Lewis Hamilton scored his fifth win of the season on home turf at Silverstone, beating not only teammate Nico Rosberg and the Williams duo but the elements as well to extend his world championship lead.
The key to Hamilton’s victory came with a perfectly-timed pitstop for intermediate tyres, just as Rosberg was making huge inroads into his lead.
Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a moment of glory when they ran 1-2 in the early stages, but Hamilton established himself out front after the first pitstops.
The story of the race
From the 46th pole position of his career, Hamilton didn’t make a great getaway, but neither did Rosberg, so Massa rocketed into the lead from the start from P3, leading teammate Bottas.
The Williams 1-2 didn’t last long, as Hamilton retook second at The Loop, but Rosberg got stuck behind Bottas, almost getting by at Becketts but failing to pass.
Daniil Kvyat passed a struggling Sebastian Vettel at Luffield for seventh. Behind them, while battling Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean hit Marcus Ericsson at Village, and cannoned into Lotus teammate Pastor Maldonado, punting him up in the air.
Fernando Alonso spun in avoidance, taking out his McLaren teammate Jenson Button, but was able to continue to pit for a new front wing.
At the restart, Hamilton locked up at Vale while attacking Massa and ran wide, allowing Bottas back past him, restoring the Williams 1-2.
Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen batted hard for fifth, while Max Verstappen, who started on the hard tyres, spun into the gravel at high speed at Farm.
Kvyat and the second Force India of Sergio Perez passed the struggling Vettel, who dropped back to ninth. Vettel repassed Perez at Brooklands on lap nine.
Williams team orders
The Williams duo was told “no racing your teammate”, but Bottas was complaining that he was quicker than Massa. Bottas appeared to ignore the instruction, and attacked using DRS into Stowe on lap 10, but Massa covered him.
Williams revised the instruction to “it has to be a clean move” – and Bottas promised to make it on the back straight.
Despite the benefit of DRS, Bottas was unable to get close enough to pull a ‘clean move’ at Stowe, and said over the radio “it was too late”.
Pitstops change race’s complexion
Crucially, Hamilton pitted first on lap 20, a very quick 2.4s stop and pitlane time of 28.4s.
Massa and Rosberg pitted together a lap later, Massa stationary for 3.8s due to a slow right-rear change, and he just managed to squeeze out of the pitlane ahead of Rosberg. They both rejoined behind Hamilton, however, who was now the net leader as Bottas stayed out on his old mediums.
Bottas pitted on lap 22, a 3.2s stop, and rejoined behind both Hamilton and Massa.
Rosberg nosed alongside Bottas through The Loop, but Bottas hung on grimly around the outside of him through Aintree.
Hamilton found himself in the lead by 3s, ahead of Massa, Bottas and Rosberg.
Rosberg was told to push on this stint, but made little inroads into the Williams pair ahead of him at this point.
The race was neutralised on lap 34 under the virtual safety car when Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso ground to a halt at Club and needed pushing away by marshals.
As soon as the VSC ended, it began to spit with rain. Rosberg ran wide at Woodcote on lap 37, with only part of the track affected.
Rosberg then came to life in the tricky conditions, first passing Bottas for third into Maggots after Bottas had a huge twitch at Copse, and then he dealt with Massa for second at Village on lap 41.
Rosberg tore into Hamilton’s lead, taking 2s out of him on lap 42. Hamilton – who complained “I’ve got no grip on these tyres” – countered by pitting at the end of lap 43, going on to intermediates as the rain – which had abated – suddenly intensified.
Rosberg pitted a lap later, but his extra lap on slicks proved costly, and he rejoined 10s in arrears of Hamilton.
Vettel moved up to third, having pitted for inters on the same lap as Hamilton, as the Williams duo were forced to stack their cars.
The battle behind
Raikkonen pitted from sixth at the end of lap 13, with Vettel pitting a lap later for the hard-compound tyres and moved ahead of Kvyat, who pitted on lap 19.
Vettel passed Raikkonen for fifth at Stowe, just before Raikkonen pitted for intermediates dropping the Finn to eighth.
Hulkenberg slipped back to eighth after the stops, behind Kvyat. Sainz also got ahead of Perez at this point.
Sainz’s exit promoted Perez to ninth and Ericsson into the points.
Raikkonen’s inters gamble meant he tumbled down the order on the dry track, and then they were burnt out for when it did rain, slipping to eighth.
Kvyat finished sixth, finishing right behind Bottas, who struggled on the inters, ahead of Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Perez and Alonso, who scored his first point of the season for McLaren.
Will Stevens lost his front wing after spinning into the barrier at the exit of Brooklands, finishing 13th behind his Manor teammate Roberto Merhi and 11th-placed Ericsson.
Felipe Nasr failed to start when his Sauber’s gearbox failed on its installation lap to the grid.
Ricciardo went out with engine problems on lap 22.
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||+1:03.955||52|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1:18.744||52|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||+Lap||51|
|12||Roberto Merhi||Marussia||+3 Laps||49|
|13||Will Stevens||Marussia||+3 Laps||49|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||DNF||31|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||DNF||21|
|16||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||DNF||3|