Hamilton cuts championship lead with dominant British win
British driver Lewis Hamilton has dominated his home grand prix at Silverstone in an imperious lights-to-flag victory.
Hamilton sealed his victory at the beginning of the race, executing a clean getaway from Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen that ensured he would not be challenged for his lead.
“It wasn’t so easy, it’s never easy,” Hamilton said. “The team was faultless this weekend, and Valtteri [Bottas] did an exceptional job as well.”
On a day Vettel finished seventh after a poor start and tyre problems, Hamilton’s win slices his championship deficit from 20 points down to just one.
But chaos unfolded behind the serene Hamilton.
The battle for second place looked settled in Kimi Räikkönen’s favour for almost the entire grand prix after Max Verstappen squeezed past Sebastian Vettel at the first turn, holding up the German until lap 19.
It allowed Räikkönen to build a buffer to the resurgent Valtteri Bottas, who had climbed to fourth from a gearbox penalty-induced ninth on the grid — but a front-left tyre delamination on lap 50 put his podium in jeopardy.
Bottas was able to cruise past Räikkönen to seize second place, maximising an impressive recovery drive that relied on a contrastrategy.
Bottas started on the soft tyre when all others in the top 10 started on the supersoft, which allowed the Mercedes to stay on track until lap 33.
By that time Bottas was comfortably able to jump all bar the Ferraris, which he had to catch and pass in the final 19 laps.
He dispatched with Sebastian Vettel on lap 44 after a tense duel on the previous tour, and he was 4.5 seconds behind Räikkönen when his compatriot’s tyre failed.
“It was definitely not easy,” Bottas recounted. “There were many cars, it was not easy to get through.
“I just kept my head down and kept going. The team did an amazing strategy. It was a good weekend for us.”
Second place was lost to Räikkönen, but fortunate for the Finn was that on the same lap his tyre failed Max Verstappen chose to pit and Vettel picked up a puncture, meaning neither could pass his stricken Ferrari.
Räikkönen finished third, 22 seconds behind Bottas and 15 seconds ahead of Verstappen.
“I’m not happy, but it’s better than nothing,” Räikkönen said. “For whatever reason the front-left not really exploded but the canvas came off the tyre.
“Lucky I could get back fast and in one piece.”
Verstappen fought admirably in the opening stint, refusing to yield to Vettel’s faster Ferrari and losing third place only when the German successfully undercut him with a stop on lap19.
Bottas’s faster car similarly outgunned the Dutchman, who would have finished fifth had Vettel’s tyre not failed on the penultimate lap, gifting him an additional place.
By the time Vettel limped back to the pits for a tyre change he had tumbled to seventh, salvaging his championship lead by just one point with one grand prix remaining before the midseason break.
Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg finished between Verstappen and Vettel in fifth and sixth after two outstanding drives.
Ricciardo started the race from the back row of the grid, but the Australian meticulously picked off his rivals car by car by starting on the faster supersoft tyre.
Despite the delicate nature of the red-striped rubber Ricciardo didn’t make his stop until lap 33, when he had fought up to sixth.
He fell to P11 exiting the pits but passed both Force India cars on his out-lap and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas one lap later to place him behind Nico Hülkenberg.
Hülkenberg encountered car troubles on the final lap, giving Ricciardo the opportunity to pass him for seventh, which soon became sixth when Vettel dropped behind both.
Hülkenberg wrung the neck of his Renault to finish sixth after he impressively set the sixth-quickest time in qualifying on Saturday.
Renault brought an upgraded floor and aero package to this race, which the German maximised in a way his teammate, Jolyon Palmer, was unable to do over a single lap, which in turn kept him in the mix for the top six on race day.
Sergio Perez led Esteban Ocon home for Force India in eighth and ninth, losing places to the recovering Ricciardo and Bottas.
Felipe Massa scored the final point of the race for Williams after starting from P14, depriving McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne from scoring the first point of his season by just four seconds.