Lewis Hamilton masterclass proves he can take fight to Verstappen

The Mercedes star finally ended his long wait for a win at Silverstone and provided a reminder to his former title rival of his abilities

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Lewis Hamilton basked in the glory of his long-awaited victory at the British Grand Prix, celebrating in front of his home fans at Silverstone. And with it, Max Verstappen may have glanced across the podium with a sinking feeling that the Mercedes star is making his way back to the top of Formula 1.

It had been 946 days since Verstappen experienced that familiar feeling: that he can be beaten by Hamilton on a Formula 1 track. That’s how patient the Mercedes star has been forced to be before the 104th victory of his illustrious career finally arrived. But it was definitely worth the wait.

The outpouring of emotion, the hard-fought nature of the victory itself and a record Sunday crowd made it all the sweeter for the veteran racer. There is no denying it’s been a long slog for Hamilton, with sleepless nights, 18-hour days at the Brackley factory and coping with the abominations that were the W13 and W14 cars.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes race engineer Peter Bonnington celebrate on the 2024 British GP podium with Max Verstappen and McLaren's Lando Norris | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Race winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the 2024 British GP podium with Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

But on Sunday afternoon, he earned his place on the podium for the 150th time in the Silver Arrows overalls – and climbed onto the top step for the first time in 30 months.

He’d ventured close on several occasions. The best example was Brazil 2022, when he finished behind his team-mate George Russell, who had his days at Interlagos with his maiden F1 win. On every other occasion Hamilton came home in second that season, Verstappen was ahead of him. Then in 2023, he finished 0.179 of a second behind Verstappen at the Australian GP, and was runner-up to the Dutchman in Canada and Mexico too.

Hamilton Verstappen battle reignites at Silverstone

Hamilton has worn the look of an envious man while Verstappen claimed 41 victories in the last 59 races – somehow surpassing the level of domination he enjoyed for so long in the sport. But just maybe, the tide is finally turning in his and Mercedes‘ favour.

At Silverstone, Hamilton was sensational in every sense that a winner can be: he managed his tyres superbly, put the hammer down on his in-laps and made daring moves when necessary. Even when the rain came down and he had inferior grip to the McLarens, Hamilton didn’t panic.

Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and Max Verstappen 1 at the 2024 British GP | Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle for position at the 2024 British GP | Mercedes

He found the grippiest parts of the track, keep his car on the asphalt and bided his time until the Lap 40 stop, which changed the course of the race and potentially his season. Most would panic at the sight of seeing Verstappen 3.3 seconds down the road; Hamilton kept his cool, preserved his soft tyres and positioned the Dutchman at an arm’s length.

The pain of that infamous Abu Dhabi GP has kept him going after a draining championship battle with Verstappen in 2021. Both drivers gave it everything and proved they were a cut above the rest with some phenomenal battles. However, there is a consensus that Verstappen no longer has the superior car in the RB20, and if Hamilton continues to come for him at the front, there is no guarantee he can hold him off. Put them in the same machinery and he is quite simply the only other driver capable of matching him for pace.

Verstappen is already 145 points ahead of Hamilton in this the 2024 standings, which is likely to be unassailable. But there is nothing to suggest he won’t make life difficult for Verstappen as he bids to win a fourth drivers’ championship, especially if Hamilton prevents him from winning races like he did at Silverstone.

Mercedes threat cannot be ignored

Toto Wolff has been hinting for some time that their upgrades would bring a sizeable improvement in performance. With no bouncing issues, no straight-line speed fears, Mercedes are back in contention for podiums and more.

More importantly, Hamilton has rediscovered the hunger for wins after cutting a disconsolate figure at so many points this season. Few could blame him for wanting to join Ferrari 11 months earlier than planned, but he has always aimed to win a record eighth world title in Mercedes colours. That’s no secret.

Owing to Mercedes‘ troubles, Hamilton has been an irrelevant topic for Verstappen to discuss for some time. Silverstone showed that’s no longer the case, and the Red Bull driver – already looking over his shoulder at McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri – now needs to keep a watchful eye on Hamilton too.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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