Formula One: Hamilton extends lead with impressive British GP win

AFP , Sunday 5 Jul 2015

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win on the podium with the trophy (Photo: Reuters)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton won his second successive British Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead in the championship standings over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton -- the first British driver since David Coulthard in 1999/2000 to post successive wins in the race -- came home 10 seconds clear of Rosberg in yet another Mercedes 1-2, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in third.

Hamilton -- whose victory was watched by 140,000 people the largest attendance since 1992 -- took his points tally to 194 and a lead of 17 over Rosberg, who had narrowed the gap to 10 prior to this weekend.

Recovering after losing his pole position advantage at the start, Hamilton stormed back into contention and regained the lead with a superbly-executed pit-stop to win by 10.956 seconds.

It was his third win in his home race, his fifth win this year and the 38th win of his career.

Four-time champion Vettel took full advantage of the changing conditions with an equally well-timed stop to switch to intermediate tyres during the showers to finish third.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had led from the start until lap 20, ended up finishing fourth ahead of his Williams team-mate Finn Valtteri Bottas, Russian Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull and German Nico Hulkenberg, who was seventh for Force India.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen was eighth for Ferrari, after making an early stop for intermediate tyres that ultimately failed to pay off, ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez in the second Force India and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso who scored his first point this year by finishing 10th for the beleaguered McLaren Honda team.

The race was punctuated by a Safety Car on the opening lap after a multiple collision that removed both Lotus cars and Alonso’s hapless team-mate Briton Jenson Button.

The grid was busy with British royalty and celebrities, including three of former pop sensations The Spice Girls -- one of whom Geri Halliwell is married to Red Bull boss Christian Horner -- before the start.

Brazilian Felipe Nasr, of Sauber, retired when his car failed on the installation lap, leaving 19 on the grid.

When the lights went out, Massa made an astonishing start from third, his Williams streaking between the two Mercedes men to take the lead. Bottas followed, but Hamilton resisted and, after a scrap through the opening corners, the champion regained second.

Behind them, on a tumultuous opening lap, a multiple crash at the Village loop corner saw the two Lotuses collide and the two McLaren Hondas do the same.

Of the four, only Alonso survived and, following a lengthy pit stop, he re-joined the fray.

"There was nothing Fernando could do, he didn’t drive into me," said Button.

"He was taking avoiding action."

Hamilton assumed control when the three drivers ahead of him pitted, after laps 20 and 21.

The Englishman swiftly opened up a four seconds lead ahead of Massa and took control while Australian Daniel Ricciardo, a frustrated figure this year, completed a miserable weekend by retiring his Red Bull.

Hamilton’s move meant, too, that he was leading for an 18th race in succession, breaking a 45-year-old record previously held by Jackie Stewart.

In masterly fashion, he drew clear by six seconds by lap 34 with Rosberg, in fourth, struggling to pass Bottas for third.

A 'virtual Safety Car' was signalled when Spaniard Carlos Sainz went off and stopped at Club corner in the second Toro Rosso, just as rain threatened. At the re-start, after 35 laps, the rain arrived.

As it intensified, across only one part of the track, Hamilton stayed out and Rosberg, with his car’s superior down-force, passed Bottas for third as others, including Raikkonen, pitted for intermediate tyres. On lap 41, with ten remaining, he passed the slithering Massa for second.

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