Silverstone celebrated its 50th Grand Prix in style as Lewis Hamilton resurrected his title hopes with a popular home win in round nine of the 2014F1 World Championship.
The British driver was in desperate need of the victory with his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, going into the weekend with a comfortable 29-point lead in the standings.
Rosberg lined-up for Sunday’s race on pole following a mistake from Hamilton in qualifying, but the German was forced to retire on lap 28 with gearbox failure, leaving Hamilton, cheered on by thousands of flag-waving fans, to sweep to a dominant victory.
He said: “This has been an amazing weekend. Qualifying did not go as I had hoped but I bounced back to win and I now feel that the championship is very much alive. I believe I can win the World title – that is my aim and I will be doing everything I can to make it possible.”
Hamilton’s joy at victory could be seen by the thousands of fans, who flooded onto the track at the end of the race to celebrate with the British driver as he stood on the top step of the podium.
Behind Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas claimed a well-deserved runners-up spot for the Williams Martini Racing team, with Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium in his Milton Keynes-based Red Bull.
Entering next weekend’s German Prix at the Nurburing, Rosberg’s overall lead has been cut to just four points.
Rosberg said: “I’m still confident. My car suffered a gearbox issue which stopped me but these things happen. I started on pole and was leading the race. If the car had not failed then I believe I would have won the race.
“This was my first non-finish of the season, but the team are doing a great job and I am sure all of the problems will be sorted before we start in Germany. This will be another big race for me as it is not only my own home race but it’s the home race for Mercedes. Hockenheim is a great track and I always like racing there.”
Rosberg led the field away at the start before the race was red-flagged due to an incident involving Kimi Raikkonen on the Wellington Straight.
Raikkonen’s Ferrari caused considerable damage to the trackside safety barriers, forcing officials to halt the race.
After an hour’s delay, Rosberg once again led the pack until the gearbox issues sidelined him between Becketts corner and Chapel Curve.
With Rosberg parked at the side of the track, Hamilton proceeded to dominate and pull out a margin of over 30 seconds from Bottas to score a memorable victory.
A full programme of support races also took place across the weekend, with Silverstone’s Status Grand Prix recording success in the GP3 Series event on Sunday, while British racer, Jolyon Palmer, made full use of home advantage to maintained his series lead in the GP2 category.
Standings: 1. Rosberg 165; 2. Hamilton 161; 3. Ricciardo 98; 4. Alonso 87; 5. Bottas 73.\ Next race: Germany, July 20.