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Hamilton wins F1 British GP despite late puncture

Published : 02 Aug 2020, 20:48

  Michael Butterworth, Xinhua

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. File Photo Xinhua.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 British Grand Prix for the seventh time in dramatic fashion, as the Briton crossed the finish line with his front-left tyre having punctured halfway round the final lap, reported Xinhua.

A race that had been fairly processional suddenly sprang into life in the closing stages, with Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren's Carlos Sainz tumbling down the order after also suffering punctures.

Before the late drama, Hamilton and Bottas had been largely untroubled out front, with the Mercedes once again proving to be the class of the field on the famous Silverstone circuit.

But as the race drew on both drivers began to complain of tyre wear, and on lap 50 of 52 Bottas suddenly slowed as his front-left tyre began to delaminate, forcing him to limp round to the pit lane and dropping him down the order.

Hamilton's own last-lap delamination was a carbon copy of Bottas's, though the Briton had the good fortune to be on his last lap with a 30-second lead over Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who had pitted for fresh tyres following Bottas's puncture.

Though the Dutchman rapidly closed on Hamilton as the Briton limped around on three wheels, the gap was ultimately too big to overhaul, and Red Bull's decision to pit Verstappen as they chased the bonus point for fastest lap may have cost the Dutchman an unlikely win.

"Up until the last lap the tyres felt great," Hamilton said afterwards. "When I heard that Valtteri's tyre went, I was looking at mine and everything seemed fine, so in the last few laps I started to back off, but then it just deflated."

"I nearly didn't get round the last two corners. Maybe we should have stopped towards the end when we saw the delaminations [on the other cars]."

Behind Verstappen, who did claim fastest lap, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took third, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who finished strongly in his Renault. McLaren's Lando Norris ended up fifth, while Ricciardo's teammate Esteban Ocon took sixth.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly had a fine run to seventh, with Verstappen's teammate Alex Albon finishing eighth after an eventful race in which he pitted twice and received a five-second penalty after an early tangle with Haas's Kevin Magnussen.

Lance Stroll finished an underwhelming ninth in his Racing Point, while Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten with an equally dispiriting drive.

Drivers who failed to see the chequered flag included Magnussen, who was pitched into the barriers after contact with Albon, while Gasly's teammate Daniil Kvyat crashed in a big way after losing his car at the high-speed Maggotts-Becketts complex.

Both accidents resulted in the deployment of the safety car to allow marshals to clear the resultant debris, prompting a flurry of premature pit stops that may have contributed to the spate of late-race tyre failures, as drivers struggled to make their rubber last the race distance.

It was also a miserable day for Nico Hulkenberg. The German was called in as a last-minute replacement for Racing Point's Sergio Perez after the Mexican had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, but technical problems meant he was unable even to take the start.

Hamilton's win, coupled with Bottas's failure to score, sees the Briton take a commanding lead in the driver's championship, with 88 points to his teammate's 58. Verstappen remains third in the standings but now sits just six points behind Bottas on 52.

Mercedes are well in command of the constructors' championship with 146 points. Red Bull remain second with 78 points, while McLaren stay third on 51.

Formula 1 returns to Silverstone next weekend for its second double-header of the COVID-19-affected 2020 season - the inaugural 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.