Hamilton gave his all as McLaren dithered: British GP analysis


Lewis Hamilton's 2024 British Grand Prix victory was hard-fought and deserved. But, writes Mark Hughes, this was another F1 race where McLaren mistakes cost it the win

Lewis Hamilton closes his eyes in celebration after winning the 2024 F1 British Grand Prix


Lewis Hamilton became the first driver in F1 history to win the same grand prix nine times. That it should be his home race and that it should come after such a long fallow period just made the achievement all the more remarkable.

After qualifying alongside pole-sitting team mate George Russell, he ran the early laps in the wheel tracks of the other Mercedes. But that was when the track was dry. “As soon as the rain came I knew I had to make my move,” said Hamilton. Clearly quicker in the wet conditions on slicks, he sailed by on the 17th lap into Stowe.

It wasn’t wet enough for intermediates but it was wet enough for the McLarens and their bigger wings to catch and pass both Mercs. As Hamilton and Russell each ran wide at Abbey on lap 19, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri put McLaren 1-2. A few laps earlier they’d passed Max Verstappen’s Red Bull (which was opening out its front tyre) and left it well behind.

Lando Norris passes Lewis Hamilton in 2024 F1 British GP

Norris passes Hamilton as McLaren’s wet weather advantage shows

Bryn Lennon/F1 via Getty Images

In this wet phase on slicks, the McLarens looked by far the fastest; compliant and driveable. The Mercs were faster on the straight but looked stiffer and edgier in the wet. They didn’t have the pace to retaliate even as the initial shower subsided, but were hanging on as Norris and Piastri circulated together at the front.

With its cars 1-2, having past both Mercs in the process and with Verstappen far behind, McLaren looked to have this race under control. But it slipped through their fingers yet again, Norris and Piastri finishing only third and fourth behind Verstappen who mounted a late but unsuccessful charge on Hamilton.

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How did McLaren lose? Pitstop timing and tyre choice. As a second more serious rain shower arrived, the timing of when to switch to intermediates became a crucial one. Norris procrastinated with his race engineer about when to stop and left it a lap too late. Which, because Norris had pit priority, meant Piastri was pitted two laps too late. Two laps later than Verstappen who called it perfectly on lap 26, with Norris and the Mercs following him in on 27. Verstappen and Red Bull were keeping themselves in the game through smart, decisive calls, not raw pace.

Coming in on worn slicks on a wet track lost Piastri a disastrous 18sec and several places. Being stuck behind Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari for the rest of the inters stint extended his total time loss to around 22sec. Totally unnecessarily – as he could have been stacked behind Norris in the pits and lost only a fraction of that. Had Norris and his engineer been more decisive and made the call, like Verstappen, to come in on lap 26, McLaren may very well have scored a 1-2.

Norris retained the lead into the inters-shod stint but took more from the tyre than Hamilton who was soon closing. Russell retired from third with a loss of water pressure after 33 laps. With Russell out, Piastri delayed and Ferrari nowhere, this seemed to be coming down to a Norris vs Hamilton duel – to the vocal approval of the crowd.

With the rain easing and the track becoming close to ready for slicks once more, Hamilton was within undercut range of Norris. Yet again Norris was uncertain about when to make the call. Mercedes pulled Hamilton in on lap 38 and fitted him with new softs, McLaren responded with Norris the following lap but there was a couple of seconds delay in the pits. He’d had to steer around the Ferrari mechanics who were coming out for Sainz and had skidded to a stop in his pit box. It was enough to lose him the lead to Hamilton. Not only that, but he’d chosen to match Hamilton by having softs fitted – despite having a set of the much superior mediums available (unlike Hamilton).

Lando Norris pitstop in 2024 British Grand Prix

Pitstop delay put Norris behind Hamilton

Alessio Morgese/NurPhoto via Getty

Piastri had pitted a lap earlier and had the mediums fitted. He rejoined in fourth (behind Verstappen, who’d chosen hards) around 15sec behind Norris. Showing the value of the mediums, he finished just 5sec behind after 12 laps, an average gain of 0.8sec per lap. It further confirmed that with the right choices this would’ve been McLaren’s race.

But it was Hamilton’s instead. Verstappen used his hard tyres to charge by Norris with a few laps to go. But although he closed up on Hamilton, Lewis was giving it everything to stay out of Verstappen’s DRS reach to the flag. Career victory number 104.

He feels like he may be adding to that number even before he leaves for Ferrari. “This weekend was the first time we did it [this year] on pure pace. Qualifying on the front row, both of us pulling away from everybody else in the first stint. We’re on a great trajectory and the car is starting to really, really come alive and feel great.”

Lewis Hamilton holds British GP trophy as he waves to crowd at 2024 F1 race