Sebastian Vettel has extended his lead of the world championship after victory over Lewis Hamilton in a chaotic and controversial British GP.
On a dramatic afternoon at Silverstone, which featured two Safety Car deployments and countless track controversies, Hamilton finished second despite being hit by Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap.
It was the second time in three races in which a Ferrari car had tangled with a Mercedes at the start.
Hamilton opted against speaking immediately after the race but then said on the podium: “We will keep fighting. Interesting tactics from their side.”
Furious Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the spate of first-lap clashes were “either deliberate or incompetence.”
Valtteri Bottas led the race with five laps remaining but, running on old tyres after Mercedes opted against pitting the Finn behind the Safety Car, was overtaken on successive laps by Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen.
The Finn later admitted it was a mistake to stay out - one of several strategic errors Mercedes have made this season.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth after team-mate Max Verstappen spun into the gravel due to a brake-by-wire failure.
“We’ve won on their home ground,” Vettel said over team radio as he crossed the line with an eight-point lead of the championship.
How the drama unfolded off the line
A fast-starting Vettel had already taken the lead off pole-sitter Hamilton into the first corner before Raikkonen locked up and hit the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes into Turn Three.
The spin demoted the home favourite to the back of the grid before he launched a sustained and captivating surge through the field
Raikkonen was found guilty of causing the collision by the stewards and hit with a ten-second penalty.
“It was my mistake, so that’s fine,” said Raikkonen. “I deserve it, I took the 10 seconds and got fighting.”
Hamilton loses out before epic fightback
Mercedes had admitted before the race they were worried about Ferrari’s fast starts and Hamilton was immediately in trouble as his Mercedes became bogged down by wheelspin.
As Vettel, nursing a neck injury surged into the lead, Bottas also slipped past the Englishman before Raikkonen sent Hamilton spinning to the back of the field.
The Silverstone home favourite immediately reported car damage but, regularly lapping half a second quicker than race leader Vettel, Hamilton reached the top six by lap 11 and then ran long until lap 25 when he became the last of the frontrunners to pit.
Emerging 11 seconds behind Raikkonen, Hamilton had cut around five seconds out of the deficit when the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson crashed out on lap 33 to trigger the first of the two Safety Cars.
While both Red Bulls and Ferraris cars immediately pitted, Mercedes opted to keep their cars on track.
Committed to running to the end on slower medium tyres compared to the softs on the Ferraris and Red Bulls, Hamilton immediately queried the decision - although it had enabled him to leapfrog Ricciardo and Verstappen when they pitted.
No sooner had the race resumed than the Safety Car was redeployed after a collision between Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz sent the Haas and Renault cars into the barriers.
That left the stage set for an epic ten-lap shootout to the line between Vettel, Bottas, Hamilton and Raikkonen while Ricciardo chased down Verstappen.
After some bare-knuckle wheel-to-wheel action between the lead Mercedes and Ferrari, Vettel finally found a way through Bottas’ defences at Brooklands with five laps to go.
His ageing medium tyres running out of life, Bottas was then immediately swallowed up by Hamilton and Raikkonen before crossing the line just a second ahead of Ricciardo.