Hamilton wins British GP to trail Rosberg by 1 point

Associated Press
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain jumps from his car in celebration after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix Sunday at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Silverstone, England — Defending champion Lewis Hamilton reeled off his fourth win in five races Sunday to storm to victory in the British Grand Prix and trail Nico Rosberg by one point.

The 31-year-old Englishman came home 6.9 seconds clear of Mercedes teammate Rosberg but the German was later relegated to third place after a 10-second time penalty for a breach of radio communications rules as he tried to resolve a gearbox problem.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was promoted from third to second, with his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo of Australia in fourth.

Hamilton’s victory completes a hat trick of consecutive home wins at the British GP for the Mercedes driver, and is his fourth win on home soil and 47th F1 career victory.

Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth for Ferrari ahead of Sergio Perez and his Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso was eighth, ahead of the struggling Sebastian Vettel who said his Ferrari was too slow. Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso was 10th.

In a reversal of the scenes last week at the Austrian Grand Prix, where a victorious Hamilton and Rosberg collided on the final lap, Rosberg was booed by fans during the podium ceremony.

“A great job and thank you so much guys for your efforts back at the factory,” said Hamilton on his victory lap. “Right now, I’m thinking about all the people.”

He then ran and cavorted in front of them before getting in among the spectators.

From the podium, Hamilton said: “We’ve got the best fans here so thank you so much . I am not sure you can be as happy as I am.

“I did everything I could to save that engine,” he added, explaining why he had not performed any ‘donuts’ to celebrate his win. “I saved it for quite a long period of time . So now, keep your fingers crossed, I’m catching him!” he added, pointing at Rosberg, who didn’t offer a direct reply.

“It was a tricky start in the wet. Then, Max got ahead of me and it was an exciting race. l got back past him, which I was very happy about, but I couldn’t catch Lewis. He did a great job today,” Rosberg said.

Rosberg leads Hamilton overall by 168 to 167 points, with Raikkonen third on 106.

A downpour before the race created havoc and an immediate call for full wet tires and a start behind the safety car. Hamilton led the way for six laps before racing began.

Both Mercedes drivers pitted for their intermediate tires on lap eight, ahead of the Red Bulls, when a virtual safety car was deployed as Pascal Wehrlein spun off the still-wet track.

By lap 12, Hamilton was 5.2 seconds clear as he raced in tire-conservation mode ahead of Rosberg and Verstappen, who was another 1.4 seconds back. Perez was 10 seconds adrift in fourth.

Vettel was first in for slick tires after 15 laps before Verstappen swept past Rosberg to take second.

With Hamilton leading, a series of pit stops followed, which gave Verstappen a brief run at the front before he pitted and rejoined second, 7.1 seconds behind the champion.

Hamilton managed his tires while Rosberg attacked the Dutchman relentlessly, but in vain, until lap 38 when he swept past and began to hunt down his teammate.

Rosberg slowed on lap 47 after reporting “gearbox problems” and fell back three seconds to 11 adrift of Hamilton. “Avoid seventh gear,” the team told him before he recovered to secure his podium finish.

In that dialogue, Rosberg asked for instructions and the team’s response was ruled in breach of the strict rules introduced to stop drivers being coached from the pit wall.

In a statement issued three hours after the race, ruling body FIA said that while some of the instructions from Mercedes were allowable, others were not.

“Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that the team gave some instructions to the driver that were specifically permitted,” said the statement.

“However, the stewards determined that the team then went further and gave instructions to the driver that were not permitted — and were in Breach of Art. 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”