Here’s Lewis Hamilton, six-time Formula One world champion, just trucking along in his Mercedes-AMG on the last lap in the lead of the British Grand Prix. Nothing new to see, really.
Except he’s on THREE WHEELS.
Starting on pole, Hamilton led from lights to flag, later admitting that while he kept ahead of teammate and chief rival Valtteri Bottas, the Finn kept him on his toes throughout. Barring a couple of safety car incidents, and some decent midfield scraps, it was fairly unexceptional.
But then the last few laps happened. And all hell broke loose. Bottas’s left front gave up the ghost just after he’d passed the pitlane, so he had to limp around for what must have felt like forever. This was two laps from the end, and he quickly dropped out of the top ten.
The call came to Lewis straight away to be wary of his tyres. Then, on the final lap - around halfway through - Hamilton’s front left also said ‘sayonara’. With Verstappen charging up behind him on a fresh set of tyres, it was heart-in-mouth stuff as to whether Hamilton could keep his victory.
He did – just – limping home across the finish line on three wheels, to take victory.
Max Verstappen had something of a lonely race in 3rd place most of the race. Only in the closing minutes of the race did Max suddenly smell more points and even victory for a few seconds. After Valtteri Bottas had a tyre failure, Red Bull made the call to pit Max for fresh boots playing the safety card. It seemed the right thing to do with more than a pitstop ahead of the next car, but as he emerged from the pits with 2 laps left, Hamilton's tyre woes awoke that winning scent with Max pushing for not just a fastest lap but also for a victory. It was not to be of course, as he came across the line with 5 seconds separating them, a number that was over 30 seconds at the beginning of the last lap.
Many will say had he not pitted for fresh boots on the penultimate lap to attack the fastest lap (for which he picked up the bonus point) he could have won – but there was also no guarantee his tyres would have held up either and he could have ended up with nothing.
Right now, the Ferrari SF1000 isn’t good enough to secure a podium on pure pace, and yet somehow, Charles Leclerc has managed to achieve the trick not once, but twice, in four races. Some would call it luck but certainly you have to be there to take it and Charles recorded a remarkable podium given his team mates horrific weekend.
Silverstone you beauty! What a race.