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British GP: Vettel triumphs as Hamilton fights back from spin

Written by  Jul 09, 2018

Sebastian Vettel gave Mercedes a rare defeat at the British Grand Prix as he emerged the winner after an epic duel at Silverstone on Sunday.

The German took the lead at the start as pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was slow away and the decision to pit during the first of two rapid-fire Safety Car periods proved the right one as he passed a struggling Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps to claim a decisive win in the championship.

Hamilton's poor start was compounded when, after Bottas also went past at Abbey, Kimi Raikkonen tried a move into Village but would lock his brakes a tapped the Mercedes around, dropping the home favourite to the back of the field.

A number of relatively simple overtakes allowed the world champion to recover to sixth by Lap 12 as Raikkonen would be given a 10-second penalty for the incident.

The Finn was also involved in his own battles with the Red Bulls, passing Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of Copse on the opening lap before finally dispatching Max Verstappen in the late flurry of action after the second Safety Car.

At the front, Vettel pulled out a comfortable five-second margin over Bottas in the lead but it was the Mercedes that looked to have the edge on tyre life as the Ferrari pitted first. Sensing an opportunity, Valtteri pushed harder after switching to the Mediums and closed the gap before the race direction turned.

Hamilton stayed out some six laps later than the leaders before making his own pit-stop for the Mediums and set about trying to close up on the Red Bulls, however, that was when a big crash for Marcu Ericsson at Abbey required the first Safety Car with both Mercedes' staying out while the Ferrari's and Red Bull's pitted again for Softs.

When the race resumed, Raikkonen was still behind Verstappen and made a bold move down the inside of the Dutchman on the Wellington Straight, only for Max to hit straight back around the outside at Luffield and hold on through Copse.

Just behind, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean would make contact going through the same high-speed corner sending both into the barrier and necessitating the Safety Car for the second time.

A frantic final 11 laps were in store with Vettel still right behind Bottas, who had got ahead when Sebastian pitted, with Hamilton third.

At the restart, Raikkonen finally got past Verstappen on the approach to Stowe as Bottas thwarted a first attack by Vettel into Brooklands.

Ultimately, the Finn's tyres wouldn't last though, and a small slip in traction exiting the Loop allowed the Ferrari to dive down the inside at Brooklands again and this time re-inherit the lead he had held for much of the race.

A lap later, Hamilton made the same move on his teammate for second with Raikkonen knocking his fellow countryman off the podium two laps later.

Verstappen and Ricciardo would get close for P5, but a spin for Max approaching Vale allowed the Australian through before the 20-year-old later retired with a gearbox problem.

Though Ferrari power dominated the midfield in qualifying, an incident between the two Haas cars on the first lap dropped them down the order and Charles Leclerc would run well before having to retire with a loose wheel after his pit-stop.

That would allow Nico Hulkenberg to claim sixth for Renault ahead of Esteban Ocon in the Force India. Fernando Alonso made the most of the incidents around him to take P8 for McLaren as Kevin Magnussen recovered to ninth.

Pierre Gasly finished 10th on the road, but would be given a five-second penalty post-race for his robust move on Sergio Perez in the closing laps. That would drop the Frenchman down the 13th with the Mexican reclaiming the final point.

Stoffel Vandoorne would be 11th ahead of Lance Stroll with Sergey Sirotkin completing the finishers in 14th.

Following his suspension failure in practice on Saturday, it was a race against time to get Brendon Hartley's car ready for the race but ultimately the Kiwi would pull in after just two laps.

Back at the front, Vettel's victory gives the Ferrari driver an eight-point lead over Hamilton in the championship but after winning on the Briton's home turf at Silverstone, Lewis will now have the chance for payback in two weeks time as F1 returns to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix.

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