Sebastian Vettel opened a clear lead in the drivers’ world championship on Sunday when he wrecked Lewis Hamilton’s home-race party and claimed an impressive victory in a thrilling British Grand Prix.
The four-time champion seized the lead at the start and fought back after losing the initiative during two safety car periods to register his second win at Silverstone and the 51st of his career.
Vettel’s win for Ferrari wrecked Hamilton’s hopes of taking a record fifth win in succession and a record sixth overall, but the Englishman- who was last after a collision with Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap-produced a heroic drive to finish second for Mercedes.
His team-mate Valtteri Bottas, on older tyres, led entering the closing laps but was unable to resist Vettel or his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third. Bottas was fourth.
It was Ferrari’s first win in Britain since 2011.
Daniel Ricciardo came home fifth for Red Bull ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Esteban Ocon of Force India, Fernando Alonso of McLaren and Kevin Magnussen of Haas. Pierre Gasly was 10th for Toro Rosso.
“The safety car spiced it up,” said Vettel, wearing supporting tapes on his stiff neck. “I had the advantage of the tyres, but it was not easy to find a way through.”
Raikkonen apologized for his first lap brush with Hamilton which earned the 38-year-old Finn a 10-second penalty.
“It was my mistake,” he said. “I deserved the penalty, but I kept fighting.”
On another sweltering afternoon in central England, with a track temperature of 53 Celsius, the drama began immediately. As the lights went out, Vettel made a near-perfect start to pull clear into the lead followed by Bottas.