June 30th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - When his left-rear tyre exploded while he was leading in the early stages of the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton could have been forgiven for giving up and parking his Mercedes. Instead, he launched an aggressive and classy fightback to finish fourth in front of his home fans.
Hamilton made the rest of the field look positively pedestrian in Saturday's qualifying session, taking pole position by almost half a second from his team-mate, Nico Rosberg. At the start of the race, Hamilton launched off the line like a bullet and maintained a small gap to Sebastian Vettel during the opening laps. But on lap 8 it all went wrong, as Hamilton's left-rear tyre exploded on the Wellington Straight, leaving him to limp back to the pits for almost a full lap.
Fortunately, there was not too much damage to the floor around the left-rear tyre and Hamilton was able to put on a new set of tyres and carry on. But he had lost an enormous amount of time and emerged from the pits stone last. And then the fight-back began.
Hamilton benefitted from the emergence of the safety car on lap 16 after Jean-Eric Vergne's left-rear tyre exploded on the Hangar straight and left debris strewn across the track. The field closed up behind the safety car, which brought Hamilton back into contention, although he still had plenty of drivers to pass before he would be in a points-paying position. After the safety car period, Hamilton continued to attack, passing the cars in front until he was back in the points.
And then, on lap 41, race leader Sebastian Vettel coasted to a halt on the start-finish straight, bringing out the safety car again in order for the Red Bull to be cleared off the track. At that point, Hamilton had been driving on a set of tyres for just five laps, which meant he had plenty of rubber left to attack in the closing stages of the race. And attack he did. Hamilton followed a charging Fernando Alonso through the points-paying positions, and ended up fourth right at the end, less than a second behind Alonso but without enough time left to challenge the Spaniard.
When Hamilton's tyre let go on lap 8, the crowd reacted with enormous disappointment. They had flocked to the circuit to watch their hero win at home, and they were cruelly robbed of a likely chance to celebrate a British win on British soil. But instead, they got a thrilling, daring, aggressive, skillful display of attacking driving from one of the fastest drivers in world motorsport. Lewis Hamilton did not win, but he certainly delivered.