Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton took victory at the 2017 British Grand Prix on Sunday and climbed within one point of Formula 1 standings leader Sebastian Vettel after a nightmarish late collapse for both Ferrari drivers.
Hamilton held on for victory ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while Kimi Raikkonen limped to third following a puncture two laps from the finish and Vettel was forced to settle for seventh following his own puncture near the finish.
The victor became the second driver in Formula 1 history to win four consecutive British Grand Prix crowns after Jim Clark clinched four of his joint-record five titles between 1962 and 1965.
The official Formula 1 Twitter account posted the results of Sunday's classification at Silverstone Circuit:
Formula 1 @F1
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION Massive drama on the final laps as Hamilton cuts Vettel's championship lead to one point #BritishGP 🇬🇧 https://t.co/LAQ8wfDW4b2017-7-16 13:33:38
And here's how the drivers' standings are shaping up midway through the 2017 season:
Formula 1 @F1
DRIVER STANDINGS One point in it One more race before summer break (HUN) So what's everyone doing two weeks from today? 🤔😉 #BritishGP 🇬🇧 https://t.co/z3w3sGs9qo2017-7-16 13:59:31
There was early calamity for Toro Rosso when Russian Daniil Kyvat attempted a risky overtake of team-mate Carlos Sainz at Beckett's resulting in a safety car after just the second lap—not to mention the Spaniard's exit from the race.
Kyvat—who has now collided with Sainz in two of their last three races and earned a drive-through penalty as a result of his exuberance—also sustained damage to his car but was determined to defend his place in the incident, per F1 on NBC Sports:
F1 on NBC Sports @F1onNBCSports
"He just drove into me," Kvyat replies. Sainz is out of the race, and Kyvat is in the pits. #F1onNBC #BritishGP2017-7-16 12:09:49
The race resumed at the fifth lap and saw Bottas make some swift progress into fifth after starting P9, while Hamilton led Ferrari's Raikkonen in second and Red Bull's Max Verstappen in third.
Vettel sat third for much of the opening half of the race, and his head-to-head with Verstappen turned into a fiery affair—even appearing to bump tyres at one point—that played into Bottas' favour.
But Verstappen conceded a top-four spot to the German after Vettel's pit around lap 18 proved far more efficient than his own, leaving the duo in fifth and fourth, respectively.
Pit tactics came to play a heavy significance once again when Raikkonen had to slot back in behind Bottas following his own entry, and Channel 4's Karun Chandhok told of the pressure on the Finn's shoulders to retain a high position:
Channel 4 F1® @C4F1
Bottas is up to second as Raikkonen pits. "Bottas has to stretch this stint out for at least 8-10 laps" says Karun 🤓 #C4F1 #F1 https://t.co/xeScxOEOD52017-7-16 12:47:22
Hamilton's advantage of almost eight seconds allowed him to pit on lap 25—the race's halfway stage—but still retain a leading gap of three seconds or so over team-mate Bottas despite changing on to soft tyres.
Bottas finally pitted on lap 32 and rejoined in fourth behind the Ferrari pairing of Raikkonen and Vettel with Verstappen only a few seconds behind in fifth. Meanwhile, the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was gaining pace and moving up the places to challenge for a greater share of the points after starting way back in P19.
Further down the order, yet more 2017 engine issues meant McLaren star Fernando Alonso was forced to retire early, per Sky Sport F1 HD, a major disappointment considering he won Q1 and was showing signs of promise:
Sky Sport F1® HD @SkySportF1HD
"@alo_oficial box... no power" Blog 👉 https://t.co/TxdAGbHXB6 #BritishGP 🇬🇧 #SkyMotori https://t.co/ErnAQwYMvS2017-7-16 13:02:33
An enthralling battle ensued between Vettel and Bottas, the latter of whom finally made his play and overtook the German into third with eight laps remaining, although Raikkonen remained on leader Hamilton's tail.
The progress of Bottas was particularly pertinent to the championship landscape as Mercedes sought to strip Ferrari—and particularly standings leader Vettel—of as many points as possible.
Second-placed Raikkonen seared toward his maiden podium finish at the British Grand Prix but was hit by disaster when his front-left tyre gave out on the penultimate lap, allowing Bottas to move up from third as a result:
Formula 1 @F1
LAP 50/51 📻 RAI: "My left front tyre broke..." Heartbreak for Kimi, who was running in P2 #BritishGP 🇬🇧 https://t.co/NI7ycXupnh2017-7-16 13:26:21
And things quickly went from bad to worse as Vettel's own puncture on the same tyre saw him drop down to seventh from fourth following an unwanted second pit, a turn in events that spoiled Ferrari's mood in a major way.
If Hamilton is to win the 2017 Formula 1 crown, this will be seen as the ceucial moment his fortunes turned for the better, considering Vettel entered the British Grand Prix with a 20-point advantage.
Sunday's result means Vettel's lead at the top of the drivers' standings was cut down to just a single point following the 10th race of the year, while Verstappen and Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, capitalising on their peers' woes.
Drivers will return to action at the Hungarian Grand Pix in a fortnight's time, where Hamilton has his best chance of overtaking Vettel, whose Ferrari team will have questions on how Sunday's duel went so wrong.