Monday, July 7, 2008

Flawless Hamilton triumphant at sodden Silverstone

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton gave his adoring fans exactly what they came to see at a sodden Silverstone on Sunday. A brilliant British Grand Prix victory in often treacherous conditions lifted him right back into contention for the world championship, on a day when Kimi Raikkonen failed to shine and Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica were the ones who came home pointless.

The race started on a damp track, with the promise of more rain to come. Hamilton touched wheels with pole-sitting team mate Heikki Kovalainen on lap one at Copse after making a terrific start, and edged ahead of him at Becketts on the fifth lap. Thereafter it was his race to lose, and the most crucial point came when both he and Raikkonen, an apparent threat at this stage, pitted on the 21st lap. But where McLaren gave their man another set of standard wet-weather Bridgestones, Ferrari kept theirs on the same set. Hamilton rocketed away from the red car, and Raikkonen slipped steadily down the order as strong mid-race performances from Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica put BMW Sauber into the frame for podium finishes.

Heavy rain in the middle of the race created further havoc, however, as driver after driver slipped and slid off the road. This was where clever strategic thinking by Ross Brawn at Honda saw the team risk bringing in both Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button for extreme wet tyres on the 35th lap. The Brazilian made great use of them and was able to push up into second place until a late switch back to intermediates. As Heidfeld clung on to a good second place, after making the right call for fresh intermediates at his first stop, Barrichello recovered to a podium finish that was a great boost to the Japanese team.

Behind them, Raikkonen finally fought his way out of a late-race battle with Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Kovalainen to finish fourth.

That means that Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen now lead the world championship fight with 48 points apiece, with Kubica fourth on 46!

Kovalainen fought his way past Alonso in the closing stages for fifth, as Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli closed in on them. On the last lap the Japanese racer’s attempts to pass the Spaniard dropped him a place, as Trulli saw an opening and pounced.

Nico Rosberg was ninth after a terrible race, in which he started from the pit lane and later damaged yet another nose and front wing after rear-ending Timo Glock’s Toyota. Mark Webber also had a terrible day, spinning on the opening lap after starting from the front row. He spun several more times on his way to 10th, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais, Glock and Massa. All of them spun at least once, with Massa talking the award for the most spins (around six) and the dizziest driver by the end.

The extreme wet tyres did not turn the trick for Button, who ended his day off the road in the second Honda, as did Renault’s Nelson Piquet after a decent run. Both Force Indias also spun out of contention. And Sebastian Vettel’s mistake on the first lap helped to put David Coulthard out of his last British Grand Prix.

“That,” Hamilton said afterwards, “was the toughest win of my career, but definitely the best.”


Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 22 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 60 1:39:09.440 4 10
2 3 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 60 +68.5 secs 5 8
3 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 60 +82.2 secs 16 6
4 1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 59 +1 Lap 3 5
5 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 59 +1 Lap 1 4
6 5 Fernando Alonso Renault 59 +1 Lap 6 3
7 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota 59 +1 Lap 14 2
8 8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 59 +1 Lap 15 1
9 7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 59 +1 Lap 20
10 10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 59 +1 Lap 2
11 14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 59 +1 Lap 13
12 12 Timo Glock Toyota 59 +1 Lap 12
13 2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 58 +2 Laps 9
Ret 4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 39 Spin 10
Ret 16 Jenson Button Honda 38 Spin 17
Ret 6 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 35 Spin 7
Ret 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 26 Spin 19
Ret 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 10 Spin 18
Ret 15 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 0 Spin 8
Ret 9 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 0 Spin 11

Current Team Positions

Pos Team Points
1 Ferrari 96
2 BMW Sauber 82
3 McLaren-Mercedes 72
4 Toyota 25
5 Red Bull-Renault 24
6 Williams-Toyota 16
7 Renault 15
8 Honda 14
9 STR-Ferrari 7
10 Force India-Ferrari 0
11 Super Aguri-Honda 0

Current Driver Position

Pos Driver Nationality Team Points
1 Lewis Hamilton British McLaren-Mercedes 48
2 Felipe Massa Brazilian Ferrari 48
3 Kimi Räikkönen Finnish Ferrari 48
4 Robert Kubica Polish BMW Sauber 46
5 Nick Heidfeld German BMW Sauber 36
6 Heikki Kovalainen Finnish McLaren-Mercedes 24
7 Jarno Trulli Italian Toyota 20
8 Mark Webber Australian Red Bull-Renault 18
9 Fernando Alonso Spanish Renault 13
10 Rubens Barrichello Brazilian Honda 11
11 Nico Rosberg German Williams-Toyota 8
12 Kazuki Nakajima Japanese Williams-Toyota 8
13 David Coulthard British Red Bull-Renault 6
14 Timo Glock German Toyota 5
15 Sebastian Vettel German STR-Ferrari 5
16 Jenson Button British Honda 3
17 Sebastien Bourdais French STR-Ferrari 2
18 Nelsinho Piquet Brazilian Renault 2
19 Giancarlo Fisichella Italian Force India-Ferrari 0
20 Takuma Sato Japanese Super Aguri-Honda 0
21 Anthony Davidson British Super Aguri-Honda 0
22 Adrian Sutil German Force India-Ferrari 0

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