Lewis Hamilton.jpg
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP celebrates after he took pole position during the qualifying session at Silverstone race track, Britain, 09 July 2016.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix before delighted home fans Sunday to make it a hat trick of victories at Silverstone.

The Briton led from a safety car start for his fourth win of the season and the 47th of his career as he equalled Nigel Mansell's British record of four F1 wins.

The victory, following last week's win at the Austrian Grand Prix, puts Hamilton just four points behind second-placed Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the drivers' standings.

Rosberg was meanwhile being investigated by stewards after instructions from his team late in the race following a gearbox problem.

"I don't know if you can be as happy as me but I'm really happy," Hamilton said on the podium after victory celebrations.

"I'm glad that the good English weather came out. It was so tricky in those conditions. When we started the race, I was the first one who had to attack it.

"It's never plain, smooth sailing - that's why the British GP is the best."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was second in Austria, was back on the podium in third place, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, followed by Force India duo Sergio Perez and Nico Huelkenberg, Carlos Sainz in a Toro Rosso, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat in a Toro Rosso.

There were some boos for Rosberg ahead of the podium interviews by Australian former F1 driver Mark Webber - after Hamilton had also been booed after the Austrian GP.

"It was a tricky start. Max (Verstappen) got ahead then it was an exciting race," Rosberg said.

"I got past him which I was happy about, but I couldn't catch Lewis - he did a great job today."

A heavy shower shortly before the start led to a safety car start, and when the car went in on lap five several teams including Ferrari had their drivers straight into the pits for intermediate tyres.

The top four initially stayed out on the wet tyres but Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen eventually changed on a drying track on lap eight during a virtual safety car phase.

Verstappen got past Rosberg on the outside on lap 16 to loud cheers from the stands, but the German - after complaining about Verstappen's defensive tactics - eventually overtook the Dutch teenager on lap 38.

Several cars slid off at a slippery Turn One, and on lap 28 Hamilton was also a victim closely followed by Verstappen for a second time, but both avoided the gravel and recovered quickly to return to the track.

Vettel's torrid weekend continued, when after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, the four-time world champion lost time with a spin on lap 18 and was later given a five-second penalty for forcing Felipe Massa of Williams wide.

Any outside hopes Rosberg had of challenging Hamilton disappeared when he suffered a gear problem with four laps remaining and was told to skip seventh gear - leading to an investigation for being given radio instructions by his team.

Spectators in the Silverstone crowd of 130,000 were on their feet as Hamilton took the last lap to take the chequered flag by 6.911 seconds over Rosberg.

Rosberg moves to 171 points in the standings, with Hamilton on 167, Raikkonen on 106 and Ricciardo on 100, with Formula One now moving to the Hungarian Grand Prix in two weeks.

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