Perfect tyre switch for Lewis

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton showing off his trophy to adoring home fans as he celebrates after winning the British Grand Prix for the third time at Silverstone.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton showing off his trophy to adoring home fans as he celebrates after winning the British Grand Prix for the third time at Silverstone.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Risky change to intermediates while in the lead pays off as rain gets heavier

SILVERSTONE (England) • Lewis Hamilton celebrated an unexpected first at the British Grand Prix on Sunday, even if his victory was exactly what the army of home fans had expected.

"I think for the first time probably in my career I made the perfect choice, tyre-wise," the two-time Formula One world champion said after leading a Mercedes one-two with team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

"So I'm really, really happy with that," he added.

The Briton had begun on pole position but lost out at the start when he suffered wheel-spin.

Felipe Massa came charging through in his Williams, closely followed by the Brazilian's team- mate Valtteri Bottas.

"As I dropped the clutch, just wheel spinning, I'm looking in my mirrors to see what's going on but it just keeps on wheel spinning," said Hamilton. "(I thought) I'm going to lose my position to at least someone and obviously the Williams came past."

The safety car was deployed on the opening lap after a collision between the Lotuses and McLarens.

Hamilton tried to make a move on Massa when the racing re-started but went too hard and wide as Bottas swept past.

Hamilton then got ahead of Massa and Rosberg by pitting first.

However, late rain posed an additional problem with the race outcome hanging on when to switch to the intermediate tyres.

One taken on too early or too late, could have lost time or destroyed the tyres but Hamilton again called it right.

"It's always trickier for the guy who's out in the lead... and it's questionable how much risk you take," he said.

Within a lap, race leader Rosberg realised that his team-mate's swift call had paid off, leaving the German to settle for second place.

"I was pretty sure that was the wrong call because it was still touch-and-go at that time, so I was actually quite happy that he boxed," said Rosberg.

"But it was the right call in the end because it started raining more in that lap, so that was it.

"Anyway, I had to take that chance. If I had just followed Lewis into the pits, I would definitely have lost, so I thought I might as well stay out and do one more lap," the German added.

"It didn't work out so that's it."

Rosberg's drive to second behind Hamilton meant that Mercedes became the first team to finish nine races in succession with two drivers on the podium since Ferrari in the 1952-53 season.

Hamilton set a record by increasing his total of consecutive races, in which he has been the leader, to 18. The old record of 17 was held by fellow Briton Jackie Stewart.

Hamilton took his points tally to 194 and a lead of 17 over Rosberg, who had narrowed the gap to 10 by winning the previous race.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'PERFECT TYRE SWITCH FOR LEWIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe