SILVERSTONE • Sebastian Vettel opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the drivers' world championship yesterday when he wrecked Lewis Hamilton's home-race party and claimed an impressive victory for Ferrari in a thrilling British Grand Prix.
In a race with two safety-car periods, reigning champion Hamilton went from pole position to the rear of the field before finishing second for Mercedes in a superb fightback.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third, after incurring a 10-second penalty for tangling with the slow-starting Hamilton at the third corner of the opening lap and sending the Briton spinning.
The win was Vettel's fourth of the season, 51st of his career, and once-dominant champions Mercedes' first defeat at Silverstone since 2012 before the V6 turbo era started.
"You're a lion," the elated team told him over the radio at the chequered flag as they celebrated Ferrari's first win in Britain since 2011.
The German, who had struggled with a neck strain on Saturday, said: "I was a bit concerned going into the race but I was fine, probably a bit of adrenaline.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1hr 27min 29.784sec
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes +2.264sec
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +3.652
4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +8.883
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +9.500
6 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault +28.220
7 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India +29.930
8 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +31.115
1 Vettel 171 points 2 Hamilton 163 3 Raikkonen 116 4 Ricciardo 106 5 Bottas 104 6 Max Verstappen (Ned) 93 7 Hulkenberg 42
1 Ferrari 287 pts 2 Mercedes 267 3 Red Bull 199 4 Renault 70 5 Haas 51
"The neck held up and that was a race I enjoyed a lot and I think the people enjoyed it a lot."
Hamilton was on a charge from the first lap, back up to seventh after nine laps but still 26 seconds behind his fellow four-time world champion.
The appearance of the safety car on the 33rd of 52 laps, after Sauber's Marcus Ericsson crashed, was greeted with a huge cheer from the 140,500 crowd and was just what Hamilton needed to close the gap.
Vettel pitted but Mercedes kept Hamilton out, assuring him he was "the fastest guy by miles" with everything to play for on tyres that would last the distance.
Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas then led and a second safety car, after Renault's Carlos Sainz and Haas' Romain Grosjean collided, kept the front four nose to tail and only fractions apart.
Vettel then passed Bottas five laps from the end, with the Finn's tyres fading, and Hamilton was also through a lap later and the chase was on to the finish with the German winning by 2.2 seconds.
"This is the greatest race of the year and the greatest crowd, I am sorry I could not bring it home for you today," Hamilton told the crowd. "I will not give up, believe me, I will not give up.
"My team did an amazing job this weekend, we got so much support. Interesting tactics I would say from their side, but we'll do what we can to fight them."
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda added: "The race was incredible. For Lewis to come from last to second was outstanding."
Raikkonen held his hand up and admitted he had made a mistake.
"At the third corner I locked the wheel so I ended up hitting Lewis on the rear corner. He spun, my bad," said the 2007 world champion.
"It was my mistake. I deserved it," he added of the penalty. "I took the 10 seconds and kept fighting."
Daniel Ricciardo came home fifth for Red Bull ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Esteban Ocon of Force India, Fernando Alonso of McLaren and Kevin Magnussen of Haas. Pierre Gasly was 10th for Toro Rosso.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE