Hamilton ends his winless streak with his ninth victory at Silverstone

Hamilton ends winless streak with record ninth Silverstone victory

Lewis Hamilton took a record-breaking ninth British Grand Prix in a chaotic wet-dry race at Silverstone. 

The seven-time champion fended off a fast-finishing Max Verstappen in the final laps to claim victory by 1.5s, his first in the 945 days since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Thank you so much, guys,” an emotional Hamilton said over team radio as he was handed a British flag by a trackside marshal. “It means a lot to me this one.”

“This one means a lot to us all,” his engineer, Peter Bonnington, said.

“I love you, Bono,” Hamilton replied.

Hamilton’s route to an unprecedented ninth victory at one grand prix was tortuous in challenging mixed conditions, beginning with a launch that had him slot behind pole-getting teammate George Russell off the line.

The Mercedes drivers led the first phase of the race, with Max Verstappen fighting for the podium behind, slicing down Lando Norris’s inside at Village and relieving him of third place around the outside of Loop.

The top five, with Oscar Piastri bringing up the rear, remained tightly grouped in the opening part of the race defined by constant radio chatter about impending rain, which was forecast to lash the circuit in two bands, the second harder than the first.

The first lot of drizzle arrived on lap 15, and the suddenly massively variable grip levels shuffled the order at the front. The McLaren drivers, typically fastest at the end of a stint, came alive on the slippery surface. Norris took back third from Verstappen with DRS assistance into to Stowe on lap 15, and Piastri followed him through into fourth on the following tour.

Hamilton too was feeling a wet-weather boost and was suddenly all over the back of Russell. Clearly much faster, he also slipped past into Stowe to take the lead, only for both to sail off the road at the first turn on lap 19.

The McLarens were poised to pounce. Norris immediately demoted Russell to third as the two Mercedes rejoined, and with far superior tire grip in the conditions he then swept past Hamilton at Abbey to take the lead. Piastri followed his teammate past both to form a McLaren one-two by the end of lap 20.

The rain subsided and settled the battle, but only temporarily. It returned more intensely on lap 24, forcing drivers to choose when to switch to wet-weather tires.

Verstappen, who had struggled in the early drizzle, was on the front foot switching to intermediates on lap 26. Having languished in fifth, he was brought right back into the fight in third after Norris and Hamilton pitted on the following tour, rejoining only just ahead.

It was bad news for Piastri, however, who was left to inherit the lead rather than lose time in a double stack. It was painfully costly for the Australian, who lost almost a pit stop worth of time to his teammate during that single lap on slicks in the wet, putting him out of victory contention.

Russell’s afternoon too ended up spoiled when a water system failure forced him to retire from the grand prix from fourth after 33 laps.

The race settled back into a rhythm, this time with radio chatter consumed by the timing of a switch back to slicks as the rain subsided and sun broke through the clouds. Hamilton was the first of the front-runners to pull the trigger on lap 37, with Verstappen following him in. The Briton chose a set of used softs, while the Dutchman opted for hards.

Norris stayed out in the lead but almost immediately realized it had been a mistake. By the time he came in at the end of the following tour his intermediate tires were groaning under the strain of lapping in the dry.

Avoiding some Ferrari mechanics waiting to receive Carlos Sainz and sliding long into his pit box, his stop was 4.5s. It was a costly and race-defining delay, with Hamilton steaming past him as he exited the pits with a 2.5s lead.

Norris, however, had made one other critical error. Having had the choice between new mediums and used softs, he’d picked the latter, leaving him vulnerable to Verstappen behind.

The Dutchman was slow to warm up his hard tires but soon became inevitable. On lap 47 he cut easily past Norris for second with DRS and began bearing down on Hamilton’s lead. But he ran out of laps to catch his old foe. Hamilton crossed the line with 1.465s in hand to win his 104th grand prix and his first since his failed 2021 title bid.

“I can’t stop crying,” he said. “Since 2021 every day getting up, trying to fight to train, to put my mind to the task and work as hard as I can with this amazing team — and this is my last race here at the British Grand Prix with this team.

“I wanted to win this so much for them because I love them, I appreciate them so much.

“All the hard work they’ve been putting in all of these years, I’m forget grateful to everyone at this team, to everyone at Mercedes.”

Verstappen was philosophical in defeat, having looked out of contention in the first stint of the race before the rain gave him an opening to re-enter the lead battle.

“We just didn’t have the pace today,” he said. “It didn’t look great.

“We made the right calls going from the slicks to the inters and also from the inters back to the slicks. I think it was every time at the right lap.”

Norris was disappointed to have another victory shot slip through his fingers, ruing poor strategy calls that dropped him to third.

“As a team I don’t think we did quite the job we should’ve done,” he said. “I’m not making the right decisions — at the same time I blame myself today for not making some of the right decisions.”

Piastri finished fourth ahead of Sainz, the sole Ferrari to finish in the points after Charles Leclerc had his race ruined by a too-early switch to intermediates.

Nico Hulkenberg finished an impressive sixth for Haas for the second race in a row, beating Aston Martin teammates Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso.

Alex Albon recorded his third points finish of the year in ninth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in 10th.

Logan Sargeant was 11th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo, Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu.

Pierre Gasly retired at the end of the formation lap with a gearbox issue.

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