Lewis Hamilton said that his “heart almost stopped” when his Mercedes suffered a puncture on the final lap of the British Grand Prix after the reigning world champion nursed his ailing car home to take a seventh career Formula One win at Silverstone.
The six-time champion looked to be cruising to a regulation victory over teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Mercedes continuing their dominance of the season so far in mighty form as they kept the Red Bull of Max Verstappen at bay.
But Bottas saw his front-left tyre delaminate on the penultimate lap just as he passed the pits, forcing him to limp around the entire circuit and drop out of the points with an eventual 11th-place finish.
The same happened to Hamilton on the final lap, but with race victory within his grasp, he continued to complete the final lap and fend off the rapidly-closing Verstappen by fewer than six seconds.
“Up until that last lap, everything was smooth sailing,” Hamilton said. “When I heard Valtteri’s tyre went I looked at mine and everything seemed fine.
“The car was still turning, and the last laps I started to back off and then the tyre deflated.
“That was definitely a heart-in-the-mouth kind of feeling, because I wasn’t quite sure if it had gone down until I hit the brakes, and you could see the tyre was falling off the rim.
“Then just driving it, trying to keep the speed up, because sometimes it will fly off and break the wing and all these different things. Oh my God, I was just praying to try and get around and not be too slow.
“I nearly didn’t get around the last two corners, but thank God we did. [I] really owe it to the team.
“I think ultimately maybe we should have stopped towards the end once we saw the delaminations.”
“I had never experienced anything like that on the last lap. My heart almost stopped.”
Red Bull were left to rue their decision to pit Verstappen on the penultimate lap in an effort to secure the fastest lap, and although the Dutchman was able to secure the additional point on offer with his final tour, he missed out on a certain victory.