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It was a long time coming, and there were those that had begun to question, but Sir Lewis Hamilton showed that he had lost none of his talent amidst variable conditions at the British Grand Prix.

In what was his 344th Grand Prix, Hamilton claimed a record ninth win at the British race in what was his farewell home race with the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.

 The race commenced under the same grey skies that had played havoc with the Formula 3 race earlier in the day. Forecasts of possible showers during the afternoon left teams to ponder a range of strategies that might play out over the following two hours.

The front rows of the grid was just about every Brit’s dream; George Russell started from pole position with teammate Lewis Hamilton, in his last British Grand Prix for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 alongside. Lando Norris made it a British trifecta in third with Max Verstappen in fourth.

Nineteen cars lined up on the grid as Sergio Perez was consigned to a pit lane start. Oracle Red Bull Racing having decided to change the power unit on his RB20, given his back row starting position. Gasly’s race was over before it started as he drove the Alpine into the garage with a gearbox issue.

As the lights went out it was Russell who just managed to hold off Hamilton into  Abbey and Farm Curve. Verstappen was also quick off the line and managed to get the better of Norris for third. Piastri sat in behind his teammate

Alex Albon reported a possible puncture on his Williams after contact with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap of the race. He was reassured that the pressures were fine, but lost. a section of bodywork soon after that had been displaced in the clash. The two Williams sported a special tribute on their cars for the. Grand Prix, which featured the names of all the personnel that had worked on the Williams F1 cars.

Zhou and Ocon had started on the softer tyres and the Kick Sauber driver gained a place at the expense of Daniel Ricciardo in the opening laps. Ricciardo eventually clawed back the position by Lap 7, with just the two Williams between him and teammate Tsunoda.

Ricciardo’s race preparation was hampered by an issue with his power unit after the morning fire-up. That persuaded the Visa Cash App RB crew to fit an older unit to the rear of his car for the race.

The field had settled down for the 52 lap race by then with Russell, Hamilton, Verstappen, Norris, Piastri, Sainz, Stroll, Leclerc Hulkenberg and Alonso the top 10 as rain was forecast within ten minutes.

Norris closed on Verstappen and passed him down the Hangar Straight to regain third place on Lap 15. Light rain began then began to fall as Piastri closed on the Oracle Red Bull ahead. He moved ahead on the approach to Stowe as spectators in that section of the circuit began to take cover under a sea of umbrellas.

“Target would be to try and survive this pocket of rain Max, if you can” Verstappen was told by his engineer.

“Obviously your call if the conditions worsen too much.”

Hamilton had elected to run more downforce on his car than Russell and that gave him a mechanical advantage in the damp conditions. The #44 closed up on the leader and took over first place at Stowe on Lap 18.

Both Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 cars went wide at Abbey on the following lap as the rain intensified. Piastri also ran wide on the approach to the first corner, but Norris had no such drama and claimed second from Russell. He also complained over the radio that both Mercedes drivers had re-entered the track in an unsafe manner.

Despite the removal of DRS in the tricky conditions, Norris took the lead at Abbey on Lap 20 as Ferrari ordered Leclerc to box for intermediate tyres.
Piastri then made it a McLaren 1-2, taking partly to the grass as he moved ahead of Hamilton on the approach to Stowe.

“Lewis we think it’s time to jump to inters, let us know what you think,” Hamilton was told by his engineer.

“No’, came his reply. “It is dry in a lot of places,”

Despite blue skies in the distance, McLaren advised Norris that the rain was expected to last for thirty minutes and choosing the right time to switch to the intermediate. tyres was crucial.

Ferrari’s early switch to the intermediates had backfired by Lap 25 as Leclerc was lapped by Norris and then Piastri. The Ferrari’s tyres had already turned into marshmallows.

Ignoring Leclerc’s woes, Verstappen was told to box for intermediate tyres on Lap 27 as the two McLarens squirmed around the wetter corners of the circuit.

