Sil­ver lin­ing lifts Lewis gloom

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

SIL­VER­STONE, Eng­land — Just like his tire, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s cham­pi­onship ad­van­tage was shred­ded at the Bri­tish Grand Prix.

A 20-point lead was slashed to a sin­gle point by Lewis Hamil­ton af­ter the Mercedes driver went wire-to-wire to snare his fourth win of the sea­son as Vet­tel ca­pit­u­lated halfway through the cam­paign.

Vet­tel was never in re­al­is­tic con­tention for vic­tory on Sun­day, but was still third en­ter­ing the penul­ti­mate lap — a fin­ish that would have en­sured 10 points still sep­a­rated him from Hamil­ton.

But Sil­ver­stone wit­nessed a re­mark­able col­lapse, a fi­nal twist on an af­ter­noon of thrilling rac­ing.

A front-left blowout on Vet­tel’s Fer­rari sent rub­ber rem­nants of the tire fly­ing across the track as the four-time world cham­pion crawled back into the pits for re­pairs just in time.

It en­sured Vet­tel was still able to fin­ish sev­enth and col­lect the points that kept him top head­ing into the Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix on July 30.

“It could have been a bit bet­ter for sure, but a dis­as­ter? I don’t think so,” Vet­tel said. “I don’t think there is any­one par­tic­u­larly to blame.”

Trou­blingly for Fer­rari, Vet­tel’s tire trou­ble struck a lap af­ter team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen’s car also ex­pe­ri­enced a punc­ture as he was set for sec­ond. It al­lowed Valt­teri Bot­tas to com­plete a Mercedes one-

Score­board

two with Hamil­ton, with Raikko­nen third.

“I don’t wish any mis­for­tune on any­one,” Bri­ton Hamil­ton said. “But we didn’t have any is­sues.”

Un­like the last two races when Hamil­ton lost ground in the cham­pi­onship.

There was a faulty head­rest in Azer­bai­jan that con­trib­uted to Hamil­ton fin­ish­ing fifth, fol­lowed by a five-place grid penalty for an unau­tho­rized gear­box in Aus­tria where he was fourth.

Now Hamil­ton is back on top of the podium, for a record-equal­ing fifth time at his home race.

“Ob­vi­ously the pen­du­lum has swung this week­end,” Hamil­ton said. “That is only good for For­mula One and good for the fans with the close bat­tle we con­tinue to have.”

He wasn’t on the podium for long. Soon he was among the fans who roared him to glory, vault­ing out of the pit lane and crowd-surf­ing.

The cel­e­bra­tion car­ried a pointed mes­sage to crit­ics of his fail­ure to at­tend a show­case of the sport in cen­tral Lon­don that was at­tended by the 19 other driv­ers. Un­like in Trafal­gar Square, there cer­tainly weren’t any jeers of Hamil­ton’s name as he joined Jim Clark and Alain Prost as five-time win­ners of the race.

“There is no rea­son to ques­tion my prepa­ra­tions,” Hamil­ton said. “There was so much neg­a­tiv­ity try­ing to pull the week­end down but ob­vi­ously it had no ef­fect ... the fans were out-and-out lov­ing and sup­port­ive all week­end.”

Per­haps re­cu­per­at­ing with two-day hol­i­days in Greece is now the blue­print for Hamil- ton in his quest for a fourth world ti­tle.

“I don’t un­der­stand why the Bri­tish hero was be­ing beaten up be­fore his home grand prix,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said. “l think that made him even more de­ter­mined.”

There was also an un­ex­pected sec­ond-place fin­ish af­ter Bot­tas made up seven places fol­low­ing a five-place penalty for a gear­box change like Hamil­ton’s a week ear­lier.

As Bot­tas surged up the or­der there was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing bat­tle with Vet­tel for third that the Fin­nish driver won on lap 44 of 51.

There was also com­bat­ive rac­ing early on be­tween Vet­tel and Max Ver­stap­pen as they ini­tially fought for third in a wheel-to-wheel chal­lenge.

“He wants to play bumper cars or some­thing,” Ver­stap­pen com­plained over the team ra­dio as Vet­tel at­tempted to over­take him on the in­side af­ter 14 of 51 laps.

Thanks to Vet­tel’s mis­for­tune, Ver­stap­pen was able to fin­ish fourth, hav­ing pro­vided much early en­ter­tain­ment, while Red Bull team­mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was fifth.

“At the be­gin­ning I knew I was quite a bit slower than Seb so I just did my best to stay in front and have some fun,” Ver­stap­pen said. “It was the only thing I could do and luck­ily he didn’t man­age to pass me on track. Af­ter that lit­tle bat­tle my race be­came a bit lonely.”

TI­BOR IL­LYES/MTI VIA AP

China’s Ren Qian and Si Ya­jie com­pete en route to win­ning the gold medal in the women's 10m syn­chro­nized plat­form div­ing fi­nal at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships in Bu­da­pest, Hun­gary, on Sun­day. In other re­sults, Peng Jian­feng clinched the men’s 1m spring­board ti­tle, and Chi­nese twins Jiang Wen­wen and Jiang Tingt­ing took the sil­ver medal in syn­chro­nized swim­ming, bring­ing China’s tally af­ter two days of fi­nals to three golds and three sil­vers.

FRANK AUGSTEIN / AP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamil­ton is car­ried by fans af­ter win­ning the Bri­tish For­mula One Grand Prix at Sil­ver­stone, Eng­land, on Sun­day.

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