Formula One

Hamilton victorious at Silverstone epic

Lewis Hamilton won a classic British Grand Prix from sixth on the grid after Nico Rosberg retired with a gearbox failure, as the title battle took another dramatic twist.

Valtteri Bottas followed up his first F1 podium in Austria with his best ever finish in the sport, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who continued to outperform his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

The race was delayed for nearly an hour following a high speed crash for Kimi Raikkonen which heavily damaged the barriers on the first lap.

As the lights went out Jenson Button made a fantastic start off the line to move ahead of Vettel who was soon down the order, as Kevin Magnussen took advantage and Rosberg maintained the lead.

Hamilton started sixth after aborting his final qualifying lap, but made up for his mistake by finding himself in fourth after the first four corners. A good start allowed him past a tardy Nico Hulkenberg, before he forced a way through into fourth following a banging of wheels with Vettel.

Coming onto the Wellington Straight Raikkonen ran wide before smashing into the barriers at 150mph, collecting Felipe Massa as he slid back across the track – who despite his best efforts could not avoid a collision.

Raikkonen emerged limping from the wreckage following his 47G impact and was taken to the medical centre where he was diagnosed with bruising to his ankles. The race was subsequently red flagged whilst barrier repairs were completed and debris removed. The Marussia of Max Chilton was lucky not to be directly hit by a stray wheel, but received a stop-go penalty for pitting during a red flag period.

The race re-started behind the safety car for a single lap as Rosberg bolted to take a large lead over Button and Magnussen. Hamilton closed up to the back of the Dane and was soon past when he shaped up a move into Copse, Magnussen held his position but ran wide trying to outbreak the Brit.

As Hamilton cleared his old team-mate Button into Brooklands, Bottas continued his fine start from 14th by overtaking Daniil Kvyat, before a move around the outside of Ricciardo into Stowe gave him seventh.

Bottas was on a charge with his second move into Stowe, this time around the outside of Hulkenberg for sixth, as Fernando Alonso dispatched Kvyat of ninth place onto the old pit straight.

The sole remaining Ferrari was soon up to seventh as he passed both Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. The Spaniard’s recovery drive would later be disrupted following a 5 second stop-go penalty for being out of his grid position on the original race start.

Lap 10 saw a retirement for the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez following a coming together with Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus. Gutierrez arrived too fast and too late into the Vale chicane, launching Maldonado into the air in what was almost the reverse of Bahrain. The Lotus was remarkably able to continue.

Vettel was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 11, allowing Bottas up another place to fifth as the German re-joined in 11th. The Williams passed Magnussen for fourth at Stowe before yet another move into the same corner just a few laps later saw him impressively take Button around the outside for a place in the top three.

Alonso meanwhile continued to show his experience with a bold move into Stowe on Magnussen, as Ricciardo pitted from seventh.

Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 17 as he eked away at his Mercedes team-mate’s lead. The 29 year old continued to set the pace on the next lap, whilst his race engineer came over the radio with a motivational message: “its hammer time.”

Rosberg pitted on the same lap, which was greeted by a cheer from the crowd as Hamilton took the lead for the first time, before pitting himself six laps later. The British driver went the opposite way to Rosberg’s Medium, Medium stint by switching onto the harder tyre compound, whilst the aforementioned Rosberg reported “problems on the downshift”.

Despite another slow pit stop Hamilton showed impressive pace on the ‘Hard’ tyre, taking a full second out of his team mate on lap 27 and then a further two seconds next time round.

Two laps later whilst going into Turn Three and Rosberg lost his gears completely, the crowd erupted as he slowed onto the Wellington straight, allowing Hamilton to take the lead. This was met by another roar of delight as the German parked up on the grass at the Maggotts/Becketts complex.

For the first occasion this season the pendulum of luck swung into Hamilton’s favour, as he received a welcome slice of good fortune in the process of his team-mate’s first DNF of the year.

Alonso took his penalty during his only pit stop as he began an epic battle with Vettel. As the Red Bull driver returned onto his out-lap from his final pit stop, Alonso passed with a brave move around the outside of Copse, nearing speeds of 160mph.

Each driver repeatedly complained about the other for exceeding track limits and defensive manoeuvres, as the quadruple World Champion’s fresher tyres made the difference in the fight for fifth place.

A move into Brooklands didn’t pay off on two attempts for Vettel, however he got the job done putting complete trust into Alonso on the run into Copse in what was a master class of wheel-to-wheel racing.

Button put a late charge on Ricciardo, but was unable to take a first podium at Silverstone as he settled for an equal best fourth place finish just 0.8 seconds down.

Magnussen came home seventh, ahead of Force India’s Hulkenberg and the Toro Rossos of Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne who took the final point’s positions.

A deafening roar greeted Hamilton as he crossed the line with a 30 second comfort to take his second British Grand prix win, exactly six years to the day since his last. The 120,000 British fans will remember the 2008 victory fondly, as he went on to win the Drivers title that season.

On the podium, the 2008 World Champion admitted how the crowd played dividends: “It’s you guys who spurred me on so thank you so much.

“We have the greatest fans here. I couldn’t have done it without you. I don’t want to see a team-mate fail, I want a one-two, but I really needed this result.

“I honestly feel I had the pace today, I was catching Nico in the first stint and was feeling pretty comfortable. I never want to see my team-mate fail like that. I was looking forward to a wheel-to-wheel battle but I’m sure we’ll get many in the future.”

Following this result Hamilton has reignited his Championship challenge by cutting his team-mate’s lead to just four points in the standings. Formula One now heads to the Hockenheimring in Germany on July 20th for what will be Rosberg’s home race.

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