SILVERSTONE, England -- Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas to victory Sunday at an incredible British Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc stole the show with one of the best wheel-to-wheel battles in Formula One's recent history.
In a race packed full of drama across the field, Hamilton's win ended up being routine after the timing of a safety car period played into his hands and neutralised his fight with Bottas for the victory. The pair had gone wheel to wheel for the lead on Lap 4, with Hamilton briefly getting past at Luffield, before Bottas fought back brilliantly to reclaim the lead at Copse.
The prospect of a thrilling racelong fight ended when the safety car was deployed on Lap 19 to recover Antonio Giovinazzi's beached car from the gravel. At that point, Bottas had already stopped for tyres, while Hamilton was on the brink of coming into the pits. The timing of the safety car essentially gave Hamilton a free pit stop, allowing him to retain the lead of the race when he rejoined the track.
Bottas' strategy was torn apart as he had already stopped for a second set of mediums before the safety car, meaning he had to pit again later in the race to fulfill the obligation of using at least two tyre compounds in the race. Hamilton simply had to bring the car home to win the race, which he did to take a record sixth British Grand Prix victory.
But while the drama fizzled out at the front, it continued right until the closing stages lower down the order.
At times it was difficult to keep up with the fight taking place behind the two Mercedes drivers. Leclerc and Verstappen, who clashed while fighting for the lead at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago, resumed their battle in thrilling style. The pair went wheel to wheel on numerous occasions, including at a heart-stopping moment which saw Verstappen briefly go onto the grass down the Hangar Straight.
After being barged out of the way in Austria last time out, Leclerc seemed to be in no mood to let Verstappen dictate the tempo of the fight on this occasion and held firm on several occasions with some stern defensive driving.
The fight briefly continued after the safety car, when Leclerc briefly pushed his way past Verstappen at the final corner, only to lose the drag race down the main straight.
But the Ferrari driver had been hurt worst by the intervention of the safety car and he soon dropped down the order, only to be prompted back up to the final podium spot in the closing moments when teammate Vettel clumsily ploughed into the back of Verstappen's Red Bull. That relegated Verstappen down the order and sent Vettel to the back of the pack, where he remained until the chequered flag.
Pierre Gasly drove a solid race to fourth position, beating Verstappen on track for the first time this season; given how his season has gone so far, he won't mind the fact it happened only after Verstappen had been punted off the circuit by Vettel. Carlos Sainz continued his run of incredible Sunday performances to finish best of the rest ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo. Daniil Kvyat turned in a strong display for ninth position, while Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the points-paying positions in 10th.
Lando Norris appeared to lose out in the safety car shuffle and was heard complaining to McLaren that the strategy had ruined his race. He finished 11th, ahead of fellow rookie Alexander Albon. Racing Point's Lance Stroll was 13th, ahead of Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica; those two finished a lap down with Vettel, who ended a miserable weekend in 16th position.
Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen retired from the race early on after colliding on the opening lap. Grosjean slid into Magnussen when his teammate ran on his right-hand side at Turn 4 early on, giving both cars punctures which required early pit stops. The pair soon returned to the pit lane in the moments that followed to officially retire from the contest.