Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claimed his first victory of the F1 2024 season in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Hamilton‘s record-extending 104th career triumph – and his ninth at his home race – ended a two-and-a-half year wait for a victory. He was joined on the podium by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in second and Lando Norris of McLaren, who finished third. Here are our conclusions from Silverstone…

Conclusions from the 2024 British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton rises again: A reward for refusing to ever give up

As he crossed the line to win at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton could finally let it all out.

It had been a long, long time since his last victory and, by his own admission, there have been moments since that night in Saudi Arabia on December 5 2021 – and what followed seven days later – when he has wondered if he would ever win again in Formula 1.

Had he savoured it enough at the time? That’s what all the great athletes ask themselves when things suddenly and unexpectedly get tough.

Did he appreciate just how fortunate he had been during his dominant years with Mercedes? Or to stand as the only driver in F1 history to win a race in every single season for the first 15 years of his career?

If he had ever dared to take his success for granted before, he sure as hell won’t now.

Those tears, all those tears, inside his helmet on the cooldown lap provided confirmation that Hamilton’s post-2022 experience has humbled him.

He has often cut a diminished, damaged figure over the last two-and-a-half years, the open wounds of Abu Dhabi 2021 salted by the worst collection of cars he had experienced in his entire career, cruelly denying him any chance of striking back.

After all the success he had been accustomed to for so long, lesser souls than Hamilton would have allowed their frustration to spill over – allowed their standards and professional pride to drop, allowed their hope and motivation to slowly fade away – in the face of that crushing new reality.

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He has had the power to make life difficult – really difficult, far more difficult than it needed to be – for Mercedes since the start of that 2022 season.

Yet aside from a brief moan in the immediate aftermath of a particularly punishing Friday practice session, not once has Hamilton complained or tried to distance himself from the situation in which the team found themselves.

Still he has continued to train hard, perhaps harder than ever before on those chilly early mornings as the rest of the world sleeps, in order to keep up with F1’s latest emerging talents as his fifth decade on this earth nears.

And still he has continued to drive Mercedes forward – maintaining his optimism to the point of sometimes seeing positives even where there were none – even if his move to Ferrari, announced earlier this year, revealed that his patience did indeed have a limit.

In the unusual situation of going through a full season in the knowledge that he will part ways with the team at the end of 2024, Hamilton was presented with the perfect excuse this year to coast through to the conclusion of his Mercedes career, to see the team’s early struggles with the W15 as someone else’s problem.

Yet even with the finish line in sight – and in a measure of the depth of his affection for the team – he has remained utterly resolute in his determination to deliver a happy ending one way or another, committed to developing the car into a better place for a future he will not be part of and convinced that one race might still fall his and Mercedes’ way before it all had to end.

How we should have known that race would be at Silverstone, the scene of so many highlights across his career and in the changeable conditions in which his natural touch and feel for a racing car has forever come to the fore.

It was a Lewis Hamilton race in Lewis Hamilton conditions at a Lewis Hamilton circuit.

And this?

This is not merely another win to add to all those to have come before – how can it be after all this time? – but a reward for his refusal to ever, ever give up hope that one day he may observe the view from the top step of a grand prix podium again.

Not just looking this time, but seeing. Bottling that feeling, soaking up that sight, those sounds, those emotions.

Cherishing everything. Because who is to know when he will be here next?

It is not often in sport that the hero lands on his feet and for some time it seemed Hamilton would be denied the ending at Mercedes he so dearly craved.

But at Silverstone? With that gold trophy in his hands and a British flag draped over him like a cape?

If this is to be the final glorious snapshot of his time with Mercedes, it looked just right.

Lando Norris and McLaren keep grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory

So how are Lando Norris and McLaren going to conspire to lose the win this week?

Hands up: cruel as it may be, that thought did enter the mind as Lando held a slender lead over Hamilton ahead of the final pit stops at a drying Silverstone.

It has been well documented that Verstappen and Red Bull have managed to win a bunch of races with Norris’s name on them over recent weeks, from his victory by 0.725 seconds at Imola and the blowing of an eight-second lead in Canada to the poor start in Spain, each one gnawing away at Lando just a little more.

This time?

This time they had him well under control, Max and his Red Bull RB20 – weirdly uncooperative once again this weekend – unable to live with their fellow frontrunners.

Yet following the trend of the last few races, Verstappen and his team got the important moments and the big calls right and as the chequered flag fell Norris was behind.

Again.

And not only behind Max but behind Hamilton too, Norris’s slow stop and McLaren’s choice of soft tyres for the last stint combining to cost them dearly in the fight for victory.

Again.

Each race right now is bringing a fresh hard lesson to Norris and McLaren, who somehow keep finding it within themselves to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

It is revealing that McLaren’s only win since they re-emerged as true frontrunners came in Miami, where the MCL38 was the only car to find a nice bond between the tyres and the tricky track surface, making for what turned out to be a quite comfortable victory for Norris. It almost came easy to them that day.

But in a 50-50 race between multiple cars, in which the drivers have the power to make the difference and an inspired decision by the pit wall can alter the outcome? It is on these days they have been consistently found wanting.

Time will be their friend in this regard, for the more time Norris and McLaren spend competing at the front, the more practiced they will become at it.

As Verstappen and Red Bull themselves discovered, after a number of missed opportunities against Hamilton and Mercedes in the days before they had a car strong enough to battle their rivals on even ground, the more regularly a team and driver are exposed to these unique pressures, the easier they are to handle.

Try telling that to Lando, though, who is finding these weekly lessons increasingly tough to take…

McLaren’s inexperience has shown since Austria

The worst thing Norris could have done after Austria was play the victim.

This past week was a new experience for him, having been caught in the centre of one of those great, dramatic F1 moments that left everyone with an opinion.

All week Lando had to listen to people – including, you’ll have noticed, the more partisan factions of the British motor racing media – telling him how that Verstappen fella has always been a nasty piece of work and had shown his true colours in Spielberg, as though all Max has achieved over the last few years suddenly counted for nothing.

Against that backdrop, it would have been so easy for Norris, one of the more sensitive souls on the grid at the best of times, to turn up at Silverstone looking scarred, feeling bitter, carrying a grudge as Verstappen’s latest victim.

Instead, however, he single-handedly defused the situation the moment he appeared before PlanetF1.com and the rest of the world’s media on Thursday.

Yes, he acknowledged, he was wrong to call for Max to issue an apology after the race. He was frustrated and upset and maybe said some things he didn’t really mean. That’s all.

And viewed objectively, he continued, it was “a pretty pathetic incident” stemming from “probably one of the smallest bits of contact you could have” with another car.

And the 10-second penalty handed to Verstappen for causing a collision? Actually, Norris said, it was debatable whether a penalty should even have been applied at all.

It was a wonderfully refreshing stance and a much-needed dose of perspective, the latest little sign that Lando is maturing nicely into a driver who stands as good a shot as anyone at becoming F1’s next World Champion.

If only the same could be said of the McLaren team, whose emotional response to the incident – carrying on as if Max had committed the crime of the century and was nothing more than a wicked, petulant adolescent egged on and indulged by a bunch of bad parents on the Red Bull pit wall – failed their lead driver.

Andrea Stella’s suggestion, moments after the finish in Austria, that the FIA’s failure to punish Verstappen “properly” for a series of skirmishes with Hamilton in 2021 had emboldened him to race with such aggression, was exceedingly unhelpful.

As were those of Zak Brown, who kept the argument going at Silverstone with a series of interjections, describing Red Bull’s style as “nasty” and even referring to “off-track issues with fathers and things of that nature” – a not-so subtle reference to the behind-the-scenes tension between Horner and Jos Verstappen.

At one stage it felt as though Brown was about to go full Kevin Keegan: We’re still fighting for this title and they’ve still got to go to Hungary and Spa and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I would love it if we beat them, love it!

There was universal agreement that Keegan, then the manager of Newcastle United, had been well and truly rattled by the time he delivered that famous rant about Manchester United in 1996.

It was hard to avoid coming to the same conclusion over the McLaren hierarchy’s attempts to wage war against an indifferent, unruffled Red Bull over the last seven days.

And if this is what Stella and Brown are saying in public, what exactly are they saying behind closed doors?

