5 July 2015
F1 British Grand Prix: Perfect pit-stop helps Hamilton repay Silverstone support
Lewis Hamilton hailed a perfectly-timed decision to pit for intermediates as he claimed a third British Grand Prix victory.
Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to a couple of clean – and well-timed – pit-stops for helping him give the massive British Grand Prix audience a home winner on a dramatic afternoon at Silverstone.
The Briton had qualified on pole position, but lost two places to wheelspin, as both Williams came through from row two. Although he quickly regained second spot, he lost out during an ambitious bid to jump Felipe Massa at the restart after a safety car and then had to bide his time before getting a chance to try again.
That opportunity came during the first round of pit-stops, where he emerged ahead of not only Valtteri Bottas but also Massa, giving him a lead he would not lose, although it appeared that Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg had a shot at victory as the British weather did its best to intervene.
Late race rain caused Hamilton to lose the performance from his front tyres but, just as it looked as though he was ceding the lead to make a second change of rubber, the real downpour arrived, making his choice of intermediates inspired.
“I think, overall, it was just great team work,” Hamilton admitted, even though those at Mercedes claimed it was the driver's call to stop when he did, “I could see the weather getting worse and worse, and you're thinking 'please hold off'. If it doesn't rain, it's all good; but if it does rain, it makes things a lot harder and, I tell you, this was one of the trickiest races I've had here. Obviously, 2008 was really hard, but this was still very, very tricky.
“I think I lost temperature in my front tyres – it's always trickier for the guy who is out in the lead as you're the first one to get to it and it's questionable how much risk you take. I think it's the first time in my whole F1 career that I made the perfectly right choice in terms of coming in, because I could see the rain coming more than it had before, so I feel extremely happy about that.”
The first stop was also carried out perfectly by Hamilton's crew, giving him the chance to capitalise on his pace immediately before and after to deliver him back into the lead.
“They were continuously speaking to me, the tyres were feeling good and I could have kept going for longer, but it was getting closer to the point where Williams had to stop,” he noted, “I was close enough as I came out of the last corner, and I told them I thought the tyres were going to go off, so they said 'box, box, box”. It was a really quick decision after that and I pushed like crazy on the out-lap, hooked up a really nice lap - to come back out in front was a great feeling!”
Throughout the weekend, Hamilton has been paying tribute to the support he has received from the crowds lining the circuit, and he was still magnanimous at the end of 52 laps…
“Thank you to everyone for coming out and making my weekend,” he enthused, “I was gunning the whole way [and] I'm so thankful for the support. I could see them every lap in the corner of my eye and just felt them spurring me along. I'm so elated – you can't imagine how happy I am. I started to tear up on that last lap, really hoping I could hold on to it. Now let's party!”
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