Hamilton brings it home at Silverstone
Lewis Hamilton streaked to British Grand Prix victory on Sunday, delivering a masterful drive in wet conditions to delight a vociferous home crowd and reignite his world title challenge.
Consistent rain saw nearly all the drivers spin at some stage of the race and though BMW’s Nick Heidfeld produced a good drive to finish second and Rubens Barrichello was third, no one could come close to Hamilton who won his home race by a staggering 68.5 seconds.
The British McLaren driver produced an excellent start and a superbly aggressive opening stint to take the lead early on, before going on to close the race out maturely.
The victory brings 23-year-old Hamilton his first points since winning at Monaco back in May and moves him up into a three-way tie at the top of the world championship.
Hamilton now shares top spot with the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen who finished fourth at Silverstone and Felipe Massa who took no points from a nightmare race.
Heikki Kovalainen was fifth in the other McLaren, Fernando Alonso took sixth and Jarno Trulli and Kazuki Nakajima were the others to pick up points.
After solid rain throughout the morning, conditions brightened up somewhat for the race but a wet track and gusting winds still made for troublesome start conditions.
Hamilton made the best start of all, shooting around the outside to squeeze into second from fourth on the grid and briefly touching wheels with pole-sitter Kovalainen.
Mark Webber, his Red Bull starting from second, suffered an early spin and ended up right at the back of the field.
Kovalainen led his teammate and Raikkonen after the first lap but Hamilton immediately began to apply serious pressure on the leader, forcing him to defend desperately over the next four laps.
Such a sustained attack proved impossible to repel and Hamilton slipped past Kovalainen to take the lead on lap five.
As the home crowd cheered their hero another Brit, David Coulthard, collided with Sebastien Vettel’s Toro Rosso and both drivers ended up in the gravel and out of the race.
It was an unfortunate way for Coulthard to finish his final British Grand Prix – the Red Bull veteran having announced his retirement earlier this week.
Kovalainen slid into a spin on his tenth lap and allowed Raikkonen through into second where he would steadily cut the gap to Hamilton until the first round of pit stops.
On lap 21 of the 60 lap race Hamilton and Raikkonen entered the pits together with the Briton emerging, by a whisker, with his lead intact.
Raikkonen’s pit crew controversially decided not to change tyres, a decision that saw the world champion lose significant time to the leader and also to those behind.
As Raikkonen’s tyres continued to deteriorate he fell further and further off the pace and after finally cutting his losses and taking new tyres he had fallen to 11th place.
The rain began to fall solidly just after the halfway point of the race and Hamilton, Raikkonen and Renault’s Nelson Piquet each aquaplaned off the track – the first two temporarily and Piquet for good.
As havoc reigned, BMW’s Robert Kubica span off and out of the race and was soon joined by Jenson Button.
Honda’s Barrichello was now fitted with the extreme wet tyres and lapping way faster than anyone else, he worked his way up into third place behind Hamilton and Heidfeld who had steadily manoeuvred into second.
The leader stopped for a second time on lap 37 but, with the rain beginning to clear, prudently not opted for extreme wet tyres.
With 10 laps to go Hamilton had opened up a lead of over a minute and he went on to lap everyone behind third placed Barrichello in a supreme display of dominance.
Raikkonen staged a late charge to take fourth while Heidfeld and Barrichello cruised to welcome podium finishes.