- Hamilton admits clinging on to win was ‘a real challenge’
- Champion praises F1’s improved response on racism
Giles Richards at Silverstone – The Guardian
Lewis Hamilton admitted he would welcome closer races after winning at Silverstone but praised his Mercedes team’s ‘exceptional job’. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Formula 1/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton hailed his remarkable three-wheeled victory at the British Grand Prix as the most dramatic climax of his career. The world champion, who had led from the start, had to drag his Mercedes across the line after a tyre gave out on the final lap.
The win, his seventh at Silverstone, was preceded by a well‑organised anti-racism gesture on the grid that Hamilton welcomed despite the extant disunity with only some of the drivers opting to take a knee alongside Formula One’s only black driver.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas endured a tyre delamination two laps from the end and the same fate befell the British driver on his last lap. As his tyre disintegrated, sparks flew from the floor of his car as it careered across the track but he wrestled it across the line five seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“That is the most dramatic ending to a race I remember having,” Hamilton said. “It was heated, a real challenge. I was super cool during the whole experience. I guess it hadn’t really sunk in, then afterwards it started to dawn on me what I had just faced so I had a delayed reaction.
“There was the race in Formula Renault where the rear suspension had snapped, I remember driving through the corners with one wheel in the air. I still managed to win just, I don’t know how. It was similar today but it was much more extreme.”
After complaints from drivers following a rushed and disorganised gesture in Hungary and Hamilton having addressed the sport’s leaders, the FIA and F1 had organised a set time and presentation for an anti-racism statement on the grid.
The drivers had all made individual televised anti-racist statements beforehand and then lined up together before the national anthem.
They were all present and wearing “End Racism” T-shirts, Hamilton and the majority once more took a knee but the split with some drivers still unwilling to do so remained. Seven drivers stood, Kevin Magnussen joining the six who had previously done so: Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Räikkönen, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Antonio Giovinazzi.
Nonetheless Hamilton welcomed the steps F1 had taken. “I have been really happy with what the organisers have done. F1 have really put in the time to get it much better.
“It’s important we need to continue to keep that up because we have this incredible platform. So many people are watching, everyone needs to be reminded how serious things can be and it’s important that they [F1] follow through on the promises they have said before the first race in attacking the issue in our industry so that will be an ongoing discussion. I feel confident we are moving towards it.”
The win gave Hamilton a dominant lead in the title race with Mercedes having a clear advantage over the rest of the field. Hamilton leads Bottas by 30 points with four races of what is likely to be a 15-race season complete. Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc bluntly conceded they do not believe Mercedes can be caught. Hamilton said he wanted more competition but acknowledged the team effort that has put him in such a strong position.
“I am a through and through racer at heart,” he said. “Wheel-to-wheel racing has always excited me, that’s what gets me up in the morning. This is not the championship fight I would have hoped for, I would much prefer to be having a super close battle.
“I really hope it is closer in future but ultimately it’s rules and we all have the same rules. We have done an exceptional job collectively and you can’t fault our team for that.”
Four protesters from environment movement Extinction Rebellion were arrested at the track after unfurling a banner with the message “Act Now” at Club Corner before the race.