Hamilton joins exclusive club to slash Rosberg lead
Published 11/07/2016 | 02:30
Water strider, crowd surfer, history maker. Lewis Hamilton, the undisputed king of Silverstone, was more rock star than racing driver as he soaked up the adulation after another sublime drive on home soil.
Nigel Mansell greeted him just after the podium ceremony - and some rather less conventional celebrations took place - to toast Hamilton's third victory in a row here, his record-equalling fourth in total.
That is the sort of exalted company in which the reigning champion sits and is quickly moving beyond. Jim Clark, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart; these are all legendary names whose records Hamilton is rewriting at speed.
The closest he came to grief amid the typically British weather, other than nearly dropping the trophy he prizes so much, was hitting another Mercedes not driven by Rosberg: the safety car.
After that and one small wobble at Abbey, the most precarious manoeuvre he executed all afternoon was vaulting the barrier before launching himself into the crowd.
Sadly those below, some of the 139,000 who braved the early rain, did not quite match Hamilton's poise, shuffling him about briefly before he returned to the tell the world what it all meant.
"I don't know if you can be as happy as me," the three-time champion said after his 47th career victory.
"It's a very humbling experience. This is beyond my wildest dreams, honestly. It's very surreal to think that I'm here. I just saw Nigel in the corridor, and he said, 'welcome to the club'. It's that special. I'm incredibly proud."
For Rosberg, it was a day to forget as second place went to third after the stewards gave him a 10-second time penalty for breaking the sport's stringent radio rules when the engineers helped him solve a gearbox problem a few laps from the end.
His championship lead has all but evaporated, from 43 points five races ago to just one solitary point.
All the talk in the preamble had been of whether the Mercedes duo would crash again, after three collisions in five races. But Rosberg got nowhere near his team-mate, in qualifying trim, wet and dry.
The pair did not exchange a single word as they waited to receive the applause and spray champagne.
Unfortunately the safety car had a far bigger role in proceedings than many felt it should. Just 20 minutes before the start, the heavens opened. But as quickly as the rain fell, it soon abated. It left a soaked track with glorious sunshine above.
The call to start the race under the safety car came. Groan. Surely the best drivers in the world could manage? Hamilton was among those who thought so.
Most frustrating of all, it deprived us of what promised to be a chaotic start, slithering off the line on full wet tyres. Instead the safety car trundled around for five laps until they released Hamilton and the rest.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)