As fans clung to the wire fence, Lewis Hamilton’s father and brother were cheered to the echo as they carried home the enormous silver salver which had been earned the hard way.
Trophies are ten a penny in the McLaren headquarters at Woking – the display cabinet is about a mile long – but, at Force India, the sideboard is bare. And, with the greatest of respect to the small team, it is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Which makes the loss of five certain championship points all the more agonising after Adrian Sutil had been punted out of fourth place with nine laps to go.
Enthusiasts on the fringe of the McLaren welcoming party spotted Dr Vijay Mallya and offered sympathetic applause as the Force India boss made his lonely way inside his refuge and disappeared upstairs.
For the last half of the race, it looked as if champagne would be the order of the day as Force India jumped from nowhere to eighth in the championship.
Instead, there was nothing to show, other than the damaged rear of a car rammed unceremoniously by Kimi Raikkonen as the world champion had another of his curiously inconsistent days.
About half an hour later, Sutil appeared, his overalls still rolled down to his waist, a Kingfisher hat on his head. Having been in floods of tears in the pit box, the German had composed himself as he sat down to answer questions from the media posse trailing him through the paddock.
The first questions from tabloid journalists had predicable intent.
‘D’you feel angry with Raikkonen?’ ‘D’you think he ought to be reprimanded?’ And other enquiries along those lines.
Sutil was circumspect. No, he didn’t blame Kimi; it was one of those things. In any case, the Finn had come to apologise. There was no more to be said.
Sutil had done all his talking on the track, his fourth place having been earned on merit as he came through from the back of the grid and kept away from barriers that appeared to act as a magnet to several drivers
Sutil’s only indiscretion had been a suspect move which saw him overtake three cars on one lap. It so happened there was a yellow flag incident at the time and Sutil was called before the stewards.
Whatever he said must have done the trick because he escaped with a reprimand. Not that it helped as he sat there with no points against his name.
Sutil’s luck had ultimately turned out to be bad. Hamilton, by now celebrating next door, will never be more fortunate as a whack against the barrier and subsequent pit stop had actually knocked him onto a strategy that would turn out to be perfect under the conditions, a safety car period then cementing the deal as it allowed him to close up and regain lost time.
Racing drivers need luck. And Hamilton had more than his fair share. On the slowing down lap, he picked up a right-rear puncture from debris. The race had been stopped on the two hour mark. Had it run for a lap longer, the deserved result of a brilliant drive would have been lost.