Formula One: Lewis Hamilton wins second successive British Grand Prix
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton won his second successive British Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead in the championship standings over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton won his second successive British Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead in the championship standings over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton - the first British driver since David Coulthard in 1999/2000 to post successive wins in the race - came home 10 seconds clear of Rosberg in yet another Mercedes 1-2, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in third.
Hamilton - whose victory was watched by 140,000 people the largest attendance since 1992 - took his points tally to 194 and a lead of 17 over Rosberg, who had narrowed the gap to 10 prior to this weekend.
Recovering after losing his pole position advantage at the start, Hamilton stormed back into contention and regained the lead with a superbly-executed pit-stop to win by 10.956 seconds. It was his third win in his home race, his fifth win this year and the 38th win of his career.
Four-time champion Vettel took full advantage of the changing conditions with an equally well-timed stop to switch to intermediate tyres during the showers to finish third.
"Thank you everyone for coming out today and making my weekend," said Hamilton, praising the fans. "I really wanted to do it for you guys. I am so thankful for all the support. I could see all the fans on every lap in the corner of my eye and they spurred me on. My clutch was good this time! But we had quite poor grip at the start - the same for Nico, but it made the race more exciting. I just kept pushing and, for the first time in my career, I made the perfect choice tyre-wise! How do I feel? I am so elated you cannot imagine. I felt tears on the last lap, I was just hoping I could do it for all the guys. Thanks for all the support. Now let's party..."
Rosberg accepted his defeat gracefully. "I was pushing hard to try and catch Lewis under difficult conditions," he said. "But he made the better call and that is where I lost it. Fair play to him."
Vettel admitted the typically English weather conditions had played in his favour. "Without the rain, we would not be on the podium. We kept our head down and were patient enough until the rain poured down," said Vettel.
"That is England for you! We made the right choices and the team did a great job." Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had led from the start until lap 20, ended up finishing fourth ahead of his Williams team-mate Finn Valtteri Bottas.
The race was punctuated by a Safety Car on the opening lap after a multiple collision that removed both Lotus cars and Fernando Alonso's luckless team-mate Briton Jenson Button. The grid was busy with British royalty and celebrities, including three of former pop sensations The Spice Girls - one of whom Geri Halliwell is married to Red Bull boss Christian Horner - before the start.
When the lights went out, Massa made an astonishing start from third, his Williams streaking between the two Mercedes men to take the lead. Bottas followed, but Hamilton resisted and, after a scrap through the opening corners, the champion regained second.
Behind them, on a tumultuous opening lap, a multiple crash at the Village loop corner saw the two Lotuses collide and the two McLaren Hondas do the same. Of the four, only Alonso survived and, following a lengthy pit stop, he re-joined the fray and eventually finished 10th. "There was nothing Fernando could do, he didn't drive into me," said Button. "He was taking avoiding action."
Hamilton assumed control when the three drivers ahead of him pitted, after laps 20 and 21. The Englishman swiftly opened up a four seconds lead ahead of Massa and took control while Australian Daniel Ricciardo, a frustrated figure this year, completed a miserable weekend by retiring his Red Bull.
Hamilton's move meant, too, that he was leading for an 18th race in succession, breaking a 45-year-old record previously held by Jackie Stewart. In masterly fashion, he drew clear by six seconds by lap 34 and was rarely under pressure after that.