Criticised for swerving a Formula One promotional event in London in midweek to take a mini-break on a Greek island, Hamilton delivered the goods at Silverstone – and how.
He defended his trip by saying it was to ensure he was in the best possible physical and mental shape, and who can argue after his faultless performance to win a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix?
Not only did Hamilton move to within one point of bitter rival Sebastian Vettel at the halfway stage of the world drivers’ championship with his 57th career win, but he carved himself a niche in Formula One history.
His victory put his name alongside legends Jim Clark and Alain Prost with five British Grand Prix wins, as well as equalling Clark’s record of four on the trot on home soil.
In doing so, he completed Forumla One’s ‘Grand Slam’ – he won pole position in qualifying, led every lap, recorded the fastest lap and finished top of the podium.
He needed everything to go his way to turn the title pendulum his way – and it did.
The bonus for Hamilton is that Vettel was only seventh after a dramatic end to the race that saw both the German and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen pick up punctures that forced emergency pit stops.
Raikkonen had been on course for second and Vettel fourth but their late problems promoted Valtteri Bottas from third to second and gifted Mercedes an unexpected one-two.
Raikkonen salvaged third, just his third podium of the year, but Vettel lost three places and as a result his season-long championship lead over Hamilton has been all but wiped out.
But both men are looking over their shoulders at Bottas, whose second place means he closes to within 23 points of the lead with 10 races to go.
The day was all about Hamilton however, who celebrated at the end by crowd-surfing and high-fiving as many fans as he could.
He roared off the grid into a first-corner lead and drove off into the distance for one of the most emphatic wins of his career. The three-times world champions built such a commanding advantage that he remained at the front even after his pit stop halfway through for a change of tyres.
It looked simple but Hamilton insisted: “It’s never easy. The team were faultless all weekend. Valtteri had an incredible drive to go from ninth.
“The support has been incredible this weekend. I am so proud I could do this for the fans. Now the plan is to win the championship.”
He also couldn’t resist a pop at those who had questioned his midweek jaunt to Mykonos. “There is no reason to question my preparations,” he retorted. “I have more pole positions than anyone. My preparations are second to none.”
The usually consistent Vettel was overdue a bad day and he had one – much to the delight of the Silverstone crowd.
He had a tense fight with Max Verstappen in the early laps, the two banging wheels out of Stowe corner, Vettel forcing the Dutchman wide and having the favour returned.
Ferrari eventually got Vettel ahead by stopping him for tyres a lap earlier, but he was unable to catch Raikkonen and was instead eventually overtaken by the flying Bottas.
He tried to put on a brave face afterwards. “The weekend could have been a little bit better, for sure,” he said. “But disaster? I don’t think so.”
Despite also pitting with two laps to go with a puncture, Verstappen finished fourth thanks to Ferrari’s double trouble while Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo thrilled the crowd with a stirring drive from the back row to fifth.
Sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg capped a fine weekend with Renault’s best result since their return to F1 team ownership last year.
Now, after his fourth win of the season, Hamilton will feel confident of taking the outright lead in the championship for the first time this season at the Hungarian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.
He has won in Budapest five times already – that’s a record as well – and his Mercedes will be expected to have an advantage again over Ferrari on a tricky circuit with a lot of long corners.
While Hamilton celebrated it was a sad day for his countryman Jolyon Palmer, who is rumoured to be on the brink of losing his place in the Renault team. The unfortunate Palmer didn’t even make the start after his car suffered hydraulic failure during the warm-up lap.
Hamilton ensured the Union Jacks were flying high however and on this form the road looks clear to another world title.
Source : EXPRESS