Hamilton wins British GP, but reliability will decide the title
Briton back in contention after error in qualifying as Rosberg retires for first time
Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday as his Mercedes team-mate and main title rival Nico Rosberg was forced to retire with gearbox problems.
Hamilton's triumph in front of his home crowd was described by Sky Sports as "arguably one of the most important – and popular – wins of his career" and cuts Rosberg's lead to just four points. It was the first time Rosberg has failed to finish a race this season and gives Hamilton renewed hope of catching him in a campaign that has been dominated by Mercedes.
The result certainly made amends for Hamilton's crass error in qualifying on Saturday, when he aborted his final timed lap because of rain, only to see five drivers beat his time. But starting from sixth on the grid the Briton attacked and had moved up to second within four laps and was gaining on Rosberg when the German was forced out of the race.
From then on Hamilton was utterly dominant, and he finished 30 seconds clear of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
"In terms of the race itself, we were denied a wheel-to-wheel battle with Nico Rosberg, but given Lewis has already had two non-finishes this year, no one would say it was unfair," says David Coulthard in the Daily Telegraph. "With reliability being the way it is this year, under the new regulations, it is clear retirements are going to have an enormous impact."
He adds that Hamilton's reaction to the events on Saturday showed a maturity and confidence that bodes well for the rest of the campaign.
Writing in the same paper Daniel Johnson agrees that reliability is now key. A Mercedes has not finished a race outside the top two this season. "What this shows is that finishing races – when you are effectively guaranteed a position no worse than second – is far more important than winning them. Hamilton went into this weekend 29 points behind, with things seemingly getting a bit desperate. One retirement for Rosberg, and he is right back in it."
He adds that victory does not absolve Hamilton's error in qualifying. "We can all laud him for his speed, and his genius, and in many ways we should. However, he is not going to beat a highly intelligent, highly motivated Rosberg this year if he continues to make decisions like the one to abandon his lap in qualifying on Saturday."
But the result should be celebrated as it cements Hamilton's "unique place as a British winner in a summer season of sport that has produced a catalogue of failure, from football to cricket and tennis," notes The Times.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is said to be "OK" after a major crash at the start of the race, which saw him hit a wall at 150mph after running wide on the first lap. He suffered an impact of 47G when he hit the wall, but escaped with nothing more serious than bruised legs.