Lewis Hamilton battles through rain to win British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton seized back control of the British Grand Prix after being overtaken on the first corner to win his fifth race of the season on Sunday and strengthen his Formula One title defense.

A Mercedes one-two was just as forecast — with Nico Rosberg completing a ninth consecutive double podium for them — but a thrilling rain-affected race was a riposte to some of the gloomy paddock talk about the predictability of the sport.

“It was exciting for me, the start made it exciting and the English weather helped,” Hamilton said. “It's an indication for us not to throw our toys out of the pram and say everything is wrong.”

Hamilton is the first back-to-back Silverstone winner since David Coulthard 15 years ago, thrilling the 140,000-strong home crowd at the central England circuit.

“Great job guys,” Hamilton said over the team radio. “I am so happy with that. Thank you to all the fans for coming out.”

Scattered showers at the Silverstone circuit added to the drama late on and Hamilton's switch to intermediary tires came with a well-timed pit stop which allowed him to beat Rosberg by almost 11 seconds.

Hamilton extended his lead to 17 points over Rosberg in the championship, while Sebastian Vettel is back in third — just as he was here after the Ferrari driver fought his way up to third.

“Without the rain I don't think we would have been on the podium,” said Vettel, a four-time world champion.

Hamilton's third Silverstone victory was his first after starting on pole but the start suggested it would be a disappointing day for the two-time world champion. Felipe Massa stormed out in front from third for Williams on the first turn.

“My clutch was good, it's just that we had poor grip,” Hamilton said. “It made the race even more exciting for the fans.”

The safety car was soon out after a first-lap incident when Fernando Alonso span into McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who was forced out of his home grand prix. Alonso was able to return to the race after front-wing damage was repaired and went on to finish 10th and collect his first points of the season. Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado also collided and had to retire.

After the safety car left the track on lap three, Hamilton moved into second but his pursuit of leader Massa ended in him being overtaken by another Williams driven by Valtteri Bottas.

Having locked out the front row in qualifying, the Mercedes drivers now found themselves behind the Williams pair. Although the Williams duo was eventually given permission to race each other by their team, the winner of the fight was Hamilton.

Massa and Rosberg went into the pits at the same time, then Bottas went in, and Hamilton forced his way back in front on lap 22 to roars from the home crowd in a four-way fight for the lead.

The threat of rain added to the uncertainty after the showers, and Hamilton's eight-second lead over Rosberg was halved. The perfect timing of Hamilton's pit stop to switch to intermediary tires with eight laps to go allowed him to take the 38th career win.

“It was Lewis' call to come in,” Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said. “We gave him the option. He did it at the perfect time and that gave him the edge.”

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