It may have been a celebrity-packed paddock at Silverstone for a rain-lashed British Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton proved to be undoubtedly the biggest star of them all by thoroughly trouncing every one of his rivals to triumph in front of his home fans and launch himself right back into title contention.
Describing the success as probably his greatest-ever victory, it was difficult to argue as the Stevenage-born ace answered all of his critics with aplomb to cap a flawless performance by grabbing a share of the world championship lead – and with not a trace of scarlet in sight up on the podium afterwards on a bleak, error-strewn day for the Scuderia
, it made it overall for the Briton just the perfect race.
With the track still very wet but the sun trying to break through, the dilemma before the start was whether to risk wet weather rubber or intermediates, with Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes both looking particularly twitchy on the latter on the way around to the grid, but front row starters Heikki Kovalainen and Mark Webber seeming to suggest inters could well be the better choice.
Indeed, all drivers ultimately plumped for the hybrid option, and the predicted chaos subsequently ensued. Whilst Kovalainen made a good start, Hamilton's was better still, as the Briton and fellow second row starter Raikkonen went either side of Webber's slow-starting Red Bull Racing.
Indeed, so good was Hamilton's getaway that he even got a run on his team-mate into Copse, and only Kovalainen holding on bravely around the outside – the two Silver Arrows even coming close to touching wheels as both cars twitched in unison on the slippery surface – prevented the home hero from sensationally shooting by into the lead.
Behind them, Red Bull's dream Saturday was fast turning into a nightmare Sunday, as having already dropped back to fourth place, Webber then spun on the Hangar Straight, falling down to 18th in the process. Team-mate David Coulthard, meanwhile, brought a premature end to his final British Grand Prix, as the experienced Scot and Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Sebastian Vettel – ironically, the man most believe will take the 37-year-old's place at RBR next year – indulged in some synchronised spinning in the stadium section, both ending their races beached firmly in the gravel trap on the opening lap.
Webber was joined at the rear of the field by world championship leader Felipe Massa – who spun an extraordinary three times over the course of the first few laps – and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, another early spinner, whilst significantly further up the order Renault's Fernando Alonso got back past rookie team-mate Nelsinho Piquet, who had overtaken him at the start, for fifth place.
Though Kovalainen's advantage at the end of lap one had been 1.3 seconds, Hamilton was pushing extremely hard behind, with the pair of them and third-placed Raikkonen streaking away from the chasing pack. That was led by Nick Heidfeld – who would soon be displaced by a charging Alonso – Piquet, an impressively fast-starting Jarno Trulli up seven spots in his Toyota and BMW-Sauber star Robert Kubica.
With the gap being reduced to just four tenths of a second at the front, though, Hamilton was not to be denied, delighting the partisan crowd by diving courageously past Kovalainen up the inside into Stowe Corner on lap five after almost finding a way by along the start-finish straight a couple of tours earlier. By the end of that lap alone, the 23-year-old had already pulled 1.8 seconds clear, and he would increase that advantage to an astonishing 4.2 seconds a lap later still.