After a brilliant scrap at the beginning of the race with pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton took advantage of a Safety Car to get ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and went on to claim another win in front of his home fans.
“Oh what a day – I love you Silverstone,” said Hamilton, who waved a Union Jack flag from his Mercedes car after the race. “You think you’d get used to something like that, but it feels like the first time.”
A fastest lap on the last lap of the race gave Hamilton, who broke Jim Clark’s 52-year record by making it six British GP wins, a bonus point – and means he has extended his championship lead to 39 points.
“I will keep fighting, it’s not over yet,” added an understandably downbeat Bottas – second in the race and second in the drivers’ standings.
But while Mercedes were often in a league of their own, Ferrari and Red Bull were embroiled in near-constant battles and controversy on Sunday as Verstappen first made contact with Charles Leclerc, before being shunted into by Vettel.
Verstappen overtook the Ferrari into Stowe to take third place, but then Vettel rear-ended the Red Bull under-braking into Vale and both cars span into the gravel.
Vettel was handed a 10s time penalty for the collision by race stewards, and ended the race down in 16th after pitting due to the damage sustained.
Verstappen managed to stay out and eventually finished fifth behind Leclerc, who completed the podium after dazzling in attack and defence, and Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly.
“It’s probably the race I enjoyed the most in my Formula 1 career,” said Leclerc, whose pass around the outside of Gasly into Village was arguably the move of an incredible day of racing.
Carlos Sainz was a superb sixth for McLaren ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, while young rookies Lando Norris and Alex Albon were unfortunate to miss out on the points.
British GP Race Result – Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
6. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
8. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
9. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
Super Silverstone delivers an F1 epic
“It was a fantastic British Grand Prix,” said Sky F1’s Jenson Button. “One of the best I’ve ever seen.”
And it was drama from the off.
After Bottas kept his lead into Turn One, Hamilton was relentless in his pursuit of his team-mate and the two Mercedes went head to head, evoking memories of 2014 to 2016.
But while Hamilton got ahead of Bottas around the outside of Luffield on lap four, the Finn was determined and re-overtook the home favourite into Stowe – and held the race lead when he pitted on Lap 16.
Hamilton, however, stayed out, and four laps later the race played into his hands as an Antonio Giovinazzi spin into the gravel led to a Safety Car. Hamilton took his first stop while Bottas was adhering to the SC conditions – and comfortably emerged from the pits ahead.
An intense scrap, meanwhile, was developing between Leclerc and Verstappen – the chief protagonists from a controversial Austrian GP finish.
Red Bull had jumped Ferrari in the first stops before being passed again, with Leclerc getting his elbows out and aiming to avoid a repeat of his defeat to the Dutchman a fortnight ago. But the Safety Car dropped him down to sixth as Ferrari were slow to pit him, and he then got after Verstappen again.
Such was the ferocity of the two young drivers, a collision always seemed likely and they did make contact on lap 25 with Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson describing Leclerc’s move around the outside of Club as “cheeky” and the incident as “hard racing”.
Verstappen was soon let through to fourth by Gasly and got after Vettel, who like Hamilton, had benefited from the Safety Car. The Red Bull had immense pace and passed the third-placed Ferrari through Stowe, before Vettel miscalculated Verstappen’s next move into Vale and rammed into the back of the RB15.
It was another error in wheel-to-wheel combat from the German, as last year’s winner took zero points.
Verstappen and Vettel falling back opened the door to Leclerc, who rose back up to third place – and deservedly so considering his performance, and incredible overtake on Gasly.
Hamilton, meanwhile, wouldn’t be stopped and comfortably held a buffer over his team-mate, who then had to stop again at the end of the race. The home favourite even revealed his incredible pace by posting the fastest lap on worn hard tyres.
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