Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton crowd-surfed his way into the record books after a fearless display ensured a hat-trick of consecutive victories at the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton controlled the rain-hit race to become the first driver to win at Silverstone on three straight occasions, and move to within just one point of Nico Rosberg after the championship leader was hit with a 10-second retrospective timed penalty.
Rosberg crossed the line second behind Hamilton, but was deemed to have been in breach of the sport’s strict radio rules after he sought advice for a gearbox problem in the closing stages of the race.
As such, he dropped to third with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen promoted to runner-up.
The verdict of the stewards –nearly four hours after the chequered flag fell in front of a record crowd – will no doubt come as a further boost to Hamilton, who ran down the podium steps after he was presented with the winners’ trophy, jumped on to the barrier, before falling back into the arms of his supporters.
It marked another iconic moment for Hamilton in a career where he is now just three wins short of his half-century.
“Apart from standing there on the podium holding the trophy up and the bottle, there’s no real way of connecting with the people,” Hamilton said.
“I put the trophy down, and I could see the crowd and I just wanted to connect with them in some way.
“As I got there I was like, I want to go over the top.
“I was hoping that I would crowd-surf further in and then I would have to say ‘take me back’ but I got right to the edge and I stayed there for like a second and then they pushed me back on, but it is very very cool to see the support here.
“It is just phenomenal.”
Hamilton led from first to last in a race which began behind the safety car following a deluge of rain just 15 minutes before the start. When the safety car finally pitted at the end of lap five, Hamilton established a lead of nearly four seconds in just one lap over Rosberg.
From there, he never looked back, and despite running off the road at turn one, he ultimately cruised to his fourth victory in five races. The championship momentum is now firmly back in his favour.
“I would definitely say today that I was never under threat from either of the guys behind,” Hamilton added.
“I already had a gap of six seconds so I never needed to do more or less.
“Every time they would post a time I would hear about it and I would turn it up a little bit or turn it down in terms of pace.”
Not for the first time this season, Hamilton’s championship rival Rosberg struggled in the changeable conditions. Indeed he spent much of the race in third after Verstappen pulled off a miraculous move around the outside of the German at Chapel.
When the track dried out, the dominance of Rosberg’s Mercedes package enabled him to catch and re-pass the 18-year-old, but his second place was later stripped following a lengthy stewards’ investigation.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in fourth with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fifth. Jenson Button’s Silverstone hoodoo continued as he come home a lowly 12th while British rookie Jolyon Palmer failed to finish with a gearbox failure.
“Firstly I am glad that the good English weather came out,” added Hamilton.
“All of a sudden it rained and it was so tricky in those conditions. Trying not to make a mistake was difficult for all of us, but that is what I love about this race.
“It is never plain sailing.
“That is why the British Grand Prix is the best grand prix we have.”
Rosberg, subjected to a chorus of pantomime boos on the podium, added: “Max got me and it was an exciting race against him. I managed to get him back around the outside which I was quite happy about.
“Congrats to Lewis. He did a great job this weekend. I couldn’t reach him.”