Lewis Hamilton slashed Sebastian Vettel's Formula One championship lead to one point by winning a record-equaling fifth British Grand Prix on Sunday, with his title rival capitulating after a late puncture.
“We were generally faultless,” Hamilton said after crowd-surfing with the Silverstone fans at his home race.
It was such a commanding drive that the relaxed Hamilton said he was able to watch glimpses of the race on big screens around the circuit as he led from start to finish.
Vettel was in third heading into the penultimate lap at Silverstone but Ferrari's four-time world champion fell back into seventh place after his front left tire shredded.
So too did the 20-point lead Vettel held over Hamilton going into the 10th round of the 20-race season.
“Obviously the pendulum has swung this weekend,” Hamilton said. “That is only good for Formula One and good for the fans with the close battle we continue to have.”
A battle that petered out on the track as the rubber remnants of Vettel's tire flew across it. The German was able to crawl into the pits for repairs just in time to ensure he still finished seven to collect the points that kept him top heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 30.
“It could have been a bit better for sure, but a disaster? I don't think so,” Vettel said. “I don't think there is anyone particularly to blame. With hindsight it is easy but at the time (the tires) felt ok.”
Even more remarkably for Ferrari, Vettel's tire trouble came immediately after teammate Kimi Raikkonen's car experienced the same blowout. Raikkonen still made the podium, with only Valtteri Bottas passing him to complete an unexpected Mercedes one-two after making up seven places.
“Great drive by Valtteri,” Hamilton said over the team radio after claiming victory. “Fantastic job, all weekend.”
For Hamilton, the victory after failing to make the podium in his last two races will vindicate the decision to embark on a two-day holiday to Greece after last weekend's Austrian GP. The jaunt annoyed racing fans in London who jeered Hamilton's name at the showcase of the sport that was attended by the other 19 drivers.
“There is no reason to question my preparations,” Hamilton said. “My performance is second to none.”
And in the history of the British race, level with Jim Clark and Alain Prost as five-time winners.
“I don't understand why the British hero was being beaten up before his home grand prix,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said. “l think that made him even more determined.”
As Hamilton was coasting to his fourth victory of the season, the combative racing was further back, particularly between Vettel and Max Verstappen as they initially battled for third.
“He wants to play bumper cars or something,” Verstappen complained over the team radio as Vettel attempted to overtake him on the inside after 14 of 51 laps.
Thanks to Vettel's misfortune, Verstappen was able to finish fourth, having provided much early entertainment, while Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was fifth.
“At the beginning I knew I was quite a bit slower than Seb so I just did my best to stay in front and have some fun,” Verstappen said. “It was the only thing I could do and luckily he didn't manage to pass me on track, after that little battle my race became a bit lonely.”