Monday, September 28, 2020

Hamilton limps to record British GP win after late puncture

F1

Formula One F1 - British Grand Prix - Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain - August 2, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with the trophy Pool via REUTERS/Frank Augstein

Silverstone, England: A lucky Lewis Hamilton limped to a record seventh home British Grand Prix victory after his Mercedes suffered a dramatic last-lap puncture on Sunday.

In an astonishing end to a race he had dominated from pole position, the Briton hung on to stretch his Formula One world championship lead to 30 points despite the tyre nearly falling off the wheel rim.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second, but would have won had he not pitted for fresh tyres in a successful late bid to score an extra point for the fastest lap, assuming victory was out of reach.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third, another surprise for a team struggling for performance.

Hamilton’s team mate and closest rival Valtteri Bottas failed to score after also suffering a late puncture and finishing 11th, despite a one-two finish for the pair having looked a nailed-on certainty until late in the race.

“I have definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap,” said Hamilton after inspecting his deflated front tyre.

“Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing,” added the six times world champion. “The tyres felt great.

“I heard that his (Bottas’s) tyre went and I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine. The car was still turning no problem... Those last few laps I started to back off and then just down the straight it just deflated.

“That was definitely a heart in the mouth kind of feeling...I was just praying to get around and not be too slow. I nearly didn’t get around the last few corners. Thank God we did.”

The victory was the 87th of Hamilton’s F1 career — leaving him four short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 — and probably the luckiest.

Verstappen’s race engineer summed it up over the team radio to the Dutch driver: “He’s a lucky boy.”.

Mercedes, chasing a seventh successive title double, have won all four races this season.