How Lewis Hamilton Won an Emotional, Record-Breaking Ninth F1 British GP

From changeable U.K. weather to rival mistakes, here's how Hamilton won his 104th race after 945 days without a victory.
Jakub Porzycki

Formula 1 is back. Six different drivers have taken victory in the first 12 races of the season: Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr., George Russell, and now, in stunning fashion, Lewis Hamilton. If Red Bull Racing wasn’t already quaking in its boots, it should be right about now.

You read that last name right: After 945 long days, Hamilton crossed the finish line first at the British Grand Prix, taking his 104th win overall and a record-breaking ninth victory at Silverstone—the most wins for a driver at any one circuit. But if you’d asked Hamilton about his chances at winning a race in 2024 just last month, he’d have told you that he wasn’t focusing on wins, just on improving his Mercedes W15 to make it the best car it could be before he departs for Ferrari in 2025.

So, what happened? What changed? How did Lewis Hamilton win the 2024 British Grand Prix? Let’s dig in and find out.

Factor 1: Weather and Strategy

Let’s make one thing clear: on pace, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was the most consistently quick at the British Grand Prix. The McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri had a pace advantage in wet conditions, but Hamilton was quick enough to win without many of the factors listed in this story. Hamilton managed a great race—and part of that came down to weather.

The Mercedes package seems to favor colder temperatures (which is something we’ll expand on in a moment), while the on-again off-again rain throughout the Grand Prix favored drivers with both experience managing changeable conditions and making strategy calls during challenging events.

While the crews of drivers like Esteban Ocon and Leclerc took risks with their calls to swap from slick to intermediate tires, Hamilton and Mercedes had no such issue. Yes, the Mercedes team was one of the first to swap from intermediates to soft tires after the rain let up—but it was Hamilton who nursed those tires to the end while other soft-tire shod competitors struggled with degradation (I’m looking at you, Lando).

It was a masterclass in responding to flexible conditions at just the right time while also fielding a driver capable of making changes on the fly.

Factor 2: Rival Mistakes

Also key to Hamilton’s victory was the simple fact that his closest competitors in the race just kind of… fell apart.

At the start of the British Grand Prix, Verstappen struggled to hold track position, allowing both McLarens to fly past him without a fight in the event’s early stages. Rain and a final set of hard tires turned the tides for Verstappen, but without the opportunity to build an insurmountable lead at the start, Verstappen lost out on his chance at challenging Hamilton for a victory at the end of the race.

Norris was perhaps Hamilton’s other biggest threat, with the McLaren racer coming into fine form in 2024. But after a poor standing start, a poorly timed pit stop for the quickly degrading soft tires, and a pit stop where he missed his box completely, Norris had nothing to give in the final laps of the race.

As far as the other competition, well—Hamilton’s teammate Russell retired with a water system issue, Piastri was forced to play catch-up after his team waited one lap too long to swap him from intermediate to soft tires, and the Ferraris were simply a non-factor.

Getty Jakub Porzycki

Factor 3: Mercedes’ Upgrades and Construction

Speaking to media after the race, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted that the Mercedes car “has always been strong in the cooler conditions” and that the team “looked to have things pretty much in control” while Red Bull and McLaren struggled.

Toto Wolff, team boss of Mercedes, said, “We were really controlling the pace at the beginning, and it was very encouraging. Then it started to rain, and you could see the massive performance at McLaren. They were simply in the sweet spot of the tire.”

Andrea Stella of McLaren, meanwhile, mused, “There’s this narrative around that McLaren has the best car, but I think we make good use of it, right?” 

To put it simply, Mercedes had a damn good car, and the team put it to good use in the British Grand Prix.

In mid-May, Mercedes brought a slew of upgrades to Imola, including a revised floor, revised brake ducts, a new rear wing, and a new beam wing. The whole goal was to push the development of the W15 in a new direction after Mercedes’ gamble on the “zero sidepod” concept failed to deliver.

It took a few races for those upgrades to become refined enough to really make a difference, but the team has been crawling ever upward since that debut, securing its first podiums and wins of 2024. Whatever Mercedes changed, it finally started to work.

The team also intends to bring comprehensive upgrades before F1’s summer break; the hope is that they’ll continue to build on what the team has already developed and set Mercedes up well for a strong second half of 2024.

Factor 4: Plain Ol’ Experience

What’s one thing that Hamilton has that his rivals in the British Grand Prix didn’t? Experience. Plain and simple.

Of all the drivers competing at the front of the field this year, Hamilton has the most experience at Silverstone, in general—and he also knows exactly how to win this race. He’s done it more than anyone else, after all.

But perhaps beyond all else, Hamilton has been clear that he hopes his final year with Mercedes will be a good one. The start of the season hadn’t been kind to the British driver, leaving him telling the media that, though he’d love a win, he didn’t expect one any time soon.

“I think just having consistency and seeing if we can put the team further up in the points… [has] got to be the target,” he said after securing his first podium of the year in Spain. “Let’s just try and have more consistent weekends like this, and then we’ll see.”

Yes, consistency is nice—but there would perhaps be no better way to round out his ultra-successful career with Mercedes than by taking home a win. In typical Hamilton fashion, he took it just one step further, taking victory at his home race.

“The feeling, it feels different to previous races, and particularly races where you’re having race after race after race, or seasons where you’re having multiple wins,” Hamilton said, reflecting on his British Grand Prix. “I think with the adversity we’ve gone through as a team, and that I personally felt that I’ve experienced, those challenges, the constant challenge like we all have to get up out of bed every day and give it our best shot.

“There are so many times when you feel like your best shot is not good enough, and the disappointment sometimes that you can feel.

“There’s definitely been moments where the thought that this was it, that it was never going to happen again. So to have this feeling coming across the line, I think honestly, I’ve never cried coming from a win. It just came out of me. It’s a really, really great feeling. I’m very, very grateful for it.”

Whether or not Mercedes will maintain this pace for the rest of the season remains to be seen—but if Hamilton’s win at the 2024 British Grand Prix is the Brackley team’s final win of the season, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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