Hamilton limps to record British GP win after late puncture
August 02 2020 06:02 PM
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with the trophy
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with the trophy

DPA/Silverstone, England

World champion Lewis Hamilton claimed a seventh triumph at his British home grand prix on Sunday but it was clearly his most extraordinary as he limped across the Silverstone finish line with a puncture.

The front left tyre of Hamilton's Mercedes gave up halfway through the 52nd and final lap but he hung on to win - because Red Bull's Max Verstappen went for a late pit stop in order to get a championship point for fastest race lap.

Hamilton's puncture was the culmination of some late drama as team-mate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren's Carlos Sainz suffered the same fate in the closing stages of a race which had earlier seen little action despite two safety car stages.

‘Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing,’ Hamilton said. ‘Then down the straight it just deflated.

‘That was definitely heart in the mouth kind of feeling! Just driving to keep the speed off, I was just praying to get around and not be too slow. I nearly didn't get around the last few corners.’  Hamilton won from Verstappen and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari as he extended his Formula One championship lead over Bottas to 30 points after four season races with his third top spot in a row.

He is the first driver to win a home race seven times, beating Alain Prost who won six times in his native France.

Hamilton's 87 career victories are just four shy of Michael Schumacher's record 91, and Hamilton can also emulate the German with a record seventh world title this season.

Hamilton had a slow start from pole but was still able to hold off Bottas, and Verstappen hung on to third despite being briefly passed by Leclerc.

But the safety car came out after the end of lap one when Kevin Magnussen's Haas went off the track and one wheel came off after contact with Red Bull's Alex Albon, who received a five-second penalty and eventually finished eighth.

Hamilton was untroubled on the restart as he and Bottas soon used Mercedes' superiority to pull away, and Verstappen also opened a gap on Leclerc.

But a heavy crash into the barriers from Alpha Tauri's Daniil Kvyat, who escaped unharmed, brought out the safety car again on lap 13, with almost everyone using the opportunity to pit for fresh rubbers.

The race restarted again on lap 19 and like before Verstappen was unable to challenge the Mercedes duo while at the same time quickly moving away from Leclerc.

Bottas was never able to put some serious pressure on Hamilton and his chances ended with the puncture in the third-last lap which sent him into the pits and out of the points, just like Sainz who seemed on course towards sixth place.

Red Bull and Verstappen had mixed feelings after missing victory because of the late pit stop.

‘He's a lucky boy,’ Verstappen's engineer said of Hamilton, while the Dutchman said: ‘It's lucky and unlucky.

‘The tyres didn't look great with 10 laps to go and I was already on the radio. Then Valtteri got a puncture so I came on the radio and said I'm going to back it out. Then of course they boxed me to go for the fastest lap. Then unfortunately Lewis got a puncture himself. But I'm very happy with second, it's a very good result for us.’  Bottas' fate swept Leclerc, who had been far behind, to a second unlikely podium, and it was only because of the mishaps for Bottas and Sainz that Sebastian Vettel made the points in 10th in the other Ferrari.

Nico Huelkenberg's short-notice return to F1 - standing in for Sergio Perez who has contracted the coronavirus - ended in disappointment because his Racing Point never made it to the starting grid owing to a power unit problem.

Last updated: August 02 2020 06:25 PM

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