Lewis Hamilton promised to go on “attack mode” in the world championship battle after closing in to just four points behind his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg with victory in his home Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Hamilton won his second British Grand Prix, equalling Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of 27 wins, after race leader Rosberg dropped out of the race with gearbox issues. Hamilton had been catching him at that point, having run a longer first stint and was setting himself up to attack in the final stint. But Rosberg’s first retirement of the season took away the need to pass. Hamilton was joined on the podium by Valtteri Bottas, who was outstanding in the Williams and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
It was an extraordinary race and a podium to reflect that; the winner started 6th on the grid, the second placed driver 14th and the third placed started 8th. That doesn’t happen every day.
Last year Hamilton led the race comfortably until a tyre delamination saw him exit the race and Rosberg picked up the pieces to win.
But twelve months later and he was the beneficiary of Rosberg’s retirement.
“I had my eyes focussed on getting that win. I could see the fans as I came through the various corner complexes around the circuit, seeing them cheering me on. It’s like we win and we lose together and we did it together today, ” said Hamilton.
With a weekend of mixed conditions the Grand Prix was held in not-so typical British sunshine, but was split by an hour long break due to armco barrier repairs. On the opening lap Kimi Raikkonen exited turn four, running wide on to the tarmac before rejoining the circuit. A bump as he rejoined pitched the car sideways and heavily in to the barrier before sweeping back across the circuit, narrowly avoiding heavy contact with any others.
Felipe Massa was the unfortunate one to not avoid the Ferrari, the Brazilian managing to have only light relatively contact with the car ahead. The race was promptly red flagged to tend to Raikkonen, who took himself out of his car only suffering bruises to his legs, as well as to fix the dented barrier.
One hour later and the race was resumed behind the Safety Car.
Hamilton had moved from sixth to fourth in the opening lap at the disadvantage of Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel and after the restart he made short work of the McLaren pair ahead.
First Kevin Magnussen was disposed of before Jenson Button lost a place on the following lap. Hamilton was now second, five seconds off the lead with clear air between himself and Rosberg. The gap was narrowed to set up another inciting intra-team battle for victory, but we were not able to enjoy that as Rosberg pulled on to the grass in the Maggots-Becketts complex for his first non-finish of the season. Hamilton eventually won by thirsty seconds.
Behind, though, there was plenty of action to be enjoyed. Bottas’s first stint was phenomenal as he moved up from a fourteenth place start to third with an abundance of overtakes around the outside at Stowe. The Finn takes his second consecutive podium, this being his best career result and puts Williams three points off third placed Ferrari.
Next up and also with something to prove after a mistake in qualifying, Ricciardo made use of a one-stop strategy to take third place for Red Bull. The Australian had the McLaren of Button in his mirrors as the race drew to a close but the British driver was unable to take his first and a very popular podium.
The fourth place matches his career best at Silverstone on a stronger weekend for McLaren that saw Magnussen come home in seventh.
Between the two McLarens was the battle of the day. Fernando Alonso – up for Driver of the Day with Bottas – started in sixteenth place, eased his way up to fourth place before being subject to a FIA penalty. Replays showed that the Spaniard missed his grid slot at the original start and was handed a five-second stop/go penalty when he took his first pit stop.
However, that set back did not deter him as he completed the race with that lone stop. In the final twenty laps he turned the first corner to see Vettel exiting the pits on a new set of medium tyres. After some close racing around the following corners Alonso swept around the outside of Vettel at Copse to take fifth place.
But Vettel had more to give. After complaining of Alonso running wide too often at Copse and now with warm tyres he put pressure on the Ferrari driver, initially to no avail.
Trying the outside move at Brooklands twice the door was firmly shut. In the closing laps Vettel tried the move once more before putting his nose up the inside at Luffield and setting up a drag race to Copse. With the inside line Vettel was able to regain the place and bring home a further ten points for Red Bull.
British Grand Prix, Silverstone, Race, 52 Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2h26m52.094s
2. Valtteri Bottas Williams +30.135s
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +46.495s
4. Jenson Button McLaren +47.390s
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +53.864s
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +59.946s
7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren +1m02.563s
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1m28.692s
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1m29.340s
10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso -1 lap
11. Sergio Perez Force India -1 lap
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus -1 lap
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber -1 lap
14. Jules Bianchi Marussia -1 lap
15. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham -2 laps
16. Max Chilton Marussia -2 laps
17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus -3 laps