Lewis Hamilton romped to a fourth career British Grand Prix win at Silverstone, as team-mate Nico Rosberg faced a post-race investigation over radio messages delivered to him by Mercedes as the German battled late-race gearbox issues. Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull Racing.
Following a start under the Safety Car brought about by heavy rain in the build-up to the race, pole sitter Hamilton controlled matters from the front with apparent ease. When the safety car peeled away to allow racing to begin after five laps, a stream of cars headed towards pit lane to move from full wet Pirelli tyres to intermediate rubber but the lead four cars, of Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen and the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo stayed on track.
Hamilton pitted after seven laps, taking on intermediates and then after 17 laps the Mercedes driver moved to medium tyres, which he kept for the remainder of the race.
Aside from one incident where, like many drivers during the race, he was momentarily caught out by lingering damp conditions at Turn One and was forced off track, Hamilton controlled matters expertly to eventually claim a fourth British Grand Prix victory and to become the first man to claim three consecutive wins at Silverstone.
“I’m glad that the good English weather came out,” he said afterwards. “We went out and did the formation lap and it was dry and then all of a sudden it rained and it was so tricky in those conditions. It was drying pretty quickly but obviously when we started the race I was the first to really have to attack it. Trying not to make any mistakes was difficult for all of us.
“But that’s what I love about this race, because it’s never just plain, smooth sailing. There are always these things that just happen through the race that make it spectacular, that’s why the British Grand Prix is the best grand prix we have.”
Behind Hamilton, it was a more eventful race for second-place starter Rosberg. The championship leader held his starting position once the Safety Car left the track but he soon found himself under pressure from Verstappen and on lap 15 Rosberg was surprised by an audacious move from the Dutch teenager around the outside through the high-speed Becketts corner.
After taking on medium tyres, Rosberg then set about rectifying the situation and after shadowing the Red Bull driver for some 20 laps, he passed the Dutchman with a good move around thee outside at Stowe as Verstappen struggled with the rear tyre wear.
That should have cemented the title leader into second place but a handful of laps from home, he got on the radio to say that he was experience gearbox issues. He was told to make some setting changes and the exchange with his engineer quickly saw him placed under investigation for potentially contravening regulations governing the kind of assistance a driver can receive from his pit wall.
Despite Verstappen closing in, Rosberg managed to hold onto second place in the race and afterward said he was sure the instructions he received were legal.
“It was a very critical problem,” he said. “I was stuck in seventh gear and I was about to stop on track, so they told me ‘change default’ and try and fix it.”
With Verstappen taking his third podium finish of the season with third place, fourth place in the race went to the Dutch driver’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardio.
Ricciardo pitted for intermediate tyres as soon as the Safety Car left the track and emerged to find himself behind Force India’s Sergio Perez. The Australian spent some time bottled up behind the Mexican and when he eventually got past Ricciardo found himself 16.5s behind then third-placed Rosberg.
The Australian upped his pace to match Hamilton’s pace at one point but he could make no inroads on the gap to the leaders and he crossed the line almost 18 seconds behind his team-mate.
After being passed by Ricciardo, Perez clung on to fifth under heavy pressure from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. But seven laps from home Raikkonen found a way past and the Finn took fifth place ahead of the Mexican.
Seventh place went to Perez’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, with Carlos Sainz taking a useful eighth place for Toro Rosso.
Sebastian Vettel finished in ninth place after an eventful afternoon. The Ferrari driver was the first to take on slick tyres early in the race but soon after spun at Turn One and dropped down the field. He hauled his way back but then while attempting to pass Williams’ Felipe Massa for P8, Vettel outbraked himself and both he and Massa were forced off track.
The incident resulted in a five–second time penalty for Vettel but with Daniil Kvyat six seconds adrift, Vettel held ninth ahead of the Russian.
2016 British Grand Prix – Race
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 52 laps – 1h34m55.831s 2
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +6.911 2
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull +8.250 2
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +26.211 2
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +69.743 2
6 Sergio Perez Force India +76.941 2
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +77.712 2
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +85.858 2
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +91.654 2
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +92.600 2
11 Felipe Massa Williams +1 lap 3
12 Jenson Button McLaren +1 lap 2
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 lap 3
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 lap 2
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap 2
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas +1 lap 2
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault +3 laps 4
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault DNF 4
19 Rio Haryanto Manor DNF 2
20 Romain Grosjean Haas DNF 2
21 Marcus Ericsson Sauber DNF 3
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor DNF 1