LONDON • Home favourite Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix yesterday in a race that was like a transfusion of fresh blood for the much-criticised sport.
It was Hamilton's third win at Silverstone, after his successes in 2008 and last year, but he is still behind British drivers Jim Clark (five) and Nigel Mansell (four).
The win at Silverstone extended his championship lead over his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to 17 points.
"I could see all the fans on every lap in the corner of my eye and it spurred me on," said Hamilton. "I just didn't want to drop it for them. I am so elated you cannot imagine. I started to tear up on that last lap."
Rosberg was second, ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 31min 27.729sec
2 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes +10.956sec
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +25.443
4 Felipe Massa (Bra)
5 Valtteri Bottas (Fin)
6 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Red Bull +1:03.955
7 Nico Huelkenberg (Ger) Force India +1:18.744
8 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1 lap
9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1 lap
10 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren 1 lap
1 Hamilton 194
2 Rosberg 177
3 Vettel 135
4 Bottas 77
5 Raikkonen 76
1 Mercedes 371
2 Ferrari 211
3 Williams 151
"I was pushing hard to try and catch Lewis under difficult conditions but he made the better call and that is where I lost it. Fair play to him," said the German.
But it might have been so much better for Williams after a sensational start to the race that had as much excitement as all of the other eight races put together.
Towards the end of the race, Silverstone even had rain to cause more mayhem and unpredictability. It was a thrilling afternoon.
Massa made an inspired start, surging ahead of Rosberg and the pole-sitting Hamilton. When the Briton tried to put pressure on Massa and ran wide, he handed second place to Bottas, with Rosberg fourth. At the time, it even looked possible that Williams could win their first race since 2004, and it would have been Massa's first victory since 2008. Overtaking can be very difficult at Silverstone.
But Mercedes responded aggressively, bringing in Hamilton for an early stop and allowing him to jump the Williams pair, who suffered even more when the rain came pouring.
The unusual experience of running one and two seemed to confuse Williams.
At first they told their drivers not to race each other. Then, when Bottas told them he was the faster man, they gave their drivers the go-ahead to do exactly that.
Bottas had wanted to be let through. But Williams' chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, said: "No, we are not going to say let him through, we will allow them to race, it is the Williams way. It gets the heart beating but it is the way we choose to do it.
"We told them not to race while we sorted out how we thought Mercedes reacted to the race position."
But Williams suffered because Massa, as the leader, was brought into the pits before his team-mate and Bottas was always the likelier to make life tough for Hamilton.
The least Williams deserved was third and fourth. But even they were denied that because of some quick thinking by Ferrari, who brought Vettel in for intermediate tyres just before the rain with about eight laps remaining.
Fernando Alonso was 10th, but he put his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button out of the race on the very first lap, the consequence of another clash between the Lotus pair, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS