Lewis Hamilton won his ninth British Grand Prix in a thriller on Sunday, challenged by rain and a charging Max Verstappen to win at the Silverstone track.

With his win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 164,000, Hamilton became the first driver with nine wins at a single circuit. He was tied at eight with Michael Schumacher, who had eight victories at the French Grand Prix.

Verstappen has surpassed Hamilton as Formula One’s top driver, but Hamilton used his experience to win in the challenging conditions for Mercedes. And it was vintage Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, who won his first race since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The 39-year-old Hamilton, racing in front of his home-country crowd, emerged from his car and, draped in the Union Jack flag, exchanged tearful hugs with those he encountered. He said that since 2021, doubt had crept in as to whether he was still good enough to compete at the highest level.

“It’s been since 2021, just every day, getting up, trying to fight, to train, to put my mind to the task and work as hard as I can with this amazing team,” Hamilton said.

The victory is the 104th of Hamilton’s career. He took the lead with 12 laps to go and topped Red Bull’s Verstappen by 1.47 seconds and fellow Brit Lando Norris of McLaren by 7.55.

“We still got up to the podium and, of course, I’m very happy with that,” said Verstappen, of the Netherlands, who said he ran a cautious race amid the weather issues and was able to move into second place thanks to good decisions he made with the car.