Hamilton ends F1 victory drought in British GP thriller
Mon 08, Jul, 2024
Source: The Race

Lewis Hamilton took his first Formula 1 victory since 2021 at the 2024 British Grand Prix, defeating Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in a tense and thrilling finish at Silverstone.

The race turned on two difficult pitstop phases, where F1 teams and drivers were required to make a fine judgement on when to switch from slicks to intermediates and then back to slicks again, and choose the right slick for the finish as the circuit dried out.

McLaren appeared to have the fastest car for the worst of the conditions, thanks to its choice of a higher-downforce rear wing ahead of qualifying. 

This helped Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri overtake the two Mercedes on-track as the first round of pitstops approached.

George Russell had converted pole position into the race lead, ahead of team-mate Hamilton, but both struggled to keep their cars on track as the rain intensified.

Hamilton took the lead from Russell at Stowe, visibly more confident than his team-mate as the grip reduced, but then both Mercedes went off at Abbey, giving the McLaren drivers the impetus to pass both of them on consecutive laps to run 1-2.

Then came McLaren’s first mistake, failing to double-stack its drivers in the pits as the leaders stopped to switch from slicks to intermediates.

Norris retained the lead from Hamilton, but waiting an extra lap to stop meant Piastri dropped from second to sixth, having caught up to Norris just before the pitstop phase.

Shortly after this round of stops, polesitter Russell retired from the race with what Mercedes called a “water system issue”, leaving Hamilton to fight Norris and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull alone.

The track then began drying out again and now came the second big strategic call: when to pit for slicks and what compound to choose?

Hamilton and Verstappen pulled the trigger at the end of lap 38/52, Hamilton fitting softs and Verstappen hards. Piastri followed them in and took a set of mediums.

Norris stopped on the next lap and, after some significant radio chatter, opted to cover Hamilton’s choice of softs.

This didn’t work - the medium or the hard was the better choice and as Norris’s front-left began to wilt Verstappen closed in, eventually passing the McLaren for second around the outside at Stowe with DRS open with four laps to go.

The reigning triple world champion closed to within 1.4s of Hamilton at the flag but ran out of laps to catch and pass the Mercedes.

Hamilton’s first victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix owed as much to his superb feel in the wet and tyre management in the dry as it did Mercedes’ aggressive strategy calls.

Verstappen also drove superbly, his car and its new floor (replaced after he damaged the original in qualifying) coming alive as the race wore on.

Norris completed the podium, disappointed at getting the key calls wrong (again), while Piastri (on the better tyre) finished fourth, well ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

Nico Hulkenberg followed up impressive qualifying pace with an excellent sixth place in the upgraded Haas, beating both Aston Martins despite dropping to ninth on the opening lap with a wide moment at Turn 3.

Lance Stroll finished ahead of Fernando Alonso in seventh, while Alex Albon’s Williams and Yuki Tsunoda’s RB rounded out the points scorers.

Neither Charles Leclerc nor Sergio Perez figured in the battle for even minor points - both suffering horribly for switching to intermediates far too early when the track was still too dry.

Leclerc could only recover to 14th on a difficult weekend for Ferrari, which has hit bouncing problems with its latest Spanish GP aero upgrade and had to revert to an older specification.

Perez finished a lowly 17th after starting from the pitlane as pressure mounts on him to turn around a miserable run of form or risk potentially losing his Red Bull seat.