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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton surfs on a wave of supporters as he celebrates after victory in the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 14, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Silverstone: Lewis Hamilton made the most of a favourable safety car intervention on Sunday to claim a record sixth British Grand Prix victory at a packed Silverstone.

The defending five-time world champion clocking fastest lap on his final lap to finish 25 seconds clear of Mercedes teammate and nearest title rival Valtteri Bottas after an action-packed contest.

The Briton moved 39 points clear of the Finn behind in the title race, but Bottas was unlucky with the timing of the safety car, which effectively gave Hamilton a free pit stop. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was third.

Pierre Gasly finished fourth ahead of his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, whose race was compromised by a late collision when Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari drove into him, and Carlos Sainz of McLaren.

It was Hamilton’s seventh win in 10 races this year and the 80th win of his career. He had shared the British Grand Prix record of wins, on five, with fellow-Briton Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Renault ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo, Daniil Kvyat and his Toro Rosso teammate Alex Albon.

“What a day,” said Hamilton. “To all the crowd, thank you so much for coming out.”

Hamilton, who stopped on his slowdown lap to collect a British ‘Union Jack’ flag, added: “I love you Silverstone. I appreciate everything and the opportunity to be a part of this.

“I couldn’t have done this without these guys or without my team.”

A glum Bottas said: “Congrats to Lewis … It wasn’t my day.”

A much happier Leclerc said “It’s probably the race I’ve enjoyed the most in my career.”

The safety car was deployed when Antonio Giovinazzi spun into a gravel trap in his Alfa Romeo — gifting Hamilton a ‘free’ first, and only, pit stop. The luckless Bottas, on a two stop strategy, had already pitted before the incident.

Earlier on Saturday, Hamilton defended his ‘Britishness’ at his home race against a backdrop of tens of thousands of fans flying the flag for the most successful racing driver the country has ever seen.

The five-time Formula One champion, and winner of 79 grands prix, was asked after qualifying his Mercedes on the front row at Silverstone why despite the evident support some people still had doubts.

“There’s contention because people say, well, you live in Monaco and your accent isn’t maybe as British as others because you spend a lot of time in the US,” said a reporter.

“So why do you think people question your Britishness?” Hamilton, who had missed out on pole by a mere six thousandths of a second to Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, paused for some time before making a considered response.

“I remember growing up and watching Jenson Button and all the youngsters come through and everyone migrated to Monaco and nobody ever said anything about it at the time,” said the 34-year-old.

“But, of course, when I did they had something to say about it,” he smiled.