The third British Grand Prix of the new Formula One season was just like any other in the eyes of Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver won the checkered flag to claim his fourth Grand Prix of the season, becoming the first driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004 to achieve that feat. He also extended his lead at the top of the standings with 112 points, 10 clear of his closest competitor, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
However, the victory was bittersweet as Hamilton celebrated his third British Grand Prix win, but without the support of his late brother Nicolas who died of cancer in November 2013.
“It was definitely a different atmosphere around the shop, on the track and on the radio,” Hamilton told reporters after his win. “It’s my favorite race, but I’m not here without him.”
On the day of his brother’s funeral, Hamilton paid tribute to him, sharing a picture of his and Nicolas sitting side-by-side with the caption: “I’m yours, baby love. I miss you today. #Nicolao7.”
While many might initially think that a family tragedy would give an added motivation to Hamilton, the Briton said he was enjoying the challenge of racing again.
“The bigger the challenge the bigger the fulfillment,” Hamilton said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to stand up in front of a crowd and celebrate with your team and your fans, not to mention the energy from the nation.”
After dedicating his Grand Prix to his late brother, Hamilton went on to claim his second win at Silverstone on home soil by a dominant margin. It helped him keep his motor racing dynasty going in the region.
He won in 2008 as well as 2009 and 2015, cementing his place in the British Grand Prix record books with six wins in the region, equaling his rival, Niki Lauda, as the most British drivers to win the race.
“You have the unbelievable pressure of having to pick up your second championship at home. It would be a huge achievement and it is clearly on my mind. So to win today with such an incredible effort and with the support I have had is incredible.”
Hamilton will have a third chance to win the title in Russia, this time as the defending champion.
The Englishman may be an artist at keeping his talent hidden beneath a dry, neutral exterior, but deep down the world champion has always had a ‘Special One.’ As the New York Times put it, “Lewis Hamilton may be on the threshold of a new Mercedes era but he does it with the vim of an artist.”
Nicolas Hamilton was signed by Mercedes when he was only 10 years old, but he looked after racing engines and technology from the factory before moving to the UK to attend college in Gloucestershire. He graduated as a mechanical engineer from Heidelberg Technische Universitaet in 1993, and is the father of two children.
Nicolas’ family, who are half a world away in Florida, watched his youngest child on the grid in Grand Prix Zero. The fact that Hamilton made a point of dedicating this win to his late brother was clearly a special moment for his family.
Even his four-time world champion Red Bull team mate, Daniel Ricciardo, acknowledged how hard it was for Hamilton to win in his brother’s place.
“I don’t think we could have written it any better than that,” Ricciardo said. “It was up for grabs right up until the end. Everyone was feeding off each other tonight and talking about that guy over the radio all weekend. It’s something to be proud of.”