Sil­ver surfer storms the ’stone

F1 Racing (UK) - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

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

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