In the week when the very future of the British Grand Prix was thrown into doubt, who managed to nab the prize of Top British Bulldog at the revered Silverstone circuit?
So many contenders in what turned out to be an explosive race – literally in the case of the Ferrari front left tyres! There were some cracking drives up and down the field, full-on wheel bumping overtakes (cheers Max and Seb) and tenacious recovery drives from the likes of Bottas and Ricciardo. But the Top Dog Silverstone supremo has to be the history man himself…
Sometimes it’s about more than just the driving.
Don’t get me wrong, Lewis drove like a dream for the entire weekend. That’s pretty much become a given at his home race these past few years. Hamilton has now notched up four consecutive British Grand Prix victories, five in all – equaling the tallies of F1 legends Jim Clark and Alain Prost. That’s some pretty special company.
He bossed qualifying by half a second. Yep, you heard that right. Just two more pole positions and he will surpass the all-time record of Michael Schumacher. He led every lap, entertained us with some customary Hammertime whilst keeping his beady eye on the state of his tyres. Granted, he didn’t have to overtake anyone and was never seriously troubled by any of the cars behind. But that is precisely the kind of scenario where drivers can lose concentration and make a massive booboo. Not Lewis. Not at Silverstone. It means too much to him. Oh, he got the fastest lap too, in case you were wondering. Frankly, they should just give him the keys to the place.
Records and accolades are one thing and Hamilton has undoubtedly earned his place in the pantheon of British Grand Prix greats. But what wins him Top Dog honour for this race is his astonishing effort to engage with fans. In the days leading up to Silverstone, the media were stirring the doo-doo about Lewis’s no-show at the F1 Live event in London. Hamilton had to deflect a barrel load of criticism about his attitude to the sport, the fans, his team, his competitors, his country, Uncle Tom Cobley and all!
While some viewed Lewis missing such an important event as a colossal own goal, he believed he should prioritise some time out to prepare for his home race.
Who are we to argue? Especially when he wins so emphatically and gives so much back to the home fans. You can almost feel the love oozing out the TV screen as Lewis devotees clamour for selfies, autographs and high fives with their hero. He even made himself late for the obligatory press conference to spend a few more moments with spectators (much to the Ice Man’s delight!). Images of his crowd surfing antics have become iconic overnight. Rock star-like adoration is rare in this sport. Anyone who doubted Lewis’s dedication to his sport or to his supporters is probably pretty quiet right about now. Of course, he will always have his detractors – and sometimes their criticism is entirely justified.
But for now, we should marvel at Hamilton’s Silverstone performance on and off track. He even gets extra Badger points for his comedy slo-mo run to the top step of the podium!
The gap to Sebastian going into Hungary has been slashed to one single point. Nice work, Lewis – you thoroughly deserve your Top Dog award.
In a race packed with terrific drives, special mention goes to Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg. We have been deprived of seeing the Dutch boy wonder in the thick of the action for far too long. What a treat it was to see him driving like a demon once more, all the way to the chequered flag. His ‘round the outside’ pass on Vettel at Village corner was an absolute corker as was defensive driving masterclass through Stowe and Vale. Welcome back, Max. Hulkenberg was superb in qualifying and punched above his weight in the race to finish a well-earned 6th.
Halfway through the season already. Who will be premier pooch in Budapest? Follow Badger GP in two week’s time and all will be revealed.