LEWIS Hamilton claimed a sensational victory in a thrilling, rain-hit German Grand Prix as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed out to gift the Mercedes driver a 17 point lead in their championship battle.
Vettel had been cruising to victory ahead of Hamilton’s team-mate Valterri Bottas until rain started to fall with about 25 laps to go.
The downpour turned the race on its head and brought Hamilton into contention when he had been looking at a fourth place finish after starting 14th following a hydraulic failure in qualifying.
Hamilton began to carve into the advantage of the three leading drivers – Vettel, his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas – as chaos erupted down the field.
As the rain became heavier, Vettel lost control at the Sachs Kurve hairpin in Hockenheim, in front of tens of thousands of his home fans, bringing out the safety car.
The four-time champion swore over the radio as he absorbed the damage to his title hopes.
Hamilton pulled away at the front following the safety car period, but only after Bottas was told to back off from challenging him.
Behind the Mercedes one-two, Raikkonen took third while Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull.
It was a stunning result in a remarkable race, with Hamilton registering his 66th career victory.
“We all have dreams and they just seem so impossible to reach but I have done it time and again,” said Hamilton.