Silver surfer storms the ’stone
Hamilton’s fourth British GP win was as brilliant – and popular – as anything ever seen at Silverstone
The insurance people must surely have winced as Lewis Hamilton went crowdsurfing not once, but twice, after a sensational British Grand Prix victory that brought him to within a point of his world championship-leading team-mate Nico Rosberg. And they would have winced again as he tossed the venerable Royal Automobile Club trophy – awarded to every British Grand Prix winner since 1948 – into the air as he stood atop the podium.
Hamilton set pole position with a new lap record for this Silverstone track configuration and owned the race, from Safety Car start through to comfortable finish, conducting his Mercedes W07 Hybrid through changing conditions with barely a slip. A cloudburst as the field assembled on the grid left the track thoroughly drenched, but it had already stopped raining by the time the race had got under way behind Safety Car driver Bernd Mayländer’s Mercedes AMG GT-S.
Aquaplaning over the large areas of standing water was less of a problem than keeping up brake and tyre temperatures, and at one point Hamilton came close to colliding with the Safety Car at Copse as he tried to remedy his glazed rear discs. After five slow laps, Hamilton raced away at the green flag, backing the field up early at Stowe and then stepping on the gas, leaving second-placed Rosberg trailing behind.
Nearly half the field – among them Sebastian Vettel, starting outside the top ten after a gearbox-change penalty – pitted for intermediate tyres at the green flag. But the leading group left it for another two laps and that proved the best policy, since Pascal Wehrlein spun his Manor into the wall at Abbey. Race control put the track under Virtual Safety Car conditions, enabling Hamilton, Rosberg and Max Verstappen to pit and emerge with a comfortable margin over the following pack.
Force India’s Sergio Pérez also benefitted from stopping at this point to run fourth, having started from tenth, and he would prove an impediment to Daniel Ricciardo’s progress in the second Red Bull. Practice and qualifying had validated the growing belief that Red Bull are now very much Formula 1’s second-best team, ahead of Ferrari, but Verstappen was the star of their show today.
The Dutch teenager was arguably even more impressive here than in Spain, where he secured his first victory. He ran third initially before mugging Rosberg for second when the Mercedes