'˜Proud' Lewis Hamilton wins British Grand Prix in Northamptonshire
Silverstone welcomed more than 140,000 racing fans who saw Lewis Hamilton claim the fifthÂ British Grand Prix of his career, and his fourth consecutive win at the Northamptonshire circuit, on an overcast but warm day.
Hamilton, who again crowd surfed following the podium presentation as he had done last year, led the race from start to finish thanks in part to an amazing lap in qualifying on Saturday which put him on pole position.
The 32-year-old was rarely threatened as most of the jostling for positions was carried out by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas - who started in ninth - who went toe-to-toe with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the battle for second.
The German, who began the day top of the drivers’ championship, would suffer a puncture with two laps to go which all but confirmed Hamilton’s victory.
“That was a feeling I can’t describe,” said Hamilton in the immediate aftermath of the race.
“I’m so proud that I could do this for these fans.
“Now the plan is to win the championship.”
There has been some uncertainty this year surrounding the future of the race as a result of the termination of the contract to host the British Grand Prix at Silverstone by the circuit’s owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club.
Sir Jackie Stewart, a two-time winner at the Northamptonshire circuit, was adamant that any future British Formula 1 race should always be at Silverstone, given its rich history.
He said: “Silverstone is special because it’s been the home of Formula 1 since 1950.
“Farina won the race, Fangio won the race, Ascari won the race, Jim Clark won it, Jackie Stewart won it, so did Prost, so did Senna, this is where it all began.
“It will not leave the calendar, it can’t, we can’t afford that to happen, the sport can’t afford it.”
A potential alternative venue put forward for the British GP - should a deal on a new contract not be reached - is a race on the streets of London. But Sir Jackie, dressed in familiar tartan and flat cap, was not keen on the idea.
He simply said: “No, this is where it should be.”
Regardless of the speculation about its future, the British Grand Prix did not fail in attracting familiar faces from around the world to the country’s single biggest sporting event.
Spotted at the circuit, established in 1948, were Hollywood’s Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson and Spice Girl Geri Horner.
Former heavyweight champion Frank Bruno, cyclist Mark Cavendish, Saints’ George North, Olympian cyclist Laura Trott, and golfer Lee Westwood were in attendance representing British sport.
Also in the paddock was grime star and actor Kano, from London, who arrived hopeful of a victory for home favourite Hamilton.
When he was asked about whether he would like to see a British Grand Prix take place on a street circuit in his home town, Kano said: “I would love that. People love Silverstone because of the history of it, but if it comes to London I’m good with that.”
Meanwhile, musician and DJ Goldie thought the atmosphere was the key to making Silverstone a special place for racing.
“It’s just the biggest buzz in Formula 1. There’s a lot of the engineering behind all of this, it’s all fair and good, but it’s the vibe of the British Grand Prix,” said Goldie.
“If they do it in the city streets of London will it be the same?”
Perhaps the most important contributors to the vibe of the British Grand Prix are the fans, who were once again in high spirits during the race weekend, roaring on Hamilton to his fifth win at Silverstone which puts him level with Jim Clark and Alain Prost.
And Goldie was worried that should the race move elsewhere, part of its brilliant atmosphere and class could be lost.
He said: “You can’t beat the British fans when they come out. It’s probably one of the less sterile environments you can get, and I think the problem with F1 if they do try and put it in a city, will it become very sterile?
“You can drive in here, you’re amongst it, and I think it would lose a bit of its class.”
Briton’s other driver in the race, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, was unfortunate not to make it to the starting grid as his car suffered a pneumatic problem on the formation lap.