Lewis Hamilton said he could not stop crying after he recovered from the “bottom of the barrel” to end his mammoth 945-day winless streak by claiming an emotional victory at Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

The Stevenage-born driver extended his record number of wins in front of his adoring home crowd to nine following a fascinating dry-wet-dry race in front of 164,000 spectators at Silverstone.

Remarkably, it marked the 39-year-old’s first victory in Formula One since he last triumphed in Saudi Arabia on December 5, 2021. Hamilton lost the ensuing round in Abu Dhabi – as Max Verstappen denied him a record eighth world crown in the most contentious race in the sport’s history.

Here, Hamilton admitted he battled with mental health issues in the wake of his 2021 championship defeat, and doubted if he would ever re-enter the winner’s circle.

After stepping out of his Mercedes machine, Hamilton embraced his father Anthony – the man who sent him on his road to glory. The hug lasted for nearly 20 seconds before the sobbing Briton removed his crash helmet and balaclava, and wiped away tears.

Hamilton then jumped over a barrier before lapping up the adulation of the record crowd draped in a Union flag.

Lewis Hamilton on his way to victory at SilverstoneLewis Hamilton on his way to victory at Silverstone (Image: PA)

“I am still crying,” he said, moments later. “There is no greater feeling than to finish at the front here. It is so tough for everyone. But the important thing is how you continue to get up and dig deep even when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel.

“There have definitely been days since 2021 where I didn’t feel I was good enough or I would get back to where I am today but I have had great people around me and supporting me.”

Hamilton, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next season, then took to the podium as God Save The King rang around Silverstone.

Later, he was asked why he was so emotional.

“It is the adversity that we have gone through as a team, and the adversity that I have personally experienced,” he explained. “Those challenges to get out of bed every day and give it my best shot.

“There are so many times where you feel like you give it your best shot and it is just not good enough.

“We live in a time where mental health is such as serious issue and I am not going to lie, I have experienced that.

“When I came back in 2022 I honestly thought I was over it (Abu Dhabi 2021) and I wasn’t and it has taken a long time to heal that feeling and that is only natural for anyone that has had an experience like that.

“This is the longest stint that I have not had a win – 945 days – and the emotion that has accumulated over that time, could make this one of the most special victories for me, if not the most special one. I have never cried from a win before, it just came out of me.”

Hamilton started second, and took the lead from team-mate George Russell with a fine move at Stowe on lap 18.

But as the rain worsened, both Hamilton and Russell ran off the track at the beginning of the proceeding lap, with Norris moving ahead of Russell at Copse, and then Hamilton at Abbey on lap 20.

Norris’s McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri was also on the move, driving round the outside of Russell at the Loop and heading into the Wellington Straight, before the Australian cleared Hamilton at Stowe.

Suddenly it was a McLaren one-two. Hamilton and Russell relegated to third and fourth respectively.

Verstappen, back in fifth and struggling, rolled the strategy dice to move to the intermediate tyres. Norris, Hamilton and Russell immediately switched to the wet rubber. As McLaren serviced Norris, Piastri was left out on dry tyres, and his afternoon as a contender was over.

On lap 33, Russell was told to retire the car from third place following a water leak failure with Norris seemingly on his way to victory.

But as the track dried out, Mercedes pulled Hamilton into the pits for slicks, and Verstappen, now up to third, stopped for dry rubber, too.

Norris was left out on old inters, and when he changed to dry tyres at the end of lap 40, his lead had been wiped out with Hamilton swooping into first place.

Hamilton then rolled back the years to take his 104th career win, with Verstappen demoting Norris to third.

“Get in there, Lewis,” yelled Hamilton’s race engineer, Peter Bonnington. “You are the man! You are the man! I have been waiting for this.”

Hamilton’s voice cracked as he replied: “Thank you so much, guys. It means a lot to get this one. I love you guys.”

Crying in his cockpit, Hamilton added: “I love you, Bono.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff joined the radio love-in, saying: “We never give up and what a sign-off for our last race at the British Grand Prix. We couldn’t wish for anything better.”

Despite being on the back foot for much of the race, Verstappen managed to extend his championship lead over Norris to 84 points.