SILVERSTONE, England – A timely safety-car period catapulted Lewis Hamilton to his record sixth British Grand Prix victory during Sunday’s Formula One stop at the Silverstone Circuit.
Hamilton, who ran second to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas for the first 16 laps, saw his fortunes turn when he elected to stay out on the 17th tour as Bottas came down pit lane for fresh tires.
That put Hamilton into the race lead, a position that proved to be fortuitous when the yellow flag waved three laps later after Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi went off and got stuck in the gravel on-course.
As the field slowed behind the safety car, Hamilton was able to utilize a 20-second lead to pit for hard-compound Pirelli tires and still come out in front of Bottas at the head of the field.
From there, the scales tipped and it became Hamilton’s race, as he raced away from Bottas on the only restart of the race at lap 24 and methodically paced the field the rest of the way en route to victory.
Hamilton took the checkered flag in front of Bottas by 24.928 seconds, after Bottas pitted a second time for fresh tires inside of 10 to go, for his seventh win in 10 races this year and his 80th F-1 victory overall.
The Briton also set a new lap record of 1:27.369 on the final lap to earn an extra bonus point.
“I’m honestly a bit out of breath after that one,” admitted Hamilton in parc ferme. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be (standing) here today, in front of a home crowd, with my whole family here and with this incredible team. There’s so many British flags out there and I could see them, lap after lap today.
“You would think you’d get used to something like that, but it still feels like the first time,” he added. “I’m just a link in the chain today. It took a team effort to get this one done, and we obviously caught a break with being able to pit under that safety car. Just an incredible day all around.”
Bottas, who started from the pole and was in control during the opening stint, found himself on the wrong end of the yellow flag Sunday and had to settle with a disappointing runner-up finish.
“I don’t know, really, what to say,” admitted Bottas. “Obviously, congrats to Lewis on a great performance, but we got hurt by that safety car. I stopped first and had been controlling the pace, but Lewis got a free stop there and then … because we were on the mediums, we had to stop again.
“It’s tough to lose one like that, but we still had a lot of positives from this weekend that I’m proud of and I’ll keep fighting. It just wasn’t my day in the end today.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc completed the podium, his fourth-straight top-three finish, with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly tying his career-best F-1 finish just behind Leclerc in fourth.
Gasly’s teammate, Max Verstappen, capped off the top five despite being rear-ended by Sebastian Vettel with 15 to go under braking. The collision caused both drivers to spin after battling for third.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz crossed sixth, followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
Vettel had to pit for a new front wing after his collision with Verstappen and could never recover, finishing 16th among the 17 drivers who made it to the checkered flag. Adding insult to injury, the four-time champion was also assessed a 10-second time penalty by the stewards for causing a collision.
Hamilton now leads the driver’s championship by 39 points over Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg, Lando Norris, Alexander Albon, Lance Stroll, George Russell, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen.