World Champion British driver Lewis Hamilton delivered a stunning pole-to-flag winning performance in the 2016 Formula 1 British Grand Prix on Sunday. In a huge same-day success story for sports in Great Britain, what Hamilton began on Sunday afternoon was superbly complimented a few hours later by Andy Murray’s championship victory at the tennis mecca of Wimbledon. 2016 Championship leader Nico Rosberg finished second behind Hamilton at Silverstone but in a post-race penalty slapped on Team Mercedes, the German was demoted to third behind Red Bulls’ Dutch driver Max Verstappen. In another impressive performance for the Sahara Force India team, Sergio Perez was placed sixth and Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh.
Hamilton cornered the glory for the third successive year at Silverstone, which is one of the oldest and the most iconic racing circuits on the F1 calendar. Silverstone was initially a World-War-II airfield but became a permanent home for the British GP since 1987. Sunday’s incessant rain had left the circuit soaked with water and early laps had to be run with the safety car in front. Most drivers required three different varieties of tyres as the weather turned dry in closing stages. Drivers started on wet tyres and changed to intermediates before switching to slick rubber for the last laps. When it all ended, sun was shining down on Hamilton in a keenly anticipated triumph at his home circuit. Hamilton had elicited a similar performance in qualifying on Saturday, winning the pole from teammate Rosberg. Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen was third, his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo fourth, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fifth, other Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel sixth, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas seventh, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr eighth, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg ninth and McLaren-Hondo driver Fernando Alonso finished tenth.
Sunday’s main event began in pouring rain and the safety car preceded the racing bunch at the 52-lap Silverstone circuit. There was nothing electric about the start because puddles of water prevented the drivers from adventurism. Hamilton continued to be in front as per his grid position, followed by Rosberg, Verstappen and Ricciardo. Everyone waited for the tyre change as the wets wouldn’t give them the speed. With rain refusing to go, safety car continued until the 5th lap. On the 6th lap, while the top four remained on track, most other drivers rushed to the pit-stops for the first change of tyres. When Austrian driver Pascal Wehrlein hit the gravel on lap-7 and went out of contention, Hamilton and Rosberg also went to the pits on lap-8 to take advantage of the arrival of the virtual safety car. By lap-12, Hamilton was still leading but Rosberg looked like closing the gap. They had reduced the speed somewhat to prolong the tyre life. The track began to dry by lap-14 and Vettel was the first to change to slick rubber on lap-16. His Ferrari teammate followed suit 2 laps later. By lap-21, Rosberg had lost his second place to Verstappen while Hamilton stayed in front.
At the halfway mark, Hamilton still led from Verstappen with Rosberg at the third place. On lap-33, Force India’s Sergio Perez went into a spin but he could control himself to still lead Raikkonen. With 12 laps remaining, Hamilton kept to his top spot but Rosberg had stolen the second place from Verstappen. On lap-44, Hamilton did his fastest lap and led 6 seconds from Rosberg. By lap 50, Hamilton looked a certain winner with a whopping 11 seconds lead on Rosberg and the contest was reduced to a tussle for the second spot between Rosberg and Verstappen.
Hamilton crossed the line first and won his fourth British GP with the last three in successive years. Rosberg was second but he lost his place to Verstappen after a post-race penalty on Team Mercedes for providing Rosberg with illegal instructions. Daniel Ricciardo was fourth in the second Red Bull and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth. In a superb performance for Sahara Force India, Sergio Perez was sixth despite his spin earlier on and his teammate Nico Hulkenberg right behind at seventh. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth, Ferrari’s Vettel ninth and the second Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat brought up the rear to finish tenth. Hamilton’s hat-trick of British GP was his 47th F1 win and it makes him the first three-in-a-row British Grand Prix winner since the legendary Jim Clark in the Sixties. In the championship leaderboard, however, Rosberg still leads by one point at 168 to Hamilton’s 167. The next race is the mid-season Hungarian GP in a fortnight’s time.
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