There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the quality of Lewis Hamilton’s win. It took a typical British summer’s day – wind, showers, some sun – to give Hamilton the canvas on which to display his abundance of natural talent. The Englishman didn’t put a foot wrong.
Well, he says he made a couple of mistakes but errors by his exacting standards were easily forgivable on a day like this.
Forget the jingoism that will pour from Monday’s newspapers in a summer when Britain is being stuffed in just about every sport. The important fact is that, in an hour and 39 minutes, Hamilton wiped out the errors of the past two races and put himself back in the championship frame; back on top of it, in fact, with a drive reminiscent of his commanding performance last year in the wet in Japan.
There were a couple of key moments:
– The start, when Heikki Kovalainen and Mark Webber were slow away from the front row, allowing Hamilton to pass the Red Bull and bang wheels with Kovalainen as the McLaren drivers fought for the lead.
– The pass Hamilton eventually pulled on his team-mate; it was one of those ‘I’m coming through, mate’ jobs in the mould of Ayrton Senna.
– And the pit stop at the end of lap 21. I shared the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary box with Anthony Davidson and, for a moment, the former Super Aguri driver thought McLaren had called it wrong as they gave Hamilton a fresh set of intermediate rain tyres.
The track was beginning to dry and Davidson reasoned that Ferrari had it right when they kept the original set of intermediates on Kimi Raikkonen’s car as he stopped at exactly the same time. These were well scrubbed by now and would be ideal.
And so they would have been had one thing not happened; it started to rain a lap later. Having closed down Hamilton’s lead to 3.2 seconds, within the space of five laps it was 29 seconds as Raikkonen found no grip at all, his wet weather grooves having long gone. Game over.
Well, not quite. Hamilton had to keep calm, maintain his concentration and deal with the standing water that was sending cars every which way but the right way. In the end, he came home over a minute ahead of Nick Heidfeld’s BMW. And he was leading the championship again thanks to Raikkonen slipping to fourth while Robert Kubica ended his race in a gravel trap and we lost count of the number of times Massa spun into 13th place.
The vast majority of the 90,000 fans were soaked thanks to Silverstone’s topless grandstands, but no one cared. The sun came out and combined with the wind to blow away the damp just as surely as Hamilton’s performance wiped the slate clean.
For the time being. It’s back to square one in Hockenheim in a fortnight for the next encounter in this extraordinary season.