If Lewis Hamilton won Sunday’s Santander British GP at Silverstone, he should consider himself lucky that his Mercedes team-mate and the only real challenger, Nico Rosberg had to disappointingly drop out of contention after 29 laps due to gearbox problems. With his 27th F1 triumph, Hamilton drew level with the legendry British driver Sir Jackie Stewart, who was one among the celebrity crowd at Silverstone. On Saturday, Hamilton performed poorly in qualifying rounds and earned discredit by choosing to skip the last lap because he thought the track was too wet. This allowed Rosberg to take the Pole with Hamilton finishing sixth on the grid. Hamilton’s unfathomable decision prompted Sir Jackie Stewart to remark that the man’s head was a bit skewed. Regardless, Hamilton’s fifth victory of the season brought cheers to 80,000 fans at Silverstone. For Team Mercedes, it was the eighth victory in nine races and they lead the Constructors’ Championship by a whopping 158 points with 10 races remaining in 2014.
In qualifying rounds earlier, conditions were overcast and the track was wet. But Hamilton went through the initial laps. Even as conditions improved, Hamilton’s decision to abandon his last lap seemed strange. This allowed Nico Rosberg to take the pole position with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel close on his heels. Jenson Button, another British driver of Team McLaren was third. Kevin Magnussen was fifth behind Force India’s Nico Hulkeneberg. Hamilton was relegated to the sixth spot on the grid, followed by Perez at 7, Ricciardo at 8, Kvyat ay 9 and Vergne at 10.
On the sunny July 6 Sunday, Nico Rosberg broke away from the pack as the race began. The Silverstone spectators desperately wanted Hamilton to win the event but the Briton had already created an obstacle for himself earlier. Starting five places behind Rosberg was like beginning with a handicap. Also, with the burden of Saturday’s blunder weighing on his mind, Hamilton first needed to push the ghosts out of his psyche. With Rosberg in the lead, Button passed Vettel for the second place. Still in the first lap, just as Hamilton and Vettel had a bump and the Briton moved to the fourth spot, a big crash took place involving Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. The race had to be stopped. For the second lap, the cars returned to the start-finish line; in the same order that they were; at the time, when the red flag was signaled. The mishap left a lot of debris on the track, which had to be cleared before the race could resume. Raikkonen had strayed wide off the track and lost control as he spun wildly to join back. Caution from nearby drivers prevented the damage from escalating. Massa was declared out of the race as his car suffered extensive damage.
The race finally resumed at 2.05PM and expectedly, Rosberg pulled away from McLaren drivers Button and Magnussen. At fourth spot, Hamilton looked for an opening, which came when Magnussen committed a braking error. Meanwhile, there was some action at back-end as Bottas impressively moved to seventh place from almost at last. In lap 4, Hamilton passed button to take the second spot behind Rosberg. In lap 7, Alonso splendidly progressed from 16th place to 8th but at lap 13, he was handed a 5-second stop-go penalty for starting over the line in his grid spot. The 17th lap time of 1:38:554m was Hamilton’s fastest lap. Behind him, Bottas came whizzing past Button in third place. Rosberg first reported his gearbox malfunction in lap 21 and opted for hard tyres. This allowed him to log the fastest time of 1:37.176m in lap 27. But Rosberg’s problem worsened in 29th lap and he left the race. Rosberg’s departure made it easy for Hamilton, who was the run-away leader by lap 37. Behind him, Alonso and Vettel fought for the fifth place. With 10 laps remaining, Hamilton led Bottas by 10 seconds. 80000 British spectators at Silverstone also watched Jenson Button, who was fourth behind Ricciardo at that time. Alonso and Vettel had a wheel-to-wheel touch in their fight and in lap 47, the German finally left Alonso behind. With three laps remaining, Button was still challenging Ricciardo for podium finish but Hamilton had gone miles ahead of the pack. Nothing changed as Lewis Hamilton passed the chequered flag in style to wild cheers from the grandstand. At the finish line Bottas was second, Ricciardo third, Button fourth, Vettel fifth, Alonso sixth, Magnussen seventh, Hulkenberg eighth, Kvyat ninth and Vergne tenth.
Other than Sir Jack Stewart, the British GP was graced by Prince Harry, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, Hollywood stars, Jude Law and Michael Fassbender, cricketer Stuart Broad, sprinter Yohan Blake and former athlete Lord Sebastian Coe. They all went back home satisfied that the race had been won by a British driver.
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