Hamilton takes record-breaking British GP victory
July 8, 2024

His ninth Silverstone triumph was a spectacle, and the sport has hit the season's halfway mark after some stellar races.

Euphoria already swept the grandstands on Saturday. Mercedes turned their unexpected Austrian GP victory one week ago into a platform for more pace. George Russell led Hamilton into a Silver Arrows front-row lockout, and the pair had Lando Norris behind them in third for a British 1-2-3. Each of the trio had a chance to delight the home crowd with a win, creating a palpable sense of anticipation and expectation.

However, the teams and drivers also had to contend with the Great British Summer, and it made its presence known throughout. An overnight storm left scattered showers around the area. The rapidly drying track surface made slicks possible to start the race with, but forecasts of two incoming rain cells had upped the ante ahead of lights out.

The British contingent got away well, with Russell fending off the Hamilton charge in the opening corners. Lando Norris had unsuccessfully tried to take P2 outside at Village, but the move allowed Max Verstappen to get alongside his car. The pair had vowed to continue racing hard after their Spielberg crash and wasted no time proving it as the Red Bull took P3 from Norris at The Loop.

Hamilton takes record-breaking British GP victory

Those opening exchanges proved pivotal for the first third of the race. Relatively equal pace from the front-running teams meant the top spots remained the same while the strategists prepared for the rain. However, a dip in temperature preceding raindrops had slowed down Verstappen and let the McLaren duo close in before the wet weather arrived.

Norris and teammate Oscar Piastri eased by the reigning champion down the Hangar Straight to put Mercedes on notice that they'd need to fight for this win. Mercedes, however, were now fighting among themselves with the first raindrops hitting the track. Hamilton took the lead from Russell into Stowe, but the pair were tiptoeing their way around the slippery track. Both went wide at Abbey, allowing Norris to close in, and the McLaren stole P2 from Russell and bravely overtook Hamilton one lap later at the same spot to become the third race leader in a handful of laps.

Things also got worse for Mercedes, with Piastri repeating Norris' two overtakes, including a superb pass on Hamilton, to make it a McLaren 1-2. The problem everyone faced was the briefness of the falling rain. It was enough to reduce grip but not enough to change tyres. Those that did, including Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez, burned through their rubber and ruined their races. However, the second rain cell was much more intense and was quickly advancing towards the track.

Verstappen was the first to switch to Pirelli's Intermediate option, and the decision was crucial. The British trio waited for an extra lap to pit, and the tyre advantage gave Verstappen P3 without needing to pass Russell on track. Piastri, however, went around for another tour of the track, and McLaren's decision not to stop him alongside Norris cost the Australian dearly. He fell to P6, and his chance of victory was gone.

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Hamilton takes record-breaking British GP victory

Russell soon overshadowed any pain for Piastri, though. The driver from Kings Lynn has never finished on the podium at Silverstone in F1, and he wouldn't in 2024, either. A water pressure problem forced Mercedes to retire his car during the downpour, much to his heartbreak and the fans hoping for a three-way all-British fight for P1.

With blue skies suddenly appearing, timing the switch back to Pirelli's slick tyre became the next worry for those remaining at the front. Hamilton and Verstappen opted to swap one lap earlier than race-leading Norris, and their pace improvement over the McLaren changed the race again. Norris, who overshot his pit box when he finally pitted, would emerge back on track in P2 and had lost the lead to Hamilton.

It was now down to a final dozen laps to decide the winner, but any hopes of a Hamilton vs Norris scrap to the line wouldn't materialise. Verstappen, who went for Pirelli's Hard compound tyre, was much faster than the Soft-equipped McLaren and began reeling Norris in. A six-second gap between the two after Norris' pit stop had reduced to nothing with four laps remaining. There were no crashes between the pair this time, with Verstappen easing past down the Hangar Straight to take P2, but he would not reach Hamilton.

The seven-time champion had prevailed, ending his winning drought with an emotional victory at his home track. It's the final time he'll race for Mercedes at Silverstone, something he paid tribute to on the radio, and his family surrounded him post-race with hugs and adoration. Mercedes, somehow, has gone from midfield anonymity to consecutive victories in 2024 and has made the second half of this season seem like anything is possible.

Hamilton takes record-breaking British GP victory
Hamilton takes record-breaking British GP victory