"I think for the first time probably in my career I made the perfect choice tyre-wise," the double Formula One world champion said after leading a Mercedes one-two with team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

"So I'm really, really happy with that."

The Briton had started on pole position but lost out at the start when he suffered wheelspin and Brazilian Felipe Massa came charging through in his Williams, closely followed by team mate Valtteri Bottas.

"As I dropped the clutch, just wheel spinning, I'm looking in my mirrors to see what's going, on but it just keeps on wheel spinning," said Hamilton. "(I thought) I'm going to lose my position to at least someone and obviously the Williams came past."

The safety car was deployed on the opening lap after a collision between the Lotuses and McLarens and Hamilton tried to make a move on Massa when the racing re-started, but went too hard and wide as Bottas swept past.

Hamilton then got ahead of Massa and Rosberg by pitting first but late rain posed an additional problem with the race outcome hanging on when to switch to intermediate tyres. One taken on too early or too late, could have lost time or destroyed the tyres but Hamilton again called it right and broke compatriot Jackie Stewart's 45-year-old record of 17 consecutive races led.

"It's always trickier for the guy who's out in the lead...and it's questionable how much risk you take," said Hamilton.

If Sunday was one of the trickiest races he has had at Silverstone, the reward was to lay hands on the golden Royal Automobile Club trophy that carries the name of every British GP winner since the championship started in 1950.

So many names are on it that the most recent ones have been inscribed on an extra plinth, whose absence from the prize giving allowed four times world champion Sebastian Vettel a joke at Hamilton's expense. The German, inspecting it, pointed out that the names stopped in 2005.

"Why did they give you the wrong one?," he enquired, well aware that Hamilton had moaned earlier in the week that many of the sport's current trophies were poorly made and lacking appeal.

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