Hamilton storms to historic sixth British GP win in Silverstone thriller

Lewis Hamilton took a record-breaking sixth victory at the British Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to the top spot on the podium in what was a dominant drive in a thrilling race at Silverstone.

In qualifying for the 10th race of the 2019 season, it was Bottas who came out on top, with the Finnish pilot powering to a 1m 25.093s lap around the Northamptonshire-based circuit as Hamilton wound up 0.006s adrift to secure second on the grid.

While both Mercedes drivers secured a strong getaway from the front row, it was Bottas who got the jump on Hamilton at the start of the race, leading the Briton while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc maintained third place from Max Verstappen.

With clean air at the front of the field, Bottas held an early advantage, setting the fastest lap of the race on his second tour of the circuit before Hamilton quickly fought back, bettering the Finn’s previous personal best lap time to reign in the gap.

 With DRS getting enabled on lap three, Hamilton activated the device one lap later to close in on Bottas, launching an attack into Brooklands to snatch the lead from his team-mate to the sound of a 141,000 person-strong cheer from the onlooking crowd. Hanging on, however, Bottas fought back to once more regain the lead, overtaking Hamilton in a wheel-to-wheel scrap in the flat right-hander of Copse.

Consistently setting fastest lap after fastest lap, Bottas re-established his former lead over Hamilton, pitting at the end of lap 16 for the first time in the 52-lap race, fitting a second set of Medium compound tyres before rejoining in second while Hamilton inherited the lead.

Acquainted with clean air, Hamilton continued to improve his lap time before yellow flags quickly waved in the third and final sector when Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi pitched his car into a spin, getting stuck in the gravel trap of Turn 16. This resulted in the deployment of the safety car on lap 20, with this playing into the advantage of the leading Briton.

Losing less time in the pit lane due to the on-track presence of the safety car, Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 20, exchanging his race-starting Medium compound tyres for a set of more durable Hards, which meant that the Briton could utilise the one-stop strategy.

Given the marginal time loss from Hamilton’s stop, the five-time champion rejoined the race in the lead ahead of Bottas. The race was resumed on lap 23 when the safety car peeled into the pit lane and from here, Hamilton found an extra gear, outpacing Bottas in the second half of the Grand Prix to hold a firm advantage.

Having pitted onto a second set of Medium tyres on lap 16, Bottas was forced to make a second pit stop at the end of lap 45, with the Finn needing to use two different tyre compounds in the race. This handed Hamilton a lead of over 20 seconds and with the Briton refusing to pit given the increased risk of a tyre change, took the chequered flag at the end of lap 52 to take a record-breaking sixth win at Silverstone while Bottas completed a seventh 1-2 for Mercedes.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here in front of my home crowd,” said Hamilton. “I’ve got my whole family here, my team… There are so many British flags out there and I could see them lap after lap. Every year I’ve been coming here I’ve seen it, I’ve noticed it and I’ve appreciated it. You would think you’d get used to something like that but it feels like the first time and I’m just forever grateful.

“I couldn’t have done it without these guys and I couldn’t have done it without my team, the guys back at the factory and their wives and kids who are supportive of them through the whole year in their time away and how dedicated they are to their jobs. When I tell people ‘thank you to the team’ there are nearly 2,000 people that make this possible and I’m just a chink in that chain. I value them massively and I’m super proud to be a part of this.”

After starting from third, Leclerc stood on the final step of the podium for Ferrari, benefitting from a collision between team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen.

Scrapping for position, Verstappen overtook Vettel on lap 37 into Stowe, however, was rear-ended by the German racer in the braking zone of Turn 16. This saw Verstappen spin and get pitched into the air after running over the entry kerb in the left-hand corner while Vettel ran into the gravel. Despite sustaining heavy damage, Verstappen continued to run while Vettel pitted for repairs, finishing in a low-key 15th place while an additional 10-second time penalty further compounded the four-time champion’s British Grand Prix.  

Examining the incident, Vettel accepted full responsibility: “It was my mistake,” he told Sky Sports F1. “He [Verstappen] passed me into Stowe and then he ran a bit wide which gave me the chance to come back. Then it looked for a second that he was going to the right and that there would be a gap on the left that I was hoping to go in for. It didn’t open and by that time it was already too late and I was too close so I crashed.”

Pierre Gasly registered his best result of the season by finishing in fourth while Verstappen finished in fifth place to secure 10 points, surprised that he saw the chequered flag, given the damage on his Red Bull RB15: “I honestly don’t know how I brought that car to the finish,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I think my power steering failed, my seat was out so all the time under braking I was moving forward and in high-speed corners, I was moving left and right. The car was really neutral so when I jumped out of the car the whole floor and the rear was, of course, destroyed so I’m happy to finish fifth.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr finished as the best of the rest, rising from 13th on the grid to finish in sixth place while Daniel Ricciardo finished in seventh for Renault. Kimi Raikkonen delivered Alfa Romeo with four points by finishing in eighth place while Daniil Kvyat was ninth for Toro Rosso. Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 in the second Renault after overtaking Alexander Albon on the final lap of the race.

Formula 1’s 2019 season will continue on July 28 as the racing circus heads to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix and the home race of Mercedes.

Guennadi Moukine

Motorsport Technology Editor.