Much has been over recent weeks of McLaren lacking Red Bull’s sixth sense for making the right decision at the right time in any given scenario on the track, yet since last weekend it has hit home that they also still have a lot to learn politically too.

If Norris himself managed to get over Austria so quickly, why can’t his own team?

Sergio Perez or Daniel Ricciardo? The right answer is neither

If it sometimes seems that Red Bull’s second car is a bit of an afterthought, that’s because it is. Blame Max Verstappen for that.

For some years now Verstappen has been the point around which Red Bull’s entire world revolves, the centre of their ambitions, the one to do the heavy lifting in the World Championship.

Much has been made of Red Bull’s junior program – the original F1 junior program – running dry over the last decade, not quite as proficient at producing talent as it once was.

The reason for it? Max Verstappen.

Once you find a driver – a generational talent – like that, everything else becomes secondary and the same urgency to bring through other gifted youngsters naturally no longer exists.

And for as long as Red Bull have Max, nothing else really matters. And if they don’t? Well, they’ll keep their fingers crossed for the meantime and cross that bridge when they come to it.

But Red Bull are not guaranteed to have Verstappen for much longer, not with those rumours of a move to Mercedes (a switch that increasingly makes sense) refusing to go away.

Which, combined with the ever-growing threat posed by McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari, has brought the second seat into sharper focus than at any stage since an 18-year-old Max first sat in a Red Bull and collected his maiden victory in 2016.

Sergio Perez or Daniel Ricciardo? How about neither?

Are these two really the best Red Bull can do at a time they can no longer give away performance quite so freely with the second car?

The decision to hand Perez a new contract (officially a two-year deal but, tellingly, soon revealed by Horner to be a one-plus-one arrangement) last month felt a mistake at the time, based on some flawed logic that the security of having his future sorted would magically prevent Perez from repeating his mid-season slump of 2023.

Fading badly after a healthy start to the season is what he does and 2024 has simply followed the pattern of each of his previous three years at Red Bull.

Ricciardo? Increasingly it seems that he has remained in F1 purely because Red Bull just like having him around, one of the most prominent drivers of the last decade reduced to the status of a mascot.

Jacques Villeneuve’s observation in Canada last month that Ricciardo’s image has kept him on the grid more than his results may have hurt, but it was not inaccurate, and there is very little he has done since his return one year ago that suggests he would be an improvement on Perez.

It is curious that Red Bull, those great champions of young talent, seem set to choose between two drivers in their mid-30s – neither with the recent results nor performances behind them to justify their selection – at at time their rivals are increasingly comfortable turning to youth.

In the last six years alone we have witnessed Ferrari take a chance on a 21-year-old Charles Leclerc after a single season at Sauber and be bold enough to throw an 18-year-old Oliver Bearman in at the deep end – and watch him swim – at the most intimidating of circuits in Jeddah.

McLaren, meanwhile, saw fit to replace Ricciardo with a rookie, Oscar Piastri, for 2023, with Mercedes currently flirting with the idea of taking the plunge themselves with 18-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli as the successor to Hamilton.

It has been suggested over recent months that Mercedes could seek to place the boy wonder at Williams at some point in 2024 to monitor his progress before making a final decision on whether he is suitable to replace Hamilton at such an early stage of his career.

It would be a move straight out of the old Red Bull playbook and something Horner and Co. should be looking to try with Liam Lawson, quite possibly the most gifted of all the drivers behind Verstappen in the current Red Bull stable on the evidence of his five-race cameo last year.

Helmut Marko’s recent comments that Red Bull’s shareholders are keen for the VCARB outfit return to its Toro Rosso roots as a junior team to train emerging talent – a feeling shared, apparently, by both the good doctor himself and Horner – hints at a hunger within the organisation to prioritise the production of youth once more.

Having impressed while standing in for an injured Ricciardo last year – registering the team’s best result at that point of 2023 in Singapore – the second half of this season would be more than enough time for Lawson to put the 2024 performances of Yuki Tsunoda, who will never be promoted to Red Bull’s senior team no matter what he does, into some kind of context.

And, yes, to make a case as the best option to become Verstappen’s team-mate as soon as next season.

Enough with the same old, boring dance between Perez and Ricciardo: it’s time for Red Bull to go back to being Red Bull.

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