Lewis Hamilton made the most of a favourable safety car intervention yesterday to claim a record sixth British Grand Prix victory at a packed Silverstone.
The defending five-time world champion clocking fastest lap on his final lap to finish 25 seconds clear of Mercedes team-mate and nearest title rival Valtteri Bottas after an action-packed contest.
The Briton moved 39 points clear of the Finn behind in the title race, but Bottas was unlucky with the timing of the safety car which effectively gave Hamilton a free pit stop.
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was third.
Pierre Gasly finished fourth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, whose race was compromised by a late collision when Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari drove into him, and Carlos Sainz of McLaren.
It was Hamilton’s seventh win in 10 races this year and the 80th win of his career.
He had shared the British Grand Prix record of wins, on five, with fellow-Briton Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Renault ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo, Daniil Kvyat and his Toro Rosso team-mate Alex Albon.
“What a day,” said Hamilton. “To all the crowd, thank-you so much for coming out.”
Hamilton, who stopped on his slow-down lap to collect a British ‘Union Jack’ flag, added: “I love you Silverstone. I appreciate everything and the opportunity to be a part of this.
“I couldn’t have done this without these guys or without my team.”
A glum Bottas said: “Congrats to Lewis… It wasn’t my day.”
A much happier Leclerc said “It’s probably the race I’ve enjoyed the most in my career.”
The safety car was deployed when Antonio Giovinazzi spun into a gravel trap in his Alfa Romeo — gifting Hamilton a ‘free’ first, and only, pit stop.
The luckless Bottas, on a two stop strategy, had already pitted before the incident.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel apologised to Max Verstappen immediately after yesterday’s British Grand Prix, acknowledging that he had ruined his rival’s hopes of claiming a podium finish.
Ferrari driver Vettel drove into the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull after the Dutchman had passed him.
Both cars spun off into the gravel before rejoining the race.
“Well, it was my mistake,” said Vettel, who climbed out of his car at the end of the race and went to speak to Verstappen. He leaned into the Red Bull car’s cockpit, shook hands and apologised.
“Obviously, he passed me and then ran a bit wide, which gave me the chance to come back,” said Vettel.
“Then, it looked for a second that he was going to the right and there would be a gap to the left, which didn’t open — and by that time it was too late and I crashed.”
Vettel had to pit for a new nose for his Ferrari car while Verstappen re-joined the fray and finished fifth, missing out on a possible podium finish.
Vettel was given a 10-seconds penalty and two penalty points by the stewards for the crash on lap 37 of the 52-laps race.
“I spoke to him, he apologised immediately after he got out of the car, so that’s it,” said the Dutchman. “You can’t change your line.”
He added that he had also enjoyed his earlier battle with Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc.
“They were really good,” he said. “I think he was a little bit sore from Austria so he was defending really hard.
“But it’s fine. I’m all for that. Of course, I didn’t want to take much risk in those battles to damage the car because I knew we were quite a bit faster.
“I needed to pick my moment, but luckily the team did it for me with a good strategy and then it was looking good for a good result.”— AFP