Lewis gives fans the win they wanted

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IOL mot pic jul7 F1 Silverstone Hamilton Trophy 1

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates Mercedes GP team. Note that he is holding the original British Grand Prix trophy, not the red plastic one presented on the podium by the race sponsor. Picture: Christopher Lee

Silverstone, Northamptonshire - Lewis Hamilton ran a rollercoaster of emotions to give his home Formula One fans the win they wanted at the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Mercedes driver had been 'devastated' - his own father's description - after an error in qualifying seen by some as a pivotal moment in a season had handed pole position to team mate Nico Rosberg.

By Sunday evening, Hamilton was celebrating the second home win of his career and a triumph that took his tally to 27 victories - the same number as retired triple champion and compatriot Jackie Stewart.

Rosberg's first retirement of the season - compared to Hamilton's two - cut the gap between them to four points with the momentum suddenly swinging the Briton's way.

“Yesterday was a really difficult day.”

Hamilton, who spent the evening talking things through with his father and family, said: “I went away feeling terrible for the fans.

“I felt that I had let them down, not only them but the team and myself. Coming back today, trying to turn that serious emptiness and negativity into a positive today was really my priority.

“It's so hard to get your mind in gear, to get yourself back and not lose points from then on. And so the pressure is high. But I really feel that now we're back,” he said.

“Yesterday was a real kick in the balls. I really had to pick up, pull up my socks and get on it if I want to win this world championship, and I can't have situations like yesterday.

“The last two races I've easily had the pace to be on pole position and I've not put it there. I've put it much further back, made it much harder for myself but now I'm going to try to rectify that for the future.”

TROPHY WIN

Sixth on the grid, Hamilton was already fourth when the race was stopped on the opening lap. He swept into second place after the re-start and from that moment it was game on with the 2008 champion on a different tyre strategy to Rosberg.

The gearbox problem that struck Rosberg from lap 20 and ultimately forced his retirement robbed the fans of a real battle between the pair, but they could live with that.

Hamlton said: “I thought maybe the fans could be the wind in my sails to really change the direction and get the momentum.

“I've got the win today. I've got the points back. The points I've been chasing all year really, since I lost them at the first race.

“When you feel like the world is crumbling beneath you, somehow with your family and friends, they help pull you through and also the fans,” he added.

On the podium, celebrating is fifth win of the season, Hamilton was still not entirely happy however.

After all that effort, the emotional stress and the elation of ending a losing cycle, the trophy itself proved a disappointment.

“Where's the gold trophy, man? This thing's falling to pieces, look,” he exclaimed at being handed one presented by the race sponsor rather than the historic trophy with all the winners' names engraved on the base.

“The bottom fell off the one we just had. It's plastic, it must cost £10! It's so bad,” he grinned later once he’d got his hands on the precious gold one.

Moaning about the quality of the winners' trophy was, as his smile made clear, a problem he was more than happy to live with.

F1 LEADER ROSBERG RUES FIRST RETIREMENT

Nico Rosberg saw his Formula One lead cut to four points after a British Grand Prix he felt sure to win until a gearbox problem forced his first retirement of the season.

“I am very confident that I would have won the race,” he said as Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton celebrated a home victory that had looked unlikely after he qualified sixth on Saturday.

“I was very much in control until then.”

Rosberg had led the re-started race from pole position until the gearbox problem struck on lap 20 when Hamilton was still chasing to catch up.

Despite the setback Rosberg will still lead the championship to his home German race at Hockenheim next week but that was little consolation for the points lost.

He told reporters: “It's difficult to find many good feelings today but as of tomorrow I will try and look for them again.”

“And yes, there is that fact that I am in the lead of the championship going to a home race.”

Rosberg had finished first or second in the eight previous races this season while Hamilton, who has now won five times in the campaign to Rosberg's three victories, had suffered two retirements.

“It was just a reliability problem and a pity,” said a disappointed Rosberg. “So now we need to review it and push on and try and keep on working on any small reliability issues that we are having.

“Things were going well until that point. I just accept it as a reliability thing and go for the next one, Hockenheim.”

Rosberg said he had noted something before the start that felt odd and then after his first pitstop the gearbox deteriorated.

“It resulted in occasions where it went into neutral so I had to pull the clutch and go again. And then it just got worse and worse,” he said.

“I had the mentality of OK, let's stop racing Lewis and just try and get this thing to the end...but since it was mechanical there really wasn't anything that could be done from our opinion.”

NO PODIUM BUT BUTTON DOES HIS FATHER PROUD

Jenson Button did his late father proud on Sunday even if the McLaren driver seems destined not to stand on the podium at his home British Grand Prix.

The most experienced driver on the Formula One grid has yet to finish in the top three at Silverstone but, on a day dedicated to the memory of the dad who died in January, he came as close as he ever has.

Fourth place, after starting third, put a smile on the 34-year-old's face and he was pretty sure his father John would have enjoyed it too.

“It was almost a great day,” he grinned after so nearly overhauling Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in a chase to the finish.

“Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.”

“We definitely gave it our all today. To get a third yesterday and fourth today is far better than what we expected coming into the weekend,” he told reporters.

“My father would have loved it. I can see his face now...he would have loved the fight with Fernando (Alonso) and chasing down Daniel. It was the perfect type of race for him, he loved that type of race.

“I think he would have been a very happy man.”

Button had urged fans to wear pink - his father always wore a pink shirt for luck on race day - with special T-shirts made with all funds raised going to the Henry Surtees foundation set up by former champion John Surtees in memory of his late son.

The McLaren driver also wore a pink helmet and proudly sported a pink woven wristband given to him by a young girl he had met.

“It was a great weekend and one that I will remember for a very long time.”

The ever-smiling Ricciardo, also hugely popular with the fans, said he felt almost like a villain for keeping the Briton off the podium.

“It did cross my mind a little bit,” he grinned.

“Probably for once I've got a lot of people booing me and cheering on the local lad but obviously for me it was good. I think for him as well. McLaren hasn’t had a great season so a fourth is - yeah, it's not a podium, but he'd still be fairly pleased with that result. So hopefully we're all happy.”

Reuters


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