Lewis Hamilton claims third British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Exciting race sees Mercedes take top two spots on the podium again
Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, his third success in his home race. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix in a race that was like a transfusion of fresh blood for the much-criticised sport.
It was Hamilton’s third win at Silverstone, after his successes in 2008 and last year, but he is still behind the British drivers Jim Clark (five) and Nigel Mansell (four). The win extended his championship lead over his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to 17 points.
Rosberg was second, ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. But it might have been so much better for Williams after a sensational start to the race that had as much excitement as all of the other eight races put together.
Towards the end of the race, we even had rain to cause more mayhem and unpredictability. It was a thrilling afternoon.
Massa made an inspired start, surging ahead of Rosberg and the pole-sitting Hamilton. When the Briton tried to put pressure on Massa and ran wide, he handed second place to Bottas, with Rosberg fourth. It even looked possible that Williams could win their first race since 2012, and it would have been Massa’s first victory since 2008. Overtaking can be very difficult at Silverstone.
But Mercedes responded aggressively, bringing in Hamilton for an early stop and allowing him to jump the Williams pair, who suffered even more when the rain came.
The unusual experience of running one and two seemed to confuse Williams. At first they told their drivers not to race each other. Then, when Bottas told them he was the faster man they gave them the go-ahead to do exactly that. Bottas had wanted to be let through. But the Williams chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, said: “No we are not going to say let him through, we will allow them to race, it is the Williams way. It gets the heart beating but it is the way we choose to do it. We told them not to race while we sorted out how we thought Mercedes reacted to the race position.”
But Williams suffered because Massa, as the leader, was brought into the pits before his team-mate and Bottas was always the likelier to make life tough for Hamilton.
Judged on the weekend overall, the least Williams deserved was third and fourth. But even that was denied them because of some quick thinking by Ferrari, who brought Vettel in for inters just before the rain came with about eight of the 52 laps remaining.
Fernando Alonso was 10th, scoring his first point of the season, but he put his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button out of the race on the very first lap, the consequence of another clash between the Lotus pair, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
So Button is still looking for his first podium at Silverstone. But there weren’t many expressions of disappointment here on Sunday.