Piastri then inherited the race lead when Norris, Hamilton and Russell all stopped for intermediates, in part to cover the move from Oracle Red Bull Racing a lap or so before.

The Australian struggled to stay ahead and was soon caught by Norris. He stopped on Lap 29 and returned to the circuit in sixth place. By now the entire field had changed to the green-walled intermediates.

Norris led from Hamilton and Verstappen on Lap 29. Russell and Sainz had moved ahead of Piastri, who held an eleven-second advantage over Hulkenberg in seventh. Stroll was a further 1.5 seconds behind and 11 second ahead of his teammate in ninth with Tsunoda in tenth.

There was heartbreak for George Russell on Lap 34 when the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 engineers detected an issue and called him into the pits to retire the car. Rather ironically it was a water system issue that had caused the retirement.

The sun began to filter through and the track started to dry with fifteen laps left to run. Cars filed in at the end of the lap with most opting for the soft tyre. Verstappen was placed on the hard compound, while Piastri suggested that the medium was the better option – a view shared by his engineer.

Norris stopped a lap later for the red-walled soft tyres only to see Hamilton sweep past on his warmer tyres.

Piastri and then Verstappen set the fastest laps of the race as Hamilton and Norris looked to prolong the life of what now seemed to be the less favourable tyre option. Hamilton held a 2.2 second lead over Norris, with Verstappen a further 2.46 seconds in arrears.

Any chance of a podium for Piastri now appeared to be lost with the Australian 11 seconds behind Verstappen. The decision to run him one lap longer during the earlier shower had placed him behind Sainz and ultimately some fifteen-seconds from the leaders.

Norris was forced to concede second place to Verstappen on Lap 48, which left the Dutchman four laps to erase the 3.3 second deficit to Hamilton.

Using all the guile of a seven-time Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton managed to massage those soft tyre to the chequered flag, but only just. Verstappen had closed to within 1/7 seconds at the chequered flag, with Norris six-seconds back in third.

Oscar Piastri had closed to within 4/8 seconds for fourth place ahead of Sainz, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Alonso, Albon and Tsunoda.

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 3rd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team, and the McLaren team celebrate after the race

Daniel Ricciardo finished thirteenth using the back-up power unit, while Sergio Perez came home in seventeenth.

Liam Lawson will get the chance to sample the Oracle Red Bull RB20 at Silverstone later in the week in what one wonders will be the flow-on effect for the Australian or Mexican driver.

For Hamilton the win breaks a losing streak of 945 laps and 66 races since his last triumph in Saudi Arabia. It also marks the second win in succession for what appears to be a resurgent Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.

That also places even more significance as to whom will get the second seat at the team for 2025.

For the moment, that was all put to one side as Lewis Hamilton savoured success at Silverstone and the British Grand Prix once more.

“Get in there Lewis, you the man,” called his Peter Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer.

“Oh Gees, I’ve been waiting for this,” he added.

A clearly tearful Hamilton responded thanking both the team and the fans, stating that the win truly “meant a lot.”

“Since 2021, everyday day getting up to fight, to train, to put my mind to the task and work as hard as I can with this amazing team and this is my last race here with them at the British Grand Prix,” Hamilton reflected draped in the British flag.

“I wanted to win this so much for them, because I love them and appreciate them so much for the hard work they’ve been putting in over all those years. I’m forever grateful to everyone in the team, at Mercedes and all our partners.”

“ And to all our incredible fans. I could see you coming around lap-by-lap and there’s no greater feeling than to finish at the front here.”

“It’s so tough (not winning), but I think what is important is how you get up and continue to dig deep, even when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel. There’s definitely been days between 2021 and here where I didn’t feel like I was good enough or whether I was going to get back to where I am today. The important thing is that I had great people around me and continuing to support me and my team every time I turned up and seeing them putting in the effort really encouraged me to do the same.”

Photos: F1, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team & McLaren FB pages


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