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Hamilton wins fifth British Grand Prix, slashes Vettel’s championship lead

Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory in his home British Grand Prix on Sunday, amid a thrilling final few laps that saw both Ferraris pick up punctures and Sebastian Vettel drop to seventh – his championship lead over his British rival reduced from 20 points to just 1 as a result.

“This is a feeling that I cannot really describe,” said Hamilton on the podium at the finish. “It feels amazing to be up here. I am so proud to see all these great flags everywhere.

“The support this weekend has been immense and I am really proud I could do this for you all [the fans]. Thank-you so much for all the support and for pushing us. The team was faultless this weekend. It is the perfect weekend for us.”

Hamilton made a strong start from pole position and led every single lap of the race in his Mercedes, en-route to his fourth victory in as many years on home turf and his fifth in total, equalling the record held by Alain Prost and Jim Clark, the latter the only other man to have won four British GPs in a row.

It was the 57th triumph of Hamilton’s F1 career and the result puts him right back in the Championship fight at the halfway point of the year.

“It is incredible [to get this result] and just a big thank-you again to everyone. You guys, just so you know. I’m coming to crowd surf. I am going to change, but be ready for me!” Hamilton continued.

“And everyone that is watching thank-you very much for the support too – and Billy [Monger] and those guys down here, I want to say thank-you for coming. You guys have inspired me this weekend.

“This race [Billy] is for you.”

Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas recovered from his five-place grid penalty and ran an alternative strategy to the other front runners to take the runners-up spot and give Mercedes a 1-2, passing Vettel into Stowe on lap 44 and then benefitting from Raikkonen’s puncture.

“I am really happy with today,” Bottas said. “It was definitely not an easy race, to start from P9 and there were many cars that were not easy to get through, but the team did an absolutely perfect strategy and I kept my head down and just kept going.

“In the end, with the puncture for Kimi, we got a bit lucky. But the perfect weekend for us and well done to Lewis.”

Raikkonen had been comfortable in second, but slipped back when his left front tyre let go with only two laps remaining.

“I think we got more-or-less everything out of the car in the race and they [Mercedes] were just a bit faster today,” said Raikkonen, after having to settle for third.

“I was struggling at some points to go faster but then unfortunately, the unlucky situation keeps following us, and for whatever reason the front left, it didn’t really explode, but the canvas came off the tyre. Luckily I could get back.

“Not happy but third is better than nothing.”

Behind, Vettel had the same misfortune, initially moving up to P3 after Raikkonen’s problems, before he too suffered the same fate and lost four positions.

It was a torrid afternoon for the German that began with his brakes on fire as they lined-up for the start.

“It is quite sad. I don’t have a lot to say. I was pretty sure the tyres would be fine. The tyre blow didn’t come by gambling or risking it at all. At the time it felt okay. Kimi I think had a similar issue and his tyres were five or six laps fresher. I think it [the tyre problem] caught us both by surprise,” Vettel said.

“A disaster? It could have been a little bit better for sure, but disaster I don’t think so. We had a good car, especially in the corners and the balance was alright.

“In the race, obviously the brakes caught fire at the start, which compromised the start and today it was a difficult race. Overall, small things here and there led to a busy afternoon…”

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was next up in fourth, running as high as third early on after a good start and then dicing with Vettel, prompting the Dutchman to say: “Does he want to play bummer cars or something?” Verstappen managed to stay in front, but lost out in the pit stop phase, with Ferrari and Vettel successfully making the most of the undercut.

Daniel Ricciardo was next up in fifth in the sister Red Bull, a brilliant drive seeing the Australian charge back from last-but-one on the grid to score 10 championship points.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top-six – matching the team’s best result of the season in Spain.

Further back, and behind Vettel, Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth, while Williams driver Felipe Massa took the final point in tenth.

McLaren Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne finished just outside the points in P11, with Haas F1 duo Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in positions 12 through to 14.

Daniil Kvyat took 15th in his Toro Rosso – but only after clashing with team-mate Carlos Sainz on the opening lap an incident that brought out the safety car. Sainz retired on the spot and Kvyat was later given a drive-through penalty after the stewards ruled he had re-joined the track unsafely.

Williams rookie Lance Stroll and the other Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein were the only other finishers in 16th and 17th.

In terms of retirements, in addition to Sainz, Fernando Alonso also failed to get to the end with technical issues – “no power” – forcing him to park his McLaren Honda on lap 33.

Jolyon Palmer was also not classified, the Briton unable to even start in his Renault after a hydraulic issue forced him to pull off at Stowe on the warm-up lap, triggering an aborted start and an extra formation lap.

Race Result available – HERE.

Picture credit: Pirelli

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