Lewis Hamilton hung on to take fourth today in front of his home fans at the F1 2011 British Grand Prix.
Hamilton had looked to be on course to get on the rostrum, but had to switch to fuel saving mode in the closing stages, something that left him powerless to hold off Mark Webber – and almost Felipe Massa too.
However on the final lap he was given the okay to return to full-speed and while the Brazilian tried to take him at Vale, Hamilton left his braking as late as possible and while there was contact, with the McLaren finishing without part of its front wing, he emerged fractionally ahead as they exited Club and crossed the start-finish line for the final time.
“Before the end, I had to start saving fuel: you have to lift and coast, which means the brake temperatures drop. So I had no brakes, and that's why I kept locking up,” Hamilton recalled. “That allowed Mark to slip ahead of me and meant I was defending from Felipe in the closing laps.
“On the final lap, the team gave me the order to push as hard as I could, but Felipe had already closed the gap by that point, so it was difficult to defend.
“That last lap was as close as it's ever going to get! In the final corner I stayed on the inside and braked as hard as I could. Fortunately, we both got around the corner in one piece and I just pipped him at the finish.
“The support I had when I crossed the line was as if I'd won the race – so I want to say a huge thank-you to everyone. In fact, the fans have been amazing all weekend: I've never seen so many people at Silverstone, and I could feel them all spurring me on.
“I think this was one of the best British Grand's Prix of all time, and I'm already looking forward to coming back again next year!”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile was impressed with what he labelled as Hamilton's 'indefatigable competitiveness'.
“Lewis delivered a very strong performance. We'd expected him to encounter more traffic in the first part of the race than he actually did – and, as a result, he used more fuel early on than we'd anticipated he would,” Whitmarsh explained.
“That being the case, we had to ask him to drive with fuel conservation in mind in the final laps – which meant that he was forced to slow his pace and thereby allow Mark to pass and let Felipe catch up.
“The last lap of the race must have made for wonderful viewing for trackside spectators and TV audiences alike – and the fact that Lewis was able to cling on to fourth place ahead of Felipe, and score twelve valuable world championship points as a result, is I think a testament to his indefatigable competitiveness,” Whitmarsh concluded.