Lewis Hamilton has vowed to keep proving his critics wrong after driving into the record books with a 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 master of the British race.
They got their wish. 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.
Hamilton’s victory was played out against the backdrop of critics questioning his Britishness. Surely, that line of questioning can cease from here on in.
“I know that my teachers will be watching, and until my dying day I want to prove them wrong, and all the negative things people have said about me,” said Hamilton, 34.
“When I was eight, I really didn’t know what it was like to have money, and fame, and I just want to keep going and inspiring people now.
“Today was one of the best days I can remember having. 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.
“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 said 40 of his family were among the record crowd to descend upon an overcast Northamptonshire on Sunday.
His father, Anthony, presented him to the crowd before the race. Anthony drove with Lewis perched on the back to salute his fans.
For the opening 20 laps it looked as though Hamilton would be beaten by pole-sitter Bottas.
The Finn kept Hamilton at bay following a ding-dong battle through Brooklands, Luffield and Copse on lap four. But a thrilling race turned on its head when Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo.
Out came the safety car, and in came Hamilton on lap 20 for his one and only pit stop.
Bottas had already stopped and, with the field driving slowly, Hamilton was able to nip in for fresh rubber and retain his lead.
From that point in, the win was never in doubt. On a sensational afternoon, Hamilton also secured a bonus point by registering a stunning track record on his final lap.
“I have done so many races and you would think I’d get used to it,” added Hamilton. “But this felt just as amazing as the first win I ever had here in 2008.”
Charles Leclerc finished third for Ferrari, the young Monegasque voted as the Driver of the Day following a fine battle with Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was denied a spot on the podium after Sebastian Vettel punted him off the road. The Dutchman finished fifth, with Vettel dealt a 10-second penalty for the accident.
The German finished a lap down in 16th and is now a century of points behind Hamilton in the standings.
British novices Lando Norris and George Russell crossed the line in 11th and 14th respectively, a career-best for the latter.