Lewis Hamilton and drama – the two words seem to go hand-in-hand. Today was no exception as Hamilton finished the British Grand Prix despite having a puncture in the last lap. At the half-way point the front left tyre failed on the Mercedes driver’s machine. It looked as if it was all over for him but extraordinarily he persisted and was ultimately victorious leaving Max Verstappen of Red Bull in desultory second place.
As he glided over the finish line, Hamilton gasped into his radio “That was close.”
Yet although this extraordinary ending marks the race out – and certainly adds to the spectacle – the overall impact of this event on the afficionado’s mind was small – a rather lacklustre affair if ever there was one.
It was something like one of those movies that we have all seen. Dull and boring until you decide to walk away from it. Then, you’re told by your friends who stuck it out that it had an awesome ending. While you’re cheesed off that you missed the end, especially after seeing most of it before you gave up, you’re still not sure that the end would have justified the time you have just lost forever…
However, Hamilton seemed quite excited by it all. He later said “Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing. Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard, I was doing some management of the tyre. When I heard his went I looked at mine and it seemed fine. I have definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap and my heart definitely nearly stopped.”
Heart-stopping or no, Red Bull’s Vertsappen must be kicking himself. He would likely have won but decided to stop for fresh tyres. At least these enabled him to earn the fastest lap but that small reward is insignificant when compared winning.
There was disappointment, too, for Valtteri Bottas who also suffered a puncture resulting in him dropping out of the points. The season is very short this year – thanks to a certain global pandemic – but this has probably dashed any hoped that Bottas had. Hamilton’s team-mate may have finished, effectively before he has started.
At least in this particular race there were punctures aplenty. Hamilton, tick. Bottas, tick. And while you’re there you can include McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. Yet another left-front puncture (and on the last lap too, the copycat!) means that he dropped to thirteenth place from fourth. That must have hurt.
Good news for Ferrari, though. Leclerc, who was in fourth place, gained himself a spot on the final podium by virtue of the puncture frenzy of the last lap.
Next up, another race on British soil. Formula One is celebrating its 70th Anniversary Gran Prix over the weekend. Punctures or not, perhaps Hamilton can make it a second win to please the home crowd.