SILVERSTONE, England – Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton won his third straight race and a record seventh at Silverstone but was forced to drag his Mercedes across the line after picking up a puncture on the final lap, in a dramatic finish to an otherwise uneventful contest on Sunday.
The Brit, whose paternal grandparents are Grenadian, seemed to be cruising to victory when his front left tyre blew, and he was left with an agonising few seconds to make it to the chequered flag, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen closing quickly in second.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third but Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who raced in second throughout, also suffered a puncture with two laps left and dropped out of the points to 11th.
“I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that on a last lap and my heart definitely probably nearly stopped. I think that’s probably how cool it was because my heart nearly stopped,” a relieved Hamilton said afterwards.
“Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing. The tyres felt great. Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard. I was doing some management of that tyre; he looked like he wasn’t doing any.
“When I heard that his tyre went I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine and the car was turning no problem, so I was thinking “maybe it’s OK”. Anyways, those last few laps I started to back off and then just down the straight it just deflated.”
He added: “I just noticed the shape just shift a little bit. And that was definitely a heart-in-the-mouth kind of feeling because I wasn’t quite sure if it had gone down until I hit the brakes and you could see that the tyre was falling off the rim. I nearly didn’t get it round the last two corners.”
Hamilton, whose latest victory follows those in Spielberg and Hungaroring and puts him 30 points clear of Bottas at the top, said the dramatic turn of events required him to keep a calm head.
“I think in the heat of the moment you have the adrenaline going and I guess that fight for survival instinct comes out,” he explained.
“I was able to stay calm and really measured and try to bring the car home but of course, I’m just sitting here thinking of all the things that could have happened. If the tyre gave up in a high-speed corner or something it would have been a much different picture.”
Hamilton started the season with a fourth placed finish in the Austrian Grand Prix in the first week of July.