The Ferrari driver took his second win of the season after making a fine start from third on the grid, taking the lead and holding on to it. But there were chaotic scenes behind the German, both at the start and towards the end of the 69-lap race.
Instead, Russian Daniil Kvyat took an unexpected second place for Red Bull – his first F1 podium appearance – with Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo following him home in third.
The Ferrari driver then dedicated his triumph to Bianchi: “Cette victoire, c’est pour Jules”.
The Safety vehicle, which was initiated after Hulkenberg crashed at Turn 1, was a welcome strategic bonus for Mercedes but as he mounted his charge Hamilton clashed with Ricciardo, dropping the Brit down to sixth and then enduring an agonizing pit stop for a new front wing.
It was a miserable day for Mercedes as for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix in November 2013 – 29 races ago – the team did not have a auto on the podium.
What might have been Ferrari’s first one-two finish since Germany in 2010 unravelled after 40 of the 69 laps when Raikkonen reported a loss of power and then retired.
“I just made too many mistakes today”. Hamilton couldn’t do anything to prevent a very aggressive Ricciardo from getting past him, and with the contact that ensued during the scuffle resulting in a damaged front wing, the Mercedes slowed down considerably.
“It is an incredible day, but this victory is for Jules”.
“If you get away well at the start and are in free air, and you can have your race without compromise, it makes a lot of difference”, he said. Earlier in the race, Maldonado had also served another drive through for a collision with Sergio Perez, so it was right there with the most atrocious performances in Grand Prix racing history. He fell to fourth place at the first corner after being passed by Vettal, Kimi Raikkonen and team mate Nico Rosberg, who himself has a bad end to the race in eighth after a puncture.
Team boss Toto Wolff acknowledged it was a “great race for formula one” but joked to Bild newspaper: “Now I’m going to lock myself in the toilet and cry”. 719 clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg benefited from Raikkonen’s retirement to move up to second, but he tangled with Ricciardo on the exit of turn one with five laps remaining.
Hamilton, on the other hand, took full responsibility and apologized to Mercedes for his incidents that led him to finish sixth.
“It was a really bad performance from me, one of the worst in a long time”, Hamilton said. The defending champ also earned a drive-through penalty that dropped him all the way back to fifteenth.
Rosberg has now fallen further behind his team-mate and sits 21 points behind the reigning world champion in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix on August 23.