outstanding and I loved every second of the weekend.

I didn’t get the best race start so I dropped into second place from pole position behind Fabienne Wohlwend, but I was so determined to get past – I tried a lot of different lines and I just tried to fill her mirrors with my car as much as possible.

Then the safety car came out and set up a seven-minute showdown. I knew I had to attack as soon as the race restarted and I put on as much pressure as I could.

Wohlwend made a small error into the Vale chicane, and I managed to cut back and make the move at the final corner. When I saw her go slightly wide, I knew this was my chance and I stuck my car down the inside, she gave me the room and the move paid off.

I don’t even know how big my championship lead is, I’m just focused on winning as many races as possible because a lot can happen in just a few races.

A new role in Formula E

Alice Powell Envision Virgin Formula E test 2020

I participated in the rookie test with Envision Virgin’s Formula E team last year and I was set to do the same again this year until that was cancelled.

In a way with no gear changes, the car is like driving a direct drive go-kart, but there are so many different elements to Formula E like energy saving and harvesting.

Envision Virgin got in touch and offered me the simulator driver role and I’ve been doing work for them for the last couple of races.

It’s a great team of hard-working people, they have two fantastic drivers in Robin Frijns and Nick Cassidy and I’m proud to be working with the team.

I’ll be trying to help the team scoop its first teams’ championship in the final two rounds and for one of the drivers to pick up the individual crown too.

Formula E is exactly the kind of championship that I’d love to race in and W Series has certainly helped give me a leg up, both in terms of racing experience and greater visibility to prospective employers.

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