Lewis Hamilton wins British Grand Prix - but why the safety car?
An easy win for Mercedes driver leaves him just one point behind Nico Rosberg after radio and safety car confusion
Lewis Hamilton is just one point behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the F1 race after winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in emphatic fashion, while his German rival was demoted to third for breaching new radio regulations.
Hamilton, who was 43 points behind Rosberg earlier in the season, cruised to victory in his home Grand Prix for the third year running to equal Nigel Mansell's record of four wins on home soil.
He celebrated in typically unorthodox style with a spot of crowd surfing but, as Daniel Johnson of the Daily Telegraph notes, "this was perhaps the most anonymous victory in the British Grand Prix by a British driver. Hamilton made the right tyre calls, eased ahead when required, and was barely seen for most of the afternoon."
If Hamilton's victory was regulation there were other aspects of the race that provoked controversy, not least the decision to start with a safety car as rain fell at Silverstone.
"As the world champion multi-celebrated his victory at the British Grand Prix, he still had time to scratch his head about the question that was vexing us all — the one that went to the heart of motor racing," says Jonathan McEvoy of the Daily Mail. "Why on earth did the race start under a safety car?
"Hamilton was of the view that the greatest 22 drivers on the planet, mostly handsomely rewarded, should be able to handle a rain shower without the nanny-ish intervention of officialdom."
It was "a turgid way to start the nation's premier motor race", agrees Kevin Eason of The Times. "Five laps of a procession so slow that Hamilton almost crashed into the safety car."
Victory only emphasised the momentum Hamilton now has midway through the F1 season with Rosberg's 43-point lead in the title race now a distant memory.
"My, how things have changed," says Eason. "Rosberg, cocky and confident just a few weeks ago, sulked in the waiting room for the podium ceremony, barely exchanging glances with his team-mate... It got worse: an astonishing three hours after the race, the race stewards penalised Rosberg ten seconds for illegal radio chatter."
The punishment demoted him from second to third place and stripped him of three points, to leave Hamilton only one behind.
The new radio rules, which ban teams from helping drivers, have caused controversy this season and Andrew Benson of the BBC notes: "Both Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff and his opposite number at Red Bull, Christian Horner, [have] questioned the need for the rules restricting driver assistance."
Rosberg was penalised after he became stuck in seventh gear. He was allowed to be given help resetting his car, but his race engineers overstepped the mark by telling the German that he should avoid seventh gear and, in response to a specific question from the driver, click through it to use eighth gear as normal.