Lewis Hamilton was celebrating putting his name alongside Formula One’s immortals night after driving to a record sixth British Grand Prix victory.
Hamilton lapped up the adulation of the 141,000 fans who flocked to Silverstone in the hope of seeing their man surpass Jim Clark and Alain Prost as the king of the British race.
Hamilton, aided in part by the timing of a safety car, took the chequered flag by 25 seconds from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
It was his seventh win from 10 races this year, and his 80th in all. Hamilton is now 39 points clear at the halfway mark in his quest for a sixth world triumph. This is his best-ever start to a season.
Hamilton slowed down on his in-lap to collect a Union Jack from a marshal. He held it aloft from his Mercedes cockpit before declaring his love for the Silverstone crowd over the radio. As has become customary here, he then leapt into the arms of his adoring faithful who chanted his name.
“Today was one of the best days I can remember having,” said Hamilton, 34. “This is the greatest single moment for an athlete, to raise their flag as the number one.
“I remember growing up watching this sport, watching a lot of the greats, meeting a lot of the greats and even, in Niki Lauda, working with one of the greats. To now be among them is so special.
“I’ve done so many races now, and you would think that you’d get used to winning, and the feeling would numb down – but today felt like the first victory I ever had.
“One day, I will have that picture of me in the car holding the British flag. I will always be able to look at that and smile about it for the rest of my life.”
Hamilton’s fine display, capped off by sealing a bonus point with a track record on his final lap, ensured the perfect response for Mercedes following their poor showing in Austria a fortnight ago.
“To bounce back from our worst weekend of the season with a one-two finish at our home race is a great feeling,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
“Lewis was struggling a bit yesterday, but drove a very strong race today and even managed to get the point for the fastest lap on 30-lap old tyres.
“We’re still not quite sure how he managed that. It’s a great result for him in front of his home crowd.”