Lewis Hamilton claimed a thrilling victory at Silverstone on Sunday to win a record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix.
It looked as though teammate Valtteri Bottas would spoil the party for the 141,000 visiting fans, but a timely safety car intervention gifted Hamilton first place. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed an impressive third place after an intense, wheel-to-wheel battle with Max Verstappen throughout the race.
Victory moves Hamilton 39 points clear of Bottas at the top of the driver standings after also securing the bonus point for fastest lap.
But Sebastian Vettel’s bid to stop Hamilton from winning a sixth world title is sinking without a trace after yet another error earned him a 10 second penalty for a crash with Verstappen.
It will take something truly special from one of the other drivers to stop Hamilton from claiming another title. The Brit has been utterly dominant in recent years, winning 53% of all races over the past six seasons.
Every other driver combined in that period has won 47%.
“Silverstone, I love you!” an emotional Hamilton said after the race. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today. I’m forever grateful to all the fans who came. I couldn’t have done it without my team … I’m super proud to be a part of this.
Lewis Hamilton crowd surfed with his adoring fans following his win at Silverstone.
“This is the greatest single moment for any athlete in the world — to raise their flag as the No.1 in their own country. It feels incredible. I’ve never been one to look at statistics and only take one race at the time. I like the pressure I have.
“To have six and be up there with the greats, I remember growing up watching this sport, watching the greats, meeting the greats and even working with the greats. To now be up there with them is one of the cooler things.”
Battle with Bottas
After failing to capitalize on two of his previous three pole positions this season, Bottas revealed in Saturday’s press conference that his start was the part of his race he had been working on most in recent weeks.
All those hours of practice were called upon in the opening three corners, as the Finn fought off an aggressive attack from Hamilton, who was desperate for that sixth victory at Silverstone.
More than 141,000 fans were at Silverstone to watch Hamilton make history.
But Bottas barely had time to breathe before Hamilton was all over him again and this he did go past him, though only very briefly before being forced back into second.
Once the battle for first place had cooled down, the real action was back in the battle for third.
Lap after lap, corner after corner, Verstappen and Leclerc were driving wheel to wheel as the Dutchman looked to get past the Ferrari into the final podium place.The two 21-year-olds — rivals throughout their childhood karting careers — were putting on a masterclass in attacking and defending, with Leclerc narrowly getting the better of his opponent.
Neither was giving away an inch and that extended into the pit lane. Both came in for a tire change and exited at the same time, almost touching coming out of the pits and continued to battle out on the track, with Leclerc continuing to narrowly squeeze out his rival.
But this fight felt personal following the pair’s battle in Austria two weeks ago. Verstappen came out on top then, aggressively muscling Leclerc out of the lead with just one lap remaining.
A timely safety care ensured Valtteri Bottas didn’t spoil the party.
The post-race inquiry took more than three hours before it was eventually decided Verstappen had done nothing wrong and was awarded the win.
Bad luck, Bottas
However, on lap 20 Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi would unwittingly become a protagonist in this action-packed British Grand Prix. The Italian locked up his rear and dumped the car into the gravel, forcing the safety car into action for the next three laps.
Hamilton took the chance to pit with the rest of the field held up behind the safety car and came out to lead his home grand prix for the first time.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for Bottas who had pitted only two laps earlier and, despite driving a faultless race, would once again fail to convert pole into victory.
Before the race was over, there was to be an embarrassing end for four-time world champion Vettel, who is rapidly having a season to forget. The German was hunting down Verstappen on lap 38 and hit the brakes far too late, smashing into the back of the Red Bull.
Vettel was awared a 10 second penalty for his role in the incident and ended up finishing down in 16th place.
Lewis Hamilton has won 53% of all grands prix over the past six years. The Ferrari driver finds himself languishing in fourth in the drivers’ standings and a full 100 points behind Hamilton.
“I’m a bit out of breath,” the Brit said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today in front of my home crowd. “There’s so many British flags out there and every year I see it and you think you get used to it but it feels like the first time and I’m forever grateful to everyone out here I hope you enjoyed the day.
“It was one of the best days I can remember having. I remember my first win here in 2008. “The excitement, happiness and joy that I felt was exactly the same today. You would think after so many races that I would get used to it but today felt just as amazing as the first win I ever had.”