BRITAIN’S Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory in front of a jubilant home crowd at Silverstone yesterday, a result that he believes can mark a turning point in the battle for the Formula One world title.
The British Grand Prix began with a dramatic first-lap crash involving Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, though the Finn escaped serious injury and the race restarted an hour later.
Hamilton, who had started sixth, swiftly moved up to second behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. And the German’s retirement on lap 30 allowed him to grab top spot on the podium and narrow Rosberg’s lead at the top of the world rankings to just four points.
“I plan to make this the start of a new chapter,” the 29-year-old said. “We’ll draw a line under the last nine races and now it’s attack mode. It’s about utilising that pace [that I have] and getting myself back to my normal qualifying mode.”
The victory was Hamilton’s second at Silverstone, having also won the British Grand Prix on the same date – 6 July – in 2008, his championship winning campaign.
Hamilton has been plagued by dismal recent qualifying sessions, culminating in a calamitous decision on Saturday to pull out of the final lap and allow five drivers to record better times. Yet he believes his latest error could be a blessing in disguise.
He added: “You could say it was a real kick in the balls. I really had to pull up my socks after that. To win the world championship, I can’t have situations like that.”
Despite a sometimes-strained relationship with his father and former manager Anthony Hamilton, the Stevenage-born driver also paid tribute to his family for helping him overcome the previous day’s troubles. He said: “I spent a lot of time with my dad last night, and my brother. Today I needed them here, I just really wanted that support.”
By the re-start Hamilton had already moved up to fourth, and within a couple of extra laps he was second. Opting for a different tyre strategy to Rosberg, and closing the gap with exceptionally quick laps, an epic battle seemed on the cards. Yet the Briton’s task was made easier when a gear-box problem forced the German to retire. Hamilton crossed the line more than 30 seconds ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo third.
TIMES AND STANDINGS
British Grand Prix result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:38:78
2. Valtteri Bottas, Williams +30.1
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull +46.4
4. Jenson Button, McLaren +47.3
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull +53.8
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 165
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 161
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 98
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari 87