After qualifying second for the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton revealed that he chases an imaginary rival while leading a race to maintain his focus. The next day, a very real rival appeared to have been rendered a non-entity by the unfortunate timing of the safety car to ease his path to a record sixth Silverstone victory. But there was more to Hamilton's success than happenstance, and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was always on a collision course with defeat.
Not that it seemed that way at first. Bottas looked more comfortable throughout the weekend and didn't even need a perfect lap to pip Hamilton to pole position. And when he moved to the right to cover Hamilton off the line, Bottas achieved what he failed to do in both China and Spain by converting pole position into the lead. But any hope he had for an easy time was dispelled by being unable to shake off Hamilton during a scintillating opening four laps.
Bottas was forced to defend when he should have been trying to get out of DRS range, with the battle coming to a head on lap four of 52. Into The Loop, the tight left-hander that precedes the kink at the start of the Wellington Straight, Bottas had to cover the inside line and compromised his exit. Hamilton's resulting run, augmented by the deployment of the DRS that gave him a straightline advantage of up to 15km/h (9mph), meant Bottas had no choice but to defend into Brooklands.