Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton hailed his home fans after celebrating a record sixth British Grand Prix win on Sunday and stretching his lead over luckless Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to 39 points.
Bottas, on pole position, finished a distant second after a safety car period turned the race decisively in Hamilton’s favor by handing the home favorite a free pitstop in a thrilling race.
It was Hamilton’s seventh win in 10 races this season and 80th of his career.
The five-times world champion, now on 223 points to Bottas’s 184, also banged in a late fastest lap, on a set of tires that had already done 30 laps, to secure an extra point.
“Ah, what a day! I love you Silverstone,” Hamilton exclaimed over the radio after rapper Stormzy had waved the chequered flag, with Bottas 24.9 seconds behind.
Ferrari’s Monegasque Charles Leclerc was third after teammate Sebastian Vettel rammed into the back of Red Bull’s young charger Max Verstappen.
Vettel, who had been third but finished 16th, had to pit for a new front wing and collected a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.
Verstappen ended up fifth and behind his French teammate Pierre Gasly.
The victory lifted Hamilton clear of Frenchman Alain Prost and the late Jim Clark, who both won five times in Britain, and the champion pulled over to collect a Union Jack from a marshal on his cool-down lap.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today,” declared Hamilton, interviewed by 2009 champion Jenson Button after parking up.
“So many British flags out there and I could see them lap after lap. Every year I’ve been coming I’ve seen it and noticed it and appreciated it. You’d think you’d get used to something like that but I tell you, it feels like the first time.”
Lewis Hamilton takes record sixth British Grand Prix win