Hamilton survives late tyre puncture to claim seventh British GP win

Lewis Hamilton survived stunning late tyre drama to claim his seventh British Grand Prix victory. Hamilton was coasting to the 87th success of his Formula One career when the race exploded into life in the closing stages.

On lap 50, the front-left hard tyre on Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes suddenly shredded, leaving him limping back to the pits from what was a comfortable second place.

A lap later, Carlos Sainz suffered the same fate with his McLaren, and then with half-a-lap to run, Hamilton encountered an identical problem, but managed to scrape across the line with only three tyres on his car.

One of the keys to victory for Hamilton was Red Bull’s decision to pit Max Verstappen in a bid to claim the fastest lap of the race after the Dutch driver had caught and passed an ailing Bottas.

If the team had opted to keep him on track, Verstappen would also have caught Hamilton, but instead finished just under six seconds down.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joined Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium, with Bottas down in a wretched 11th to cast him adrift his team-mate in the battle for this year’s title.

After starting off the season with a troubled weekend in Austria, Hamilton has now reeled off three straight victories.

Up until those closing laps, the race barely came to life bar for two heavy smashes involving Haas‘ Kevin Magnussen and AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.

Following a clean start, it did not take long for the safety car to make an appearance – as it has now done every year since 2012 – when Magnussen crashed coming out of Club, the final corner.

Magnussen had caught a kerb coming through Club, and although he was able to correct, he failed to spot Red Bull’s Alex Albon on his inside as they took to the start-finish straight.

It resulted in the front-left of Albon’s car catching the right-rear of Magnussen, sending the Dane braking hard across the gravel, into a barrier and out of the race on the first lap for the first time since the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Albon, who took on a set of hard tyres soon after and dropped to the back of the pack, was found to be at fault by the stewards who handed him a five-second time penalty. The Thai-British driver took the punishment at his second pit stop on lap 30 when he switched to medium rubber.

Eleven laps later the safety car was deployed for a second time following when Kvyat suffered a violent crash at Maggotts.

The Russian either took too much kerb on the approach, or he suffered a rear-tyre failure, but at speed, Kvyat was sent careering off track and across the expansive gravel trap before ploughing heavily into a barrier.

Kvyat immediately apologised, suggesting it was his mistake. After emerging from the car and standing in reflection on the other side of the barrier, he then pushed a television camera away that was attempting to film him.

Unsurprisingly, with 12 of the 52 laps run, it led to virtually the entire field heading into the pits to take on the hard tyre in order to run to the end of the race.

The only driver who did not take advantage was the second Haas of Romain Grosjean on medium rubber, moving him up to fifth behind Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc.

There followed six laps behind the safety car, with the likes of Hamilton and Leclerc complaining at times about its lack of pace, primarily as they were concerned about retaining heat in the hard Pirellis.

Once racing resumed, Hamilton edged clear of Bottas who never came close to making a pass, and with the race set for a subdued finish until the late furore.

In the mayhem, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth, followed by Lando Norris in his McLaren, and the second Renault of Pierre Gasly.

Albon managed to clamber into the points in eighth, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll ninth and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 10th, the German just holding off Bottas through the final corners to collect a point.