SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton won a record sixth British Grand Prix on Sunday after jumping ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by taking advantage of the safety car being deployed.
In front of his home fans, Hamilton made the decisive move to the front in the 20th of the 52 laps by pitting to get new tires. With the safety car still out after Antonio Giovinazzi spun off in his Alfa Romeo, Hamilton rejoined ahead of pole-sitter Bottas.
“The safety car came out and it was perfect timing,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton had initially attacked Bottas on the fourth lap, overtaking but failing to keep position.
“It was maybe not my luckiest day,” Bottas said after falling 39 points behind Hamilton in the championship standings. “But that’s life.”
After finally moving into the lead, Hamilton avoided pitting again so stayed on hard tires while Bottas was on fresher soft ones but the world champion still set a lap record on the final lap.
By beating Bottas by almost 25 seconds, Hamilton extended his championship lead over the Finn to 39 points and moved ahead of Jim Clark and Alain Prost to take the record for British GP victories.
“I love you Silverstone,” Hamilton said over the team radio in the week when the track’s future for the race was secured until at least 2024.
It was an 80th career win for Hamilton, of which seven have come in the 10 races this season.
“Today was one of the best days I can remember having,” Hamilton said. “I have done so many races you would think I would get used to it or the feeling would numb down but it feels as amazing as the first win (at Silverstone in 2008).”
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari completed the podium after a crash in the fight for third saw Sebastian Vettel crash into the back of Max Verstappen on lap 38.
“It was my mistake,” Vettel said. “He passed me and he ran a bit wide which gave me the chance to come back
“I looked for a second he was going for the right and there would be a gap on the left … but it didn’t open and by that time it was already too late.”
Too late for Vettel to avoid crashing his Ferrari into the back of Verstappen, damaging the floor and diffuser of the Red Bull.
“He apologized,” Verstappen said.
Vettel finished 15th and now trails Hamilton by 100 points in fourth place.
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