Lewis Hamilton drove the tyres off his Mercedes as he survived an extraordinary last-lap puncture to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on just three wheels.
Taking command after the first lap, Hamilton faced no challenge, so he eased his pace to cruise to victory. However, three laps from the checkered flag, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, suffered a left front tyre failure while running second. The Finn limped into the pits and returned to finish 11th, ceding second to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Then, with one lap remaining, Hamilton experienced an identical left front tyre failure, requiring all of the Brit’s consummate skill to limp over the finish line for his victory. Hamilton extended his championship lead to 30 points over Valtteri Bottas, who will now need a miracle to mount a challenge against the Brit.
Verstappen crossed the line just six seconds back, having started the last lap 31 seconds behind Hamilton. Seeing Bottas’ trouble, Red Bull pitted the Dutchman for new tyres to take the bonus point for fastest lap. Verstappen’s stop meant he couldn’t make up the deficit to overtake Hamilton. Assuming Verstappen’s tyres were healthy, and he had not stopped — he surely would have won.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished a fighting third ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Lewis Hamilton finally found his footing at spectator-less Silverstone to put his Mercedes on pole position for the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton delivered a Silverstone track record to secure the 91st pole of his career and guaranteed his status as the pre-race favourite to win on his windy Northamptonshire home circuit for a stunning seventh time.
Hamilton humbled teammate Valtteri Bottas by an impressive 0.313 seconds, with Mercedes’ all-black machines continuing to crush their bewildered opposition.
Hamilton headed into the top-10 shootout without finishing fastest in any of the three practice sessions. Further, while Bottas was quickest in Q1 and Q2, the six-time world champion even suffered a rare spin after losing control of his Mercedes on the exit of Luffield.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified third, but the Dutchman was a full second slower than Hamilton. Charles Leclerc was even further back in fourth for Ferrari. British driver Lando Norris finished fifth for McLaren.
Lance Stroll, in the other Racing Point, sneaked through to Q3 before qualifying sixth. His teammate for the Grand Prix was Nico Hulkenberg. The German was called up to sub for Sergio Perez this weekend after the Mexican became the first Formula One driver to return a positive Covid-19 test result.
Farther down the grid, Sebastian Vettel qualified 10th, a full two seconds slower than Hamilton.
Nico Hulkenberg, the replacement for the self-isolating Sergio Perez on Thursday – found his Racing Point car unable to fire-up race morning, so he’ll have to wait until next week, again at Silverstone, for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Bottas got a better launch than Hamilton, but the Brit positioned his car perfectly before the first corner to close the door on the Finn. That was Bottas’ last real opportunity – Bottas’ only alternative was consolidating second. Verstappen held off the forceful Leclerc to claim third place.
Behind, Alexander Albon thumped wheels with Magnussen, who had moved up from his P14 grid spot. The Haas driver flew into the gravel and then the outer wall, deploying the safety car. For his trouble, Albon was dealt a five-second penalty from the stewards. He would rally to finish eighth, but the paddock is already humming with speculation as to who Red Bull might pick to replace the struggling London-born Thai.
With Magnussen’s damaged machine removed, the race restarted on Lap 6, with Hamilton under no pressure.
Seven laps later, Kvyat lost control of his AlphaTauri through the high-speed Maggots, bringing out the second safety car.
When action resumed on Lap 19, Verstappen sat in third with the impressive Leclerc held fourth. Behind, Ricciardo, Norris and Sainz passed and re-passed each other before they attacked Romain Grosjean en masse. The Haas driver was up to fifth after choosing not to pit for tyres during the safety car. Grosjean’s aggressive defence against Ricciardo resulted a warning from the stewards post-race.
Behind, Lance Stroll couldn’t summon speed from the Racing Point, while Sebastian Vettel struggled mightily to come to grips with his Ferrari’s trimmed-out, drag-reducing rear wing.
The laps ran down with the Mercedes duo methodically pulling away from Verstappen. Only the Mercedes pair lapped in the 1m30s bracket mid-race, while the gap between Hamilton and Bottas remained over a second for much of the next 20 laps.
Verstappen gradually fell back, but finally dropped into the 1m29s, only to see Hamilton set a string of fastest laps, moving over two seconds clear in the final ten laps.
With three laps to go, Bottas’ left front punctured or failed, dropping him out of the points.
Verstappen inherited second place. Red Bull brought him in for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap just as cameras picked up Lewis Hamilton’s tyre failure. Verstappen’s stop left him too much deficit to overtake Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc finished a lonely third with Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault taking fourth after McLaren’s Carlos Sainz suffered a similar left front tyre failure on the penultimate lap.
Lando Norris had the best of Ricciardo for much of the race but lost out at the finish, dropping to fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Renault.
Pierre Gasly battled by Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll to take what became seventh for AlphaTauri, with Albon given a five-second penalty for the incident with Magnussen, taking eighth in front of Stroll and Vettel.
The teams will be at Silverstone coming weekend for the Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.