It looked like it was all over before it had even begun. As Lewis Hamilton lined up 6th on the grid at the 50th British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone, my dad and I settled into our seats at Copse Corner for what would undoubtedly be an exciting race, but one that was unlikely to produce the result all of us in the packed, cheering crowd so desperately wished for.
As the cars passed us for the first time, it was Jenson Button in his underperforming McLaren moving from 3rd into an almost unbelievable 2nd that fuelled our optimism. However, this was soon to be replaced by frustration after Kimi Raikkonen’s spectacular (but thankfully harmless) crash after just one lap meant the driver’s may have had to restart in their original positions. Fortunately, a safety car restart (more exciting than it sounds thanks to the bellowing V8 of the Mercedes SLS AMG) meant common sense prevailed.
As the race progressed, Hamilton didn’t give up and neither did any of us at Copse, cheering and clapping every time he passed. He was in 4th after the restart and quickly charged up the field into 2nd place. His superior Mercedes left my dad and I shocked. The gap between Hamilton going out of view and 2009 champion Button appearing at the far end of the old pits straight became an agonizing, seemingly endless void (by the end of the race, the gap was over 47 seconds).
From then on, Hamilton was catching teammate and race leader Nico Rosberg every lap. His passion, determination and raw speed left us all with one question in mind: could he actually win? No-one around us dared utter those words and jinx him – Hamilton has suffered from an unhealthy dose of bad luck already this year. Then, suddenly, Rosberg came crawling past Copse. “He’s broken down,” said dad, and those words rippled through the crowds like the Mexican waves during the early delay. All Hamilton had to do was ease his car home. He went on to win the race by an astonishing 30 seconds, re-igniting his World Championship dreams.
For us at Copse, overtake of the day went to Sebastian Vettel, who passed Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso right in front of us by out-braking him from 180 mph, the two rivals barely centimetres from each other’s tyres.
Despite Hamilton’s win, Jenson Button showed immense character to put in what must have been the drive of the day. In an emotional race where he wore a bright pink helmet in memory of his father, who recently passed away, Button battled relentlessly to pass Daniel Ricciardo for 3rd, whilst also trying to save fuel! Missing out by only 0.8 seconds, his performance inspired us all into a standing ovation almost as powerful as the roar from the crowd when Hamilton cruised past for the final time.
This year’s British Grand Prix once again confirmed in everyone’s minds why Formula 1 would never be complete without Silverstone.