Lewis Hamilton says the world championship has been blown wide open after he moved to within one point of Sebastian Vettel following a crushing victory at the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton dominated from start to finish at Silverstone to secure a record-equalling fifth victory, and his fourth in succession in front of his home supporters.
The Briton's triumphant weekend was made all the more sweeter when Vettel, on course to finish third, suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap.
Vettel's tyre failure saw him drop to seventh, and allowed Hamilton to take 19 points out of his championship lead as he bids to become the first Briton to win four titles.
"I did not expect to come away from this weekend just one point behind Sebastian," Hamilton said. "This result really opens up the championship.
"Obviously the pendulum swung a little bit this weekend and I think that's only good for Formula One, only good for the fans, and super-exciting for them to see the close battle that we're continuing to have.
"Without a doubt we hope it stays the way that it's swung this time but, as you know, a pendulum swings, and we're just hoping that we can be on our toes to react to whatever is thrown at us in the next races."
Hamilton, who celebrated his victory by crowd-surfing with the jubilant British fans, arrived at his home race under a cloud after he courted criticism for dodging a promotional event in London last Wednesday.
The triple world champion was the only current driver absent from the parade after he opted to head to the Greek island of Mykonos for a short break with friends.
"There was so much negativity ahead of the race, with people questioning how I prepared," Hamilton, who emulated Britain's two-time world champion Jim Clark with five British Grand Prix victories here, added. "But there is no reason to question my preparations.
"I have more poles than most. I am building up the wins that I have. My performances are second to none. If you don't know now that my preparation is mostly on point, then I guess you never will.
''I could imagine one day driving a Formula One car and maybe winning one championship, but I couldn't imagine the number of poles that I have, matching the likes of Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna, and having the Hamilton name amongst those stars.
''I am proud to see the Hamilton name engraved on this beautiful-looking trophy, and it will be there way beyond my time.''
Hamilton's Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who issued a staunch defence of his driver on Saturday night, claimed the Englishman was inspired by the backlash.
"Sometimes you just need the right impulse to extract the maximum performance and I think maybe that performance is an answer to the critics," Wolff said.
"I still don't understand why the British hero is being beaten up before the grand prix. It probably made him even more determined to show his fans how he can drive - and he can drive."
15 November 2018
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