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How 945 days of blood, sweat and tears paid off in Hamilton’s statement Silverstone victory

Staff Writer

Mike Seymour
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Lewis Hamilton produced one of the finest performances of his F1 career with a virtuoso drive to victory in Sunday’s British Grand Prix – one that not only ended a drought of almost 1,000 days and set a record for the most wins at a single venue, but also hit back at any doubters who thought his winning days were behind him…

A long road back for Hamilton and Mercedes

As the saying goes, you wait an age for a bus and then two come along at once. Little more than a week ago, Mercedes had only one Grand Prix win to their name since the latest overhaul of F1’s technical regulations in 2022, with the Silver Arrows struggling to adapt to the ground effect ruleset as their rivals – chiefly Red Bull – found the magic formula.

READ MORE: Hamilton beats Verstappen to first win since 2021 with record-breaking 9th British Grand Prix victory

Hamilton, meanwhile, had not triumphed since the tail-end of the 2021 season, specifically that year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, when his relentless, back-and-forth title battle with Max Verstappen was reaching its climax and ultimately went the Dutchman’s way.

Race Highlights: 2024 British Grand Prix

It served as a crushing blow for Hamilton, who had been pushing to move ahead of Michael Schumacher and set an outright record of eight titles, and Mercedes’ stubborn 2022 and 2023 challengers meant he did not even have a chance to fight back.

Indeed, between Abu Dhabi 2021 and Austria 2024 a whopping 42 out of 55 races were won by Verstappen, while Red Bull as a unit notched up 46 – the effective partnership cantering to title glory through 2022 and 2023.

READ MORE: ‘I can’t stop crying!’ – Hamilton admits there were days he ‘didn’t feel good enough’ after emotional return to winning ways

Light at the end of the (Monaco) tunnel

It was a similar story when the current campaign got under way, with Red Bull charging out of the blocks again and Mercedes still appearing to be lost in terms of car design.

However, another round of head-scratching at Mercedes’s Brackley factory spearheaded by James Allison – who returned to the Technical Director role last season – resulted in a long-awaited development breakthrough.

Since the introduction of a new front wing in Monaco and a raft of additional updates in that promising new direction, the W15 has taken huge strides. Remarkably, just one round later in Canada, the car secured pole position and a podium finish in Russell’s hands, followed by another rostrum result with Hamilton in Spain.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG

Hamilton got the better of his rivals in the challenging conditions at Silverstone

It would get even better as the season rolled on to Austria. Although Mercedes were a step behind the lead Red Bull and McLaren machines of Verstappen and Lando Norris all weekend, Russell was there to pounce when the two dramatically collided.

The good fortune behind Mercedes’s first win since Sao Paulo 2022 could not be denied, but it was telling that they were the team to pick up the pieces at the Red Bull Ring. Not Ferrari, not Aston Martin, nor any other outfit.

FACTS AND STATS: A record 17 years since his first, evergreen Hamilton takes his 104th F1 win

Hamilton delivers when it matters most

Mercedes returned to the UK with a spring in their step and, despite a low-key first day of practice at Silverstone as the team played a different game with tyre choices, the background data suggested Russell and Hamilton were well and truly in the mix again.

The wet-dry conditions in qualifying seemed to help Mercedes as the field switched from intermediates to slicks on a slippery, cooler track and, after Verstappen’s costly floor-damaging off in Q1, the pair sent the home crowd wild by brilliantly locking out the front row of the grid.

But while Russell led their charge over one lap, a similarly changeable race day saw Hamilton use all of his experience to turn the intra-team battle on its head, even before his team mate hit technical trouble.

2024 British Grand Prix: Emotional scenes in parc ferme as Hamilton celebrates a record ninth Silverstone win

First there was his charge to overhaul Russell when spots of rain fell in the early stages, and then his impressive intermediate-shod pace that put him back on terms with Norris, who had moved to the fore when the conditions perilously sat between wet and dry.

As the weather improved again, and spurred on by long-time race engineer Peter Bonnington, the inspired call was made to pit a lap earlier than Norris for the return from intermediates to slicks. With Norris subsequently overshooting his pit box and losing some more time, the lead was Hamilton’s – and one he would not relinquish.

READ MORE: ‘You couldn’t have scripted it better’ – Wolff describes Hamilton’s record home win as ‘a little fairytale’ ahead of Mercedes exit

Even a brief retaliation from Norris, who was running the same soft compound tyres as Hamilton, and an upturn in pace from former title rival Verstappen, who was playing the longer game on hards, could not put him off his stride.

An emotional moment for F1’s most successful driver

It left no room for error on an ever-changing track surface, as two of the hottest young talents in F1 breathed down the 39-year-old’s neck, and Hamilton expertly dealt with it all to get the job done and take the chequered flag.

Given a rapturous applause by the capacity home crowd as he returned to the pits with the British flag flying from his cockpit, Hamilton’s emotions came pouring out.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain celebrates finishing

It was a moment for Hamilton to savour as he celebrated with the fans post-race

All 945 days of blood, sweat and tears since the end of that 2021 campaign.

“I can’t stop crying!” Hamilton commented after jumping out of the car and embracing his mum and dad. “It’s been since 2021, every day getting up, trying to fight, to train, to put my mind to the task and work as hard as I can with this amazing team.

READ MORE: Hamilton ‘very, very grateful’ for long-awaited 104th F1 win as he explains why it feels ‘different’ to all his others

“This is my last race here at the British Grand Prix with this team [before moving to Ferrari], so I wanted to win this so much for them, because I love them, I appreciate them so much, all the hard work they’ve been putting in all over these years.”

Self-doubt at ‘the bottom of the barrel’

In an open and honest exchange with former team mate Jenson Button underneath the podium, Hamilton admitted it was a result he at times doubted would ever be achieved again.

“It’s so tough, I think for anyone,” he added of his journey over the last two-and-a-half years. “I think the important thing is just how you continue to get up, and you’ve got to continue to dig deep even when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel.

‘That was the most emotional ending to a race I’ve ever had’ – Hamilton

“There’s definitely been days between 2021 and here where I didn’t feel like I was good enough, or whether I was going to get back to where I am today, but the important thing is I had great people around me, continuing to support me.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who made a point of celebrating Hamilton’s record ninth win at Silverstone, and return to winning ways, rather than dwelling on his impending departure to Ferrari.

F1 NATION: Hamilton’s heroic home run and McLaren’s missed opportunity – it’s our British Grand Prix review

“To make him win again, at the British Grand Prix, in his last race for Mercedes here, it’s almost like a little fairytale,” smiled the Austrian. “You couldn’t have scripted it better.”

If anyone else in the paddock had doubts over Hamilton and his chances of standing on the top step of the podium again, the masterclass he gave across one hour and 22 minutes of racing last weekend blew them out of the water.

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