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Lewis Hamilton thrills home crowd by winning British F1 GP for ninth time
F1 Sport

Lewis Hamilton thrills home crowd by winning British F1 GP for ninth time

The win was a long time coming but when Lewis Hamilton secured ­victory in the British Grand Prix, what it meant to him and indeed the home crowd at Silverstone that roared him across the line was unmistakable.

This was sport as emotion writ large, the perfect stage for the perfect drama, an intense, gripping piece of theatre that left its protagonist for the first time in his career in tears, with likely all but the hardest of hearts similarly touched.

Hamilton has gone over two years without a win, his last at Saudi Arabia in 2021, a full 945 days then, so long and so hard a drought, including being controversially denied his eighth title at the close of that year, he admitted afterwards it had brought him low and led to him doubting even himself.

An almost unthinkable admission from the seven-time world champion but a reminder of how human he is and how much heart is in his driving.

Yet at the same time also ­understandable given the context that since his debut in 2007 and 2021 he had won a race in every season but the spiral in form of Mercedes since 2022 has looked at times to be a vortex from which even Hamilton could not reach escape velocity.

He ultimately took the flag at Silverstone from the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in second and the McLaren of Lando Norris in third after a race that ebbed and flowed across wet and dry periods but through which the 39-year-old held his nerve with the same precision and control he has exhibited repeatedly in a remarkable career.

As he toured round on his in-lap to a circuit-wide standing ovation and cheering that saw off even the bellicose winds that had buffeted the track all day, he was, overwhelmed, in tears, as the scale of the achievement overtook him and when he climbed from the car there was an almost immediate emotional huge embrace from his mother and father.

“I am still crying,” said Hamilton. “The important thing is how you ­continue to get up and dig deeper than ever, even though you are at the bottom of the barrel and there are days since 2021 where I didn’t feel I was good enough or I would get back to where I am but I have had great people around me.”

Exultant, with the old airfield still echoing to a wall of cheers, he climbed the barriers, draped in a union flag to acknowledge the record home crowd of 164,000, with whom he has always enjoyed a special relationship.

Not least in the remarkable ­success he has returned at Silverstone.

His ninth win here is another record, no driver has scored more at a single venue.

It is a statistic illustrative of the extraordinary success Hamilton has enjoyed, alongside now 104 race wins and becoming the first driver to win a race after having completed over 300 races, numbers which ­matter but not in this moment as he drank in his victory.

He revelled in it, admitting it meant more here than anywhere, his face as he celebrated on the top step again a picture, an outpouring of unrestrained joy from an experience which had once been commonplace but which he has missed for so long.

For Mercedes the emotion too was tangible, a deserved win on pace to give cause for optimism for the future, 70 years to the weekend on from when Juan Manuel Fangio took the team’s first victory in their debut F1 race in 1954 at the French GP in Reims.

That it had been hard won doubtless made it even sweeter for the winner. In a race that was all but impossible to call, defined by periods of rain and the strategy calls they entailed, Hamilton, always a master in the wet and Mercedes, with no little experience in guiding their man to wins, executed with aplomb.

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He had worked hard for it indeed. First overtaking teammate George Russell for the lead when the ­opening bout of wet weather arrived, only to be passed by both the ­McLarens, enjoying immense grip, of Norris and Oscar Piastri, who finished fourth. Come back again he did ­however, as a second batch of rain proved decisive.

Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag at SilverstoneView image in fullscreen

After stopping for wet rubber, as the track dried the switch back to slicks was crucial.

Hamilton and Verstappen called it perfectly but McLaren kept Norris out a lap too long and when he did stop it was slow. Hamilton, rapid on his out lap swept into the lead as ­Norris emerged.

Hamilton had gained a full two-­second advantage over that one lap setting up a tense showdown to the flag, Verstappen’s hard tyre was ­perfect for the circumstances as the Red Bull found real pace in the dry and he caught and passed Norris on lap 48 and set off after the leader.

Yet he had the Dutchman’s ­measure, as the tension rose ­Hamilton took corner after corner with all the clinical control and ­experience of 17 years in the sport to secure one of the most ­memorable wins of an already outstanding career.

Silverstone exhaled collectively and Hamilton allowed the tears to flow.

Verstappen’s second place has further extended his title lead over Norris to 84 points.

Carlos Sainz was fifth for Ferrari, Nico HĂŒlkenberg sixth for Haas, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso in seventh and eighth for Aston ­Martin, Alex Albon ninth for Williams and Yuki Tsunoda 10th for RB.

Source: theguardian.com