ONE car was on fire on the grid, another did not even make the starting line and there were fierce duels between teammates and rivals, plus a climactic last lap that made last night’s British Grand Prix a humdinger.
Lewis Hamilton had a dream run, leading the race on the fast, flowing 5.8km Silverstone circuit from start to finish.
But behind his Mercedes a Hollywood-style drama unfolded as a trio of potential podium placers all suffered punctures in the closing laps with positions changing in a matter of seconds.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was secure in second place for most of the 51-lap race, only to be hit with a flat left front tyre on the penultimate lap, which let Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas through for a Mercedes 1-2.
But the inscrutable Finn was able to pit for a new tyre and still finish third.
Fourth was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who dominated a thrilling race-long scrap with Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel, but both also had tyre problems.
There were great crowd-pleasing 300km/h moments as Vettel tried to edge past the Red Bull, both cars running wide on corners and once touching wheels, which prompted Verstappen to say “he wants to play bumper cars or something” on radio to his pit.
The young Dutchman also pitted for fresh rubber late in the race, but Vettel dropped to seventh as he struggled around the last lap on a disintegrated tyre.
Hero drives came from Bottas, who started from ninth on the grid to finish second and Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo, who made up a colossal 15 places.
He also had a five-spot grid penalty for changing a gearbox, but was then relegated to 19th, due to his Red Bull’s turbo expiring in the qualifying session.
Riccardo put in a sensational drive, scything through the backmarkers to 12th place within 8 laps – then had a rare ‘off’ which put him 20th – stone last.
But he went on the attack again, charging through to be seventh on lap 36 and he got by Nico Hulkenberg’s struggling Renault in the last lap to claim fifth place.
Then came Vettel, the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, and Felipe Massa in the Williams.
Jolyon Palmer’s Renault had hydraulic problems on the way to the start line, and didn’t get there, and Vettel’s Ferrari had flames licking from its brakes on the starting grid.
Seconds after the start Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat bumped teammate Carlos Sainz off the track, while up front Max Verstappen managed to get ahead of Vettel.
Hamilton’s win was his fifth at Silverstone and the fourth consecutive.
He is now just one point behind Vettel in the Formula One world championship.
Ricciardo had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
“I hope they showed a lot of that on TV,” he said, grinning wider than ever.
“I just felt like the whole race I was overtaking cars and I hope the fans enjoyed it. We made up a chunk of positions early on and then I got a bit greedy, went off track and ended up at the back again.
“It was great fun coming back through the field and I gave it everything.
“I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been putting my Sundays together for the last handful of races, it’s been strong and to get fifth from the back today I really couldn’t ask for more.
“Last week I was the hunted and this week the hunter, I love the fight of this sport and today I felt I could really enjoy that.
“I would give this race 10 out of 10 in terms of fun.
“I think you could say that in the last six races the Honey Badger has certainly shown up on Sunday and it’s been great.”
Team principal Christian Horner was full of praise.
“It was a great performance from both of our drivers at Silverstone,” he said.
“ Max thankfully ran to the finish and provided a lot of entertainment in his rigorous defence in his duel with Sebastian (Vettel) which was firm but fair racing.
“Daniel’s recovery drive today was excellent, making a lot of places in the early laps he then lost out at Luffield (corner) and had to do it all again and to go from 20th to fifth was a great turnaround from yesterday’s problems.”
Next encounter is the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 30.