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Hamilton salutes Mercedes after ‘perfect weekend’

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win on the podium in Silverstone July 16, 2017. — Reuters picMercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win on the podium in Silverstone July 16, 2017. — Reuters picSILVERSTONE (United Kingdom), July 17 — Lewis Hamilton saluted his champion Mercedes team on Sunday for producing a “perfect weekend” as he reeled off his fourth consecutive victory in the British Grand Prix.

The three-time world champion dominated from pole to equal fellow-Briton Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost as a five-time winner of the British race.

It was the 57th win of his career and it came as Mercedes delivered a perfect one-two finish, his team-mate Valtter Bottas following him home after starting ninth on the grid.

“I was very, very fortunate firstly that the team did an exceptional job this weekend,” he told reporters after a delay for him to ‘crowd surf’ with his fans in a packed sold out crowd at Silverstone. 

“The car felt really great.”

“I’m so proud of everyone at the factory. Valtteri did an exceptional job coming back from all that way down… It has been a perfect weekend for us as a team.”

Hamilton’s excellence after starting from his 67th career pole enabled him to take full advantage of the misfortunes that hit championship leader Sebastian Vettel. 

Both the German and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had punctures in the closing laps, Vettel’s costing him a probable podium and leaving him to finish seventh.

The outcome was that Vettel’s lead in the championship was cut to one point. He leads with with 177 ahead of Hamilton on 176 with Bottas third on 154 after ten of this year’s 20 races.

“I got a good start and then, after that, I was really able to manage the gap to Kimi,” explained Hamilton. 

“We were planning on stopping on Lap 19 or something like that so I was able to extend it by quite a bit. 

“And then at the end I had a decent gap so it was just about managing it all, a 12-14 second gap to Kimi. I could see on those TV screens at a few places around the track, I got to see a bit of the race.”

Blowouts

Both Hamilton and Bottas managed their tyres efficiently on the demanding high-speed circuit, but Ferrari, having opted for an aggressive and risky strategy, were caught out.

“I heard at the end that there were some tyre blowouts,” said the Englishman. 

“I had some graining and some vibration on mine, so the last couple of laps I took it easy as I knew the others had trouble. 

“I could have kept going, I felt like I could keep going. I think we had the legs this weekend.”

Hamilton made a point of not only changing his racing suit to jump into the crowd, but also dedicating his win a group of children and friends he had invited to the race.

These included children from the Starlight charity for terminally-ill children, from Great Ormond Street Hospital and Billy Monger, a junior British racing driver who lost his lower legs in April this year in an accident.

Raikkonen was third for Ferrari, after the Italian team had made a strategic gamble on their tyres strategy, ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who had started 19th on the grid.

Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault ahead of four-time champion Vettel, Esteban Ocon and his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa, who came home 10th for Williams.

Bottas said: “I am really happy for this today. It was not easy, with so many cars to get through, but the team did a perfect strategy. I just kept my head down and we managed it.”

Raikkonen said he was disappointed with his misfortunes, but Vettel said he did not blame the team. 

“It’s just one of those things,” he said. — AFP

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