Can anyone stop Lewis Hamilton this season? Quite unlikely as the Briton added another chapter to his Formula One greatness in his Mercedes at his home Grand Prix in Silverstone on Sunday. Driving with a punctured tyre, he clocked 230kph on the final straight for his seventh victory on the famous track, his third in a row, and 87th overall.
There was arguably some luck involved because Red Bull’s Max Verstappen should have won the British Grand Prix, which only became exciting in the closing stages, had he not gone for a late pit stop in the quest to get the fastest race lap.
But eventually all the ifs and buts didn’t matter — after all, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also had front left punctures in a bizarre finale — and the British ace was once again top of the podium.
“Who is supposed to stop Hamilton when not even a flat tyre can?” This is the question his rivals must be asking after he put himself in a solid position for yet another world title.
Hamilton safely manoeuvring the stricken Mercedes only confirmed a mid-week statement from his motor sport chief Toto Wolff who said that “on a good day Lewis is unbeatable.”
It was such a day from the outset behind the closed doors at the track, with Hamilton making the most of his 91st pole position despite a poor start, untroubled by two safety car stages and comfortably keeping Bottas at bay although the Finn tried his best.
What looked like a procession for the podium places — Verstappen 10 seconds behind the top two but more than 20 ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc — eventually turned into drama which all went Hamilton’s way.
Bottas had to pit and faded to 11th outside the points, and Verstappen’s stop gave Hamilton the necessary advantage to limp home in first and increase his championship lead from five to 30 points.
Hamilton said: “I have never experienced anything like that before. That last lap was one of the most challenging laps I have ever had.”
There have been suggestions that debris on the track, combined with heavy tyre wear on the fast circuit with most teams on just one pit stop, contributed to the flats, but tyre suppliers Pirelli said it was too early to pinpoint an exact reason.
They won’t have much time but they could at least have a trackside lab for analysis ahead of the next race on the same course on Sunday, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, the venue having hosted the first-ever F1 world championship race in 1950.
It could be another momentous occasion for the imperious Briton to stamp his authority on the sport and bring cheer to his legion of fans in what has been a gloomy year for the world of sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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