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Lewis Hamilton wins British Grand Prix and says he thought it was never going to happen again

Hamilton triumphed in a race that ebbed and flowed, from a dry start, through two periods of wet weather into a dry finish, and in which the winner was in doubt until the very end.

Hamilton had qualified second to team-mate George Russell and they ran that way through the early laps.

The McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri came to the fore in the wet middle period, only to fumble their pit strategy, and hand the win to Hamilton at the final pit stops, when Verstappen also came back into the frame after an unusually uncompetitive race for him was turned by Red Bull’s final tyre choice.

Verstappen charged by Norris to take second, and then chased down Hamilton, who held on to win by just over a second.

In the dry early phase, the Mercedes were clearly the fastest cars on track, and Hamilton managed his soft tyres in the closing laps expertly, while Norris’ fell off badly.

It was confirmation that Mercedes really are finally back in the battle at the front after a long, trying period.

It has happened so quickly. As Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff put it: “Five races ago, we weren’t contenders for the podium and it looked like we were in the third year of non-performance, and then it clicked.”

The “click” moment, Wolff said, was largely down to the input of James Allison, who was reinstalled as Mercedes technical director in the spring of last year when Mercedes realised they had messed up their car for the second year in succession.

“There was a moment where, led by James, suddenly the data made sense,” Wolff said. “The way we made it, the way we balanced the car. And how we could bring it in a better sweet spot. That was the main thing. It wasn’t a miracle front wing, it was more the balance we achieved.”

For his part, Allison explains the transition as one of culture inside the team.

He says it took Mercedes too long to realise that the rules introduced in 2022 “require a different set of skills and a different way of interacting with each other”.

The various departments that define the design and performance of the car, Allison says, need to work much more closely together than under the previous set of rules, under which Mercedes were so successful.

“The car,” he says, “is just the outcome of the institutional approach to designing a car. Everything about being competitive is about valuing the right things, putting resource onto the right things and then pursuing those right things with vigour. The car just pops out at the end as a consequence of that.”

Having realised what was important in making the car fast, and made the appropriate organisational changes, Mercedes have made remarkable progress.

“Suddenly,” Wolff said, “everything that didn’t make sense, made sense and the results of the development direction is back in the old days.”

They have been on pole at two of the last four races. Russell, who retired at Silverstone with a water leak, won in Austria a week ago, inheriting the lead when Verstappen and Norris collided and damaged their cars.

At Silverstone, the Mercedes qualified one-two and were the fastest cars in the race, except when the track was wet, and even then the swing in performance was down to McLaren running more downforce.

Hamilton said: “There’s still a long, long way to go, but we are super close, and I think hopefully with the next upgrade perhaps, we will be in an even stronger position to really, really be fighting for the front row more consistently.”

The next upgrade will come at the next race in Hungary, another of Hamilton’s favourite tracks, with another to follow in Belgium a week later.

“We are finding performance and we are putting it on the car,” Wolff said. “And it translates into lap time and that wasn’t the case for the last two years.

“There is more to come in terms of performance. We are bringing updates to Budapest and Spa but on the other side we mustn’t get carried away. We had a win last week benefiting from (Verstappen and Norris) tangling but today we have an honest win.

“We had the real pace. You could see George and Lewis in the lead and almost under all conditions we were there.”

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