Lewis Hamilton delights Silverstone crowd with victory at British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton claimed his first win in 945 days and took a record-extending ninth British Grand Prix victory on a wet, wild and emotional afternoon at Silverstone.

It looked as though Lando Norris would secure his maiden success on home soil but he was left exposed by his flat-footed McLaren team in the changeable conditions.

As the Northamptonshire track dried out following a splurge of rain, Hamilton, trailing Norris by two seconds, peeled into the pit-lane to switch from intermediate tyres to the soft rubber.

Norris was critically left out one lap longer and when he emerged from the pits – after a sluggish 4.5 sec pit-stop – fellow Briton Hamilton had taken the lead to huge roars from the 164,000 sell-out crowd.

Hamilton rolled back the years over the remaining dozen laps to take his first victory since the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen finished second with Norris third as pole-sitter George Russell retired following a water system failure on his Mercedes.

“Get in there, Lewis,” yelled Hamilton’s race engineer, Peter Bonnington. “You are the man, you are the man! I have been waiting for this.”

Hamilton’s voice cracked as he replied: “Thank you so much, guys. It means a lot to get this one. I love you guys.”

Crying in his cockpit, Hamilton said: “I love you, Bono.”

With Hamilton heading to Ferrari next year, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said over the radio: “We will prevail. We never give up and what a sign-off for our last race at the British Grand Prix. We couldn’t wish for anything better.”

For a large chunk of the topsy-turvy 52-lap affair, Norris looked to have done enough to win.

Norris slipped behind Verstappen to fourth on the opening lap as Russell blasted away from Hamilton. But the McLaren driver’s race came alive when spots of rain began to fall on lap 15.

Norris was crawling all over the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull machine before blasting ahead of his rival on the Hangar Straight and into Stowe.

The crowd stood in salute of Norris as the British one-two-three was restored. Up front and Hamilton was now within range of Russell and he took the lead with a fine move on the inside of his team-mate at Stowe.

The afternoon ended in disappointment for George Russell (David Davies/PA)
The afternoon ended in disappointment for George Russell (David Davies/PA)

But the rain took its toll on the circuit with both Hamilton and Russell running off the track at the beginning of lap 19 with Norris moving ahead of Russell at Copse and then Hamilton heading into Abbey at the start of lap 20.

Norris’s McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri was also on the move, taking Russell at the outside of the Loop and heading into the Wellington Straight before passing clear of Hamilton at Stowe.

Suddenly it was a McLaren one-two with Hamilton and Russell relegated to third and fourth respectively.

With the rain worsening, Verstappen rolled the strategy dice to move to the intermediate tyres. Remarkably, he was five seconds faster than his rivals in the second sector with Norris, Hamilton and Russell immediately switching to the wet rubber.

As McLaren serviced Norris, Piastri was left out on dry tyres and his afternoon as a contender was over.

On lap 33, Russell was told to retire the car from third place following a water leak failure with Norris seemingly on his way to victory.

But with the track drying out, Mercedes pulled Hamilton into the pits for a set of softs and Verstappen, now back up to third, following his one-time rival in for dry rubber, too.

Norris was left out on old intermediate tyres and when he stopped at the end of lap 40 his lead had been wiped out with Hamilton swooping into first place.

Further back, and Verstappen was suddenly on the move with the Dutch driver taking Norris for second place with four laps remaining, but he had no answer for Hamilton as the 39-year-old crossed the line 1.4 sec clear. Piastri finished fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

After stepping out of his Mercedes machine, an emotional Hamilton embraced his father Anthony.

The hug lasted for nearly 20 seconds before Hamilton removed his crash helmet, and balaclava before wiping away his tears. He then leapt over a barrier before standing in front of the record crowd draped in a Union Jack flag.

“I am still crying,” said Hamilton. “There is no greater feeling than to finish at the front here. It is so tough for anyone.

“But the important thing is how you continue to get up and dig deeper than ever even though you are at the bottom of the barrel and there are days since 2021 where I didn’t feel I was good enough or I would get back to where I am but I have had great people around me.”