LONDON • Lewis Hamilton delivered exactly what an ecstatic home crowd had demanded with a masterclass at the British Grand Prix yesterday, leading from pole to flag, untroubled out front by his rivals.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen could finish only third and title rival Sebastian Vettel seventh after his tyre disintegrated on the penultimate lap. Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas put in a very strong run to come from ninth on the grid to finish second.
Crucially, Hamilton has now closed the deficit to Vettel in the Formula One world championship to just one point - a 19-point swing.
Having already matched Jim Clark's record of five poles at the British Grand Prix, the Briton has now also equalled Clark and Alain Prost's record of five wins at the race.
His qualifying lap was half a second quicker than both the Ferraris, the largest advantage in the single-lap discipline any driver has enjoyed this season, and they proved unable to catch him yesterday.
His mastery of Silverstone in the Mercedes of the turbo-hybrid era is now unmatched. This is his fourth consecutive British Grand Prix win, again matching Clark's record and he has converted pole position to victory in the last three races at Silverstone.
"Fantastic job all weekend guys," he said. "So happy for everyone.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 21min 27.430sec
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +14.063sec
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +36.570
4 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +52.125
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +1:05.955
6 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault +1:08.109
7 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +1:33.989
8 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India +1 lap
9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +1 lap
10 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams +1 lap
1 Vettel 177 points
2 Hamilton 176
3 Bottas 154
4 Ricciardo 117
5 Raikkonen 98
1 Mercedes 330 pts
2 Ferrari 275
3 Red Bull 174
4 Force India 95
5 Williams 41
"The support has been incredible this weekend. I am so proud I could do this for you all," added Hamilton, who threw himself into the fans for some crowd surfing after the podium celebrations. "The team were faultless this weekend, Valtteri did an incredible job as well so it's the perfect weekend for us."
Far behind in his wake, as Hamilton cruised to a 57th career win and soaked up the applause from an army of flag-waving fans, came sudden drama.
Vettel, who had battled on worn tyres but looked like securing the final podium position until the blowout, lost ground after an emergency pit stop with a shower of sparks from the wheel rim.
"There was no sign of that happening," he said over the team radio.
"There were vibrations but I had it for 20 laps and it didn't get massively worse. The tyres didn't look great but they never look great."
The German's Finnish team-mate Raikkonen, who had been second before also being hit with a late puncture that sent Bottas and Vettel ahead of him, took third.
"I am really happy for this today," Bottas said. "It was not easy, with so many cars to get through, but the team did a perfect strategy. I just kept my head down and we managed it."
Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished fourth, ending a run of retirements, with Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo fifth after fighting through the field from 19th.
At the halfway stage of the 20-race season, Vettel has 177 points to Hamilton's 176, with Bottas on 154.
The Hungarian Grand Prix from July 28-30 is next up. It is the final race before F1's four-week summer break.
It is a tricky circuit with a lot of long corners and a place where Mercedes might be expected to again have an advantage over Ferrari, noted the BBC.
That gives Hamilton the perfect opportunity to take the championship lead outright for the first time this year. The 32-year-old already holds the record for the most wins in Hungary in the history of the sport with five.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE