Lewis Hamilton secured a dominant lights-to-flag victory at the British Grand Prix, securing a Mercedes 1-2 as Valtteri Bottas took advantage of punctures to both Ferraris late in the race in his recovery from ninth on the grid.
Hamilton’s victory puts him tied for most British GP victories along with Jim Clark and Alain Prost, and tying Clark for most consecutive British GP wins on four apiece.
The only time the Brit was troubled all race was away from the line, with Kimi Raikkonen making a good getaway before running off-line at Farm Curve and leaving Hamilton to escape into the distance. Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari conversely had a poor start, dropping behind Max Verstappen into Abbey, and subsequently unable to deal with the Dutchman’s committed move around the outside of The Loop to hold the final podium place early on.
Before the race could get into full swing, a safety car was deployed at the end of the opening lap following a collision between the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat. The latter had used slipstream out of Copse to pull alongside Sainz through Maggots, but ran wide and onto the kerbs on exit. Still at full speed, this sent him clattering into Sainz on the outside of Becketts, causing the Spaniard to retire on the spot and sent Kvyat to the rear of the field, carrying floor and suspension damage for the remainder of the race.
Bottas was in recovery mode, having started down in ninth due to a gearbox penalty. He made quick work of Stoffel Vandoorne and Sergio Perez at the start, followed by straightforward passes on Esteban Ocon and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg once the race had resumed. Stops from both Verstappen and Vettel ahead allowed him clean air to turn in a set of quick laps, with Verstappen losing positions to both the Ferrari and the Mercedes due to a slow pitstop.
Vettel had lost time hand over fist behind Verstappen, at one point pushing him wide at Stowe only to be pushed wide himself at the next corner in futile attempts to regain third place. He successfully used the undercut on the Red Bull, but after Bottas’ switch to supersofts following his long first stint isbecame easy prey for the Finn. The German was starting to complain of blistering on his front tyres, and Bottas flew past on the Hangar Straight before even reaching the latter’s favourite passing place at Stowe.
With only three laps remaining, the battle for the podium positions was transformed by tyre dramas. Raikkonen’s front left began to delaminate, costing him a reasonably comfortable second and sending him to the pits after being passed by both Bottas and Vettel. Verstappen followed him in for a tyre change of his own, having complained on the radio of tyre issues only a few laps prior.
The drama only escalated from there as half a lap later, Vettel’s tyre lost pressure entirely, running into the grass at Luffield and limping back to pitlane on the penultimate lap. Having inherited a podium only momentarily, he dropped all the way down to seventh, leaving him as the last car to finish on the lead lap.
Bottas’ drive to second was not the only impressive recovery effort, with Daniel Ricciardo picking his way through the field from 19th place. His progress was initially disrupted when squeezed wide at the exit of Luffied by Haas’ Romain Grosjean immediately after the restart, but quickly recovered and stole fifth position away from Hulkenberg on the final lap.
Ocon had taken advantage of a lightning start to move up to fifth at the start, and while he was not able to keep Hulkenberg or Ricciardo at bay, was able to use track position gained on his team-mate Perez at the start to hold seventh until the end of the race.
Felipe Massa replicated his Austria form with another excellent opening lap, breaking into the Top 10 and holding station for the duration of the race. He held off Vandoorne for the final point, leapfrogging the Belgian on strategy thanks to a long opening stint on the soft compound tyre.
The other McLaren of Fernando Alonso did not have such a trouble-free race, a fuel pressure problem striking the double world champion’s car down on Lap 34. Reliability was worse still from Jolyon Palmer, who failed to start the race due to a hydraulics failure on the warm-up lap.
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