Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix for the fourth time in his career, his third in a row at Silverstone, ahead of Nico Rosberg who battled his way past Red Bull’s Max Verstappen but lost the place in the stewards' room.
Following a start behind the safety car, Hamilton dominated the event to win by seven seconds over Rosberg – with a big moment on a damp patch at the treacherous Abbey Corner the only true threat to his victory.
The best duel of the race was Verstappen v Rosberg. Verstappen nailed Rosberg with a sensational round-the-outside pass while track conditions were still tricky, but Rosberg repassed him in the dry later on.
Rosberg then lost seventh gear in the closing stages, but Verstappen wasn’t close enough to take advantage.
Rosberg was placed under investigation after the race, however, as his engineer told him shift through the missing seventh gear, straight into eighth.
After the race he was handed a 10s penalty, dropping him to third and promoting Verstappen to the runner-up spot.
Hamilton now closes to within one point of championship leader Rosberg.
Story of the race
A pre-event downpour meant a start behind the safety car, but not before five laps of running behind it – during which Hamilton almost hit the safety car at Copse.
Hamilton led Rosberg and the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo when the wet-shod field was unleashed on lap six in bright sunshine.
Cars pitting for intermediates straight away were Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Gutierrez. Hamilton led Rosberg by 4s already.
A lap later, Ricciardo, Felipe Massa, Daniil Kvyat, Jenson Button, Jolyon Palmer and Rio Haryanto came in. Ricciardo was very close to being released into the path of an incoming Button, and rejoined in battle with Raikkonen.
Wehrlein went off into the gravel at Abbey, causing a virtual safety car: “aquaplaning, first corner, no chance,” he reported.
Hamilton and Rosberg pitted for inters together, but with a sufficient gap not to stack, on lap eight. Perez also pitted late, elevating himself to fourth behind Verstappen.
The race restarted with Hamilton leading by 4.5s, with another 4s back to Verstappen. Perez was 6s clear of Ricciardo, who was ahead of Raikkonen, Sainz, Massa and Bottas.
Bottas spun out of ninth under pressure from Hulkenberg at Vale, losing four places.
The gap between the leaders went out to 5s on lap 10, but Rosberg then began to nibble into Hamilton’s lead, while third-placed Verstappen was catching Rosberg quickly.
Verstappen attacked Rosberg on lap 16, and grabbed second with a fantastic round-the-outside move at the last element of Becketts and sealed it through Chapel.
Sixth-placed Raikkonen had a big moment at Abbey, while teammate Vettel stopped for slicks on lap 16, taking the medium-compound rubber. Raikkonen followed suit a lap later.
Hamilton pitted with a 4.2s lead over Verstappen, who was lighting up the timing screen with fastest sector times at the crossover point between inters and slicks.
Verstappen versus Rosberg
Verstappen pitted a lap later, rejoining well clear of Rosberg but 6s behind Hamilton. He took 1s out of Hamilton in just one lap on fresh rubber, but a huge moment at Abbey lost him 2.4s on lap 22.
Ricciardo took fourth from Perez on lap 22, but was 13s behind Rosberg by this point.
By half distance, Hamilton led Verstappen by 6s, with Rosberg closing in on the Red Bull for second.
Hamilton lost 2.6s by taking to the escape road at Abbey, with Verstappen following suit seconds later. Rosberg only gained 0.7s on Verstappen, however, who had another big moment at Vale while lapping Gutierrez. “The blue flags are ridiculous,” complained Verstappen, who took things into his own hands by shaking his fist at lapped cars.
Rosberg got into Verstappen’s DRS range on lap 32, but his first attack was repelled at Stowe.
Verstappen’s tactic on the Hangar Straight was to move left exiting Chapel and then defending right into Stowe. “That is moving twice, that is not on,” complained Rosberg of his moves.
“I’m struggling quite a bit with the rear,” admitted Verstappen.
Rosberg took second with a bold, DRS-assisted move, around the outside of Verstappen at Stowe.
That looked to have settled the podium positions until Rosberg hit gearbox trouble with seven laps remaining. “Avoid seventh gear, you need to shift through it,” he was told.
Although he finished second, Rosberg was handed a 10s penalty by stewards after the race for contravening the FIA's radio rules.
Ricciardo finished a distant fourth, as Raikkonen passed Perez for fifth at Stowe with six laps to go. Perez had produced the save of the day at Abbey by not spinning after a huge moment there on lap 32, retaining his position.
Hulkenberg finished seventh, ahead of Sainz.
Hectic action further back
Early slicks stopper Vettel immediately set fastest lap but then spun off on his next tour, having got on to the wet patches at Abbey and then spinning through Farm.
Sainz half spun at Club while chasing Raikkonen for sixth. Alonso and Massa got embroiled in a huge battle for ninth, with Alonso clipping the grass on the Wellington Straight as he tried to get a run into Brooklands.
Alonso suffered a huge spin through the gravel at Abbey on lap 25, dropping from 10th to 13th, just fending off Bottas through Aintree. Nasr passed Bottas for 14th, but the Finn soon retook the position.
Raikkonen went off at Abbey for the second time, losing sixth place to Sainz. But Raikkonen regained the position when Sainz spun at Abbey, with Hulkenberg also moving up to seventh.
Vettel drove back into the points by passing Kvyat at Stowe on lap 29, and then took ninth from Massa with a robust move at Village.
“He pushed me out of the track,” complained Massa. Vettel was given a 5s time penalty for his move, which he celebrated by taking to the much-used escape road at Abbey.
Ninth-placed Vettel had to stay 5s ahead of Kvyat, and did so, while out of the points were Massa, Button, Alonso, Bottas, Nasr and Gutierrez.
Renault released Palmer, who had been running ahead of teammate Magnussen, without a right-rear wheel in his stop for slick tyres. Palmer received a 10s stop/go penalty.
Marcus Ericsson was the first retirement in the car Sauber rebuilt overnight after his huge FP3 crash on Saturday.
Palmer retired with 12 laps to go with a gearbox issue, and Magnussen’s car was also retired. Other retirements included Grosjean’s Haas, which pulled off on lap 19, while Haryanto crashed out at Abbey on lap 26, without too much damage.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||8.250|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||26.211|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||1'16.941|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||Mercedes||1'17.712|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||1'25.858|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||1'32.600|
|11||Felipe Massa||Williams||Mercedes||1 Lap|
|12||Jenson Button||McLaren||Honda||1 Lap|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||Honda||1 Lap|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||Mercedes||1 Lap|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||Renault||1 Lap|