Belfast Telegraph

Lewis Hamilton revives Formula 1 titles hopes by racing to glory at Silverstone

By David Tremayne

When it comes to redemption, nobody does it better than Lewis Hamilton. And in front of 120,000 screaming fans who demonstrated their support on every one of the 52 laps, he put himself right back into contention for the world championship.

A year ago, amid all the sensationalist stories of Pirelli's abused tyres, it was Hamilton who went home disappointed after a puncture on his Mercedes had handed team-mate Nico Rosberg the win. That hurt.

But this time the gods favoured the local hero and punished Rosberg who retired for the first time this year, the victim of gearbox failure. After his disaster in qualifying the previous day, Hamilton delivered. With interest.

The win wiped out much of the deficit that Rosberg's consistent smoothness had opened up since Monaco, and leaves them only four points apart.

"I couldn't be happier guys," Hamilton told his crew as he sang to himself on his slow-down lap, before adding excitedly: "Sorry about yesterday!"

He admitted later: "That was a really difficult day.

"You just never think situations like that are going to come out the way they did, and I went away feeling so bad for the fans because I felt like I'd let them down."

He called his family around him on Saturday evening, specifically father Anthony and brother Nic.

"I spent a lot of time talking things through with them, and said that I needed them here today," he added.

"Generally I do it on my own with my trainer, but I just thought that today it would be good to have them here.

"To be honest, yesterday felt like a kick in the teeth. So coming back today trying to turn that emptiness into positivity was my priority."

At the first attempt to run the race there was mayhem as the field streamed down the Wellington Straight.

Kimi Raikkonen crashed his Ferrari very heavily after running wide, swiping Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham off the road and triggering the retirement of Felipe Massa, who collided with the red car after spinning in attempted avoidance.

The race was suspended for an hour as damage to the guardrails was repaired. Raikkonen was taken to the medical centre for a mandatory check-up, where he was found to be shaken and to have a badly bruised right ankle.

Hamilton had already leapt from sixth to fourth behind Rosberg and the McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, having collided briefly with Sebastian Vettel as they scrapped for position.

When the race restarted he was soon chasing Rosberg again.

The German opened a 5.9-second gap as he battled past the McLarens, but then he went on the hunt.

His engine problem on Friday had prevented him from doing race simulation runs, but he found his Mercedes Hybrid behaving beautifully.

Where Rosberg pitted for fresh tyres on the 17th lap, taking another set of medium-compound Pirelli tyres, Hamilton kept going until the 24th and switched to the harder rubber.

He'd been within 2.8seconds when he pitted, but a delay with the left rear wheel opened the gap out to 5.9seconds again. But not for long. Soon he was catching Rosberg hand over fist.

Then the championship leader began experiencing occasional gearbox trouble. They were only 1.9seconds apart when Rosberg pulled off the track at Stowe Corner, his day done.

"At the beginning Nico got quite a good gap, but then I started catching him," Hamilton said. "Then on the harder tyre I was catching him at a second a lap.

"I couldn't believe I had that kind of pace. You never want to see a team-mate fall behind because we want a one-two for the team, but at the end of the day I really needed this result."

Behind the silver cars, Valtterri Bottas also drove beautifully to salvage things for Williams after their disaster in qualifying, hauling up from 14th on the grid and passing the likes of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel on pure pace to take the best result of a fast burgeoning career.

Behind him, Daniel Ricciardo likewise exploited a single-stop race to score another podium for Red Bull, but the usually popular Australian was not the fans' favourite as he just prevented Button from completing their dream by taking the final podium place.

The Briton was always a contender and drove his McLaren aggressively as his supporters flaunted their #pinkforpapa T-shirts in memory of his late father John.

But the day belonged to Hamilton.

"This win isn't as special as the one in 2008," he revealed.

"Because in that one everyone was aquaplaning like mad and all the spectators were soaking wet. But today felt I earned it. I felt I had the pace of Nico and was hunting him down like never before."

As he finally got to hold the gold trophy he had coveted since 2008, his sole complaint concerned the cheaper version he had been given on the podium which came apart in his hands. "Don't write anything bad about that," he smirked.

"Too late!" he laughed. "That was off the record ... "

Maybe so, but a majestic second win at his home track and a 27th grand prix win which equals Jackie Stewart ... That will stay on the record forever.

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