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F1: Hamilton imperious as Vettel cracks

Bryan Edwards

If one could ever say that a circuit has a soul, one must, surely, say that about Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix for almost every running of that race since Formula One was born. And if a soul can be resurrected, to come alive and celebrate, Silverstone did just that. As the F1 circus rolled into town and set up shop, the biggest question was if this would be the last F1 at Silverstone and, even, if there would be a British Grand Prix after 2019. While the terms of the deal are secret, it is likely that the British Racing Drivers' Club, the owners of the former airfield and Liberty, the owners of F1, have done a deal under which the cost of running the race is reduced. The deal makes sure F1 comes home for at least the next five years. Then the grand old dame of F1 shed all her cares and woes and partied and what a party it was..

The race was decided by a safety car. Giovinazzi tossed it off, into the gravel, shortly after Bottas, who drive faultlessly all weekend, stopped for tyres leaving Hamilton in the lead. The safety car was announced just as Hamilton approached the last sequence of corners and his team called him in at the last moment. That gave him, in effect, a free pit-stop. After that, there was nothing Bottas could do to close the gap. But Hamilton rubbed in his superiority at the end: with Bottas only the length of that pit-stop behind him, Hamilton's crew called him in with a handful of laps to go. Tyres with a life of 30 laps would need 32 to get to the end. Hamilton patiently discussed the pros and cons of stopping and then said no. The risk of a fumbled stop or some other problem in the pits was too great when the margin between a perfect stop and second place was less than five seconds. But he didn't slow down, either. Bottas stopped for new tyres - intending to go for the fastest lap point and he did take the FTD on the penultimate lap. On the last lap, Hamilton started having fun. Suddenly it was like he and the car were playing kites in the wind. He was just doing a fast last lap because he could, a speed up lap before a slowing down lap: when his team told him he'd picked up the fastest lap, he wasn't in the least bothered.

We are now seeing a very different Lewis Hamilton: he's now coming to terms with the enormity of what he is achieving. He says he's stopped counting records (he is now the driver with the most wins at any single circuit in the history of F1, say some commentators (I'm not a historian or a statistician so I can't confirm or deny it) but for sure he's got more GP wins at Silverstone than anyone else and the people he beat were the greats of British motorsport including Jim Clark who died in 1968 and whose record of five had, until now, been equalled but never beaten. He's reached that point where he has to tip between monstrous ego and a combination of humility and realisation that this has to stop sometime. He's chosen the latter which says more about the man than any of his previous antics could ever say.

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