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Hamilton cuts Vettel title lead

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 16/07/2017 skysports.com

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Lewis Hamilton has cut Sebastian Vettel's title lead to just one point at the halfway stage of the F1 season with a dominant, record-equalling fifth British GP victory.

Vettel was only seventh after an incredible end at Silverstone saw both Ferraris pick up punctures and make emergency pit stops with one lap to go.

Kimi Raikkonen had been on course for second and Vettel fourth, but their unplanned late stops promoted Valtteri Bottas from third to second and gifted Mercedes an unexpected one-two.

Raikkonen salvaged third, just his third podium of the year, but Vettel lost three places and as a result his season-long championship lead over Hamilton has been all-but wiped out.

Having started the race 20 points back on Vettel, Hamilton's now-one point deficit is the closest the rivals have been in the standings since the second round of the season.

Bottas's second place means he closes to within 23 points of the summit with 10 races to go.

Despite also pitting with two laps to go with a puncture, Max Verstappen took fourth for his first finish since May, while Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo thrilled the Silverstone crowd with a stirring drive from the back row to fifth.

Sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg capped a fine weekend with Renault's best result since their return to F1 team ownership last year.

Hamilton's British GP week had begun with heavy criticism from the media about his absence from F1's London street demonstration, but the triple world champion appeared the quickest driver around his home circuit all weekend.

After recording the most dominant pole of the season so far on Saturday, Hamilton was never headed at the front on Sunday to equal the great Jim Clark's 40-year-old record of five British GP victories. Alain Prost also equalled the mark in 1993.

Hamilton also ties Clark as the only drivers to win the British GP four years in succession.

"That's a feeling I can't really describe," said a jubilant Hamilton, who again engaged in celebratory crowdsurfing with the fans on the Silverstone pit straight. "It feels amazing to be up here. I'm so proud to see these great flags everywhere. The support this weekend has been immense. I'm really proud I could do this for you all.

"The team were faultless this weekend, Valtteri did an incredible job as well so it's the perfect weekend for us. There's a long, long way to go [in the championship]."

Ferrari pain increases Mercedes gainWith Hamilton driving serenely all race up front, and Bottas recovering strongly from his grid penalty to overtake Vettel for third, the late drama that engulfed Ferrari represented an extra unexpected fillip for Mercedes at the Brackley team's home race.

The sudden nature of the tyres failure on the two Ferrari cars proved both costly and, in the initial aftermath of the race, confusing.

"I don't think anyone is to blame in hindsight [for the puncture]," Vettel told Sky F1. "At the time it felt OK. Kimi had a similar issue and his tyres were at least five, six laps fresher. It caught us both by surprise."

Raikkonen, who appeared particularly crestfallen after a strong race, said: "I didn't hit anything. "I don't know what happened. I was lucky [to still be third] and l was unlucky."

Vettel's chances of winning at Silverstone for the first time in eight years had already been effectively scuppered when he slipped behind Verstappen's Red Bull on the first lap.

The pair later went wheel-to-wheel on successive laps from Stowe to the Vale chicane, with Ferrari and Red Bull running off the circuit as both drivers complained the other had pushed them off.

Ferrari eventually got Vettel ahead by stopping him for tyres a lap earlier, but the German was unable to catch Raikkonen and was instead eventually overtaken by the flying Bottas.

"[The weekend] could have been a little bit better, for sure, but disaster? I don't think so," insisted Vettel.

"We had a good car, especially in the corners, the balance was alright. In the race, the brakes caught fire from the start and from then it was a difficult race."

British Grand Prix result1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, +14.0633. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +36.5704. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +52.1255. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +65.9556. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +68.1097. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +93.9898. Esteban Ocon, Force India, +1 lap9. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1 lap10. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1 lap11. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +1 lap12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +1 lap14. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +1 lap16. Lance Stroll, Williams, +1 lap17. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, +1 lap

DNF Fernando Alonso, McLarenDNF Carlos Sainz, Toro RossoDNS Jolyon Palmer, Renault

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