F1 British GP: Why Lewis Hamilton’s Silverstone success is one of his most magical victories

F1 British GP: Why Lewis Hamilton’s Silverstone success is one of his most magical victories
F1 British GP: Why Lewis Hamilton’s Silverstone success is one of his most magical victories

If you had made the same good decision 103 times before, do you think the 104th time would have affected you most?

Would it feel as special, or even more special, than the very first time? Would it hit your heart so hard that you would lose all composure in the blink of an eye? Would your limbs turn to jelly when things started to settle down afterwards? Would you cry like a little boy in front of your family, friends, and coworkers?

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Probably not. But then again, you’re not Lewis Hamilton, and you just won your 104th Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion, who had not won in two and a half years, delivered one of the best performances of his career at Sunday’s British Grand Prix take the checkered flag in front of his home crowd, to remind the world that he is still performing at the peak of his powers.

“Thank you so much guys, this means a lot to me,” he said afterwards over the team radio through an audible flood of tears.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2024 British Grand Prix

Record-breaking Hamilton

It was Hamilton’s ninth victory on home soil, a record for a driver at a single circuit in the 74-year history of Formula 1. The victory was achieved with the trademark mix of brilliant decision-making, supreme opportunism and sheer speed that has characterised the career of the sport’s most successful driver ever.

Hamilton, who had started second behind team-mate George Russell, mastered the tumultuous conditions – constantly going from dry to wet and back again with seemingly no time for the drivers to adapt – and presented Russell, McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri with a series of challenges. and arch-rival Max Verstappen.

The Mercedes was the fastest car in qualifying on saturdaybut the McLaren looked to have the upper hand for much of Sunday’s race, with Norris and Piastri passing Russell and Hamilton with ease as the track became increasingly wet thanks to their machines’ improved balance through the corners.

But when it came time for the final change, the moment when each driver had to decide when to ditch the intermediates and switch back to slicks, Hamilton not only chose the right moment but also the right rubber to fulfil his dream of returning to the top step.

While Norris stayed out a lap too long and fell behind, Verstappen opted for hard tyres compared to Hamilton’s soft tyres and closed the gap in the final few laps. Had the race been a few laps longer, the Dutchman would undoubtedly have made the overtaking manoeuvre and taken the win.

But that decision to opt for used soft tyres instead of new hard tyres ultimately gave Hamilton the victory.

They gave him the speed on the outlap to punish Norris’ stupidity by staying out longer, and at the same time they let him keep a lead over Verstappen in third. The three-time world champion didn’t have enough time to reduce it once he had passed Norris and Hamilton’s soft tyres started to lose grip.

Hamilton mastered the conditions perfectly and won in front of an adoring home crowd

Hamilton’s expert drive at Silverstone

Throughout the race, Hamilton skillfully kept himself in the DRS range of the cars in front of him to maximize the life of his tires. He drove aggressively at the right points to first close in on his rivals and then extend his lead over them. Furthermore, he punished his rivals’ mistakes mercilessly.

Hamilton’s sheer intelligence makes this performance one of the most impressive he has ever achieved.

When you combine the quality of his performance with the time that has elapsed since he last crossed the finish line in first place, you can understand why Hamilton was so emotional afterwards.

In his post-race interview with former McLaren teammate Jenson Button, he said: “I can’t stop crying. Since 2021 I’ve given up fighting every day, training, working as hard as I can with this amazing team. I wanted to win this for them so badly because I love them so much. I’m eternally grateful. “The most important thing is to keep digging deep, even when you feel like you’re at rock bottom. There were definitely days when I didn’t feel good enough or like I wasn’t going to get back here.

He later added: “It’s surreal. My heart is racing. I’ve had so many great times here, but when I crossed that line, it released something inside me that I’ve been holding on to for a long time.

“This is the most emotional end to a race I’ve ever experienced. There were so many thoughts and doubts in my head along the way (since 2021) – sometimes I didn’t want to continue. Being successful is honestly the best feeling I can remember.”

For the most successful man this championship has ever known, a one-off victory in a season where he is nowhere near a title contender is a testament to the sheer magic of elite sport. It can send the most legendary superheroes into waves of bewildered ecstasy, even when they least expect it.

Sometimes you do something so many times that the magic disappears. And sometimes you do it a 104th time and you feel more alive than ever before.

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