Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix for the second time as team mate and early race leader, Nico Rosberg, retired with a gearbox problem.
The race was delayed for more than an hour after a crash on the first lap involving Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Raikkonen ran wide at Aintree corner, and lost control while attempting to rejoin the track. The Ferrari driver hit the barriers hard, before his car careered back across the track.
Kamui Kobayashi was lucky to just avoid the 2007 World Champion, but Felipe Massa, who had made a poor start, wasn’t so lucky. Massa, in his 200th race made contact with the Ferrari, but it was only the Brazilian’s brilliant reactions that prevented an even bigger impact.
Raikkonen was able to limp away from the car, and with damage to the barriers, the red flag was brought out before the end of the first lap. Massa would be able to return to the grid, but his car was retired before the restart
Before the crash, Hamilton had already been making his way up the order. He dispatched Nico Hulkenberg off the line, before passing Sebastian Vettel, who had made a poor start, into village corner.
The order at the end of the first lap was therefore Rosberg leading, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in second and third places respectively. Hamilton was fourth, ahead of Vettel, who held off Hulkenberg.
Once the race restarted after extensive barrier repairs, it was advantage Rosberg. The championship leader immediately pulled away from Button. He quickly opened a five second lead as Hamilton fought his way past both Magnussen and Button to move up to second place.
The Mercedes cars then asserted their dominance over the chasing pack, with Rosberg and Hamilton trading fastest laps. Further back, it was Fernando Alonso who was on the move, passing both Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo for eighth place on just one lap. Things weren’t all plain sailing for the double champion however, who was under investigation after starting out of position. He was soon handed a five second stop/go penalty which he duly served during his first pit stop.
The sole remaining Williams of Valtteri Bottas was also making up ground. He had started from fourteenth on the grid, but quick progress saw him soon in the top five. After passing Button for third, the Finn asserted himself comfortably in the final podium position.
Esteban Gutierrez was in the wars early on. The Sauber driver came into contact with Pastor Maldonado at Vale with Gutierrez coming off worse for wear. After dropping several places, he would beach his car in the farm curve gravel trap. His race was over, but fortunately another safety car was not required.
At the front of the race, it became evident that the two Mercedes drivers were on differing strategies. Rosberg pitted from the lead of the race at the end of lap 18, but Hamilton carried on for another six. The British driver was flying and was catching Rosberg by more than a second per lap after he made his stop, but ultimately the crowd were a denied a battle for the win.
Rosberg slowed on lap 29 with gearbox problems, allowing Hamilton to easily take the lead. The former would continue to trundle around the circuit, before coasting to a halt after Maggots and Becketts as he posted his first retirement of the 2014 season. Suddenly Valtteri Bottas was promoted to second, with Daniel Ricciardo on target to take the final step on the podium.
Hamilton now held a comfortable lead and only had to nurse his car to the finish, but the last laps were enlivened by a terrific battle between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Alonso overtook Vettel around the outside of Copse for fifth place, but on older tyres could not pull free from the Red Bull. Vettel tried on several occasions to retake the place, with the pair both being critical of each other’s driving.
Hamilton made his final pit stop at the end of lap 41, with Vettel finally getting fifth place back from Alonso. The two had run millimetres apart, side-by-side down the national pit straight, with Vettel getting the move done under braking into Copse.
But it was Lewis Hamilton who was left to take a dominant victory, ahead of Bottas, with Ricciardo just holding off Jenson Button for third place. Vettel held onto fifth, ahead of Alonso with Kevin Magnussen finishing in seventh. Nico Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat and Jean Eric Vergne rounded out the top ten.
Sergio Perez just missed out on points after recovering from a collision with Vergne on the opening lap before the red flag. The incident was investigated by race stewards, but no action was taken.
Meanwhile, Britain’s other hope, Max Chilton, had a low key race on his way sixteenth, the last car still circulating by the end of the race. He did well to avoid the collision between Raikkonen and Massa on the opening lap, but was given a drive through penalty for pitting after the red flag was brought out.
Today’s result means Rosberg continues to lead the championship, but by a greatly reduced advantage. He now holds a slender four point lead over Hamilton.
The tenth round of this year championship takes places in a fortnight at Hockenheim.