Dream victory for Hamilton at Silverstone

Hamilton British GP 2008

Lewis Hamilton achieved his lifelong ambition by winning the British Grand Prix in style with a commanding drive in the tricky wet conditions. The McLaren driver was under heavy criticism over the last couple of weeks from the press following two disappointing races, so to win at Silverstone in front of the passionate home crowd was a perfect result for Lewis.

Hamilton’s victory margin was simply stunning as he lapped nearly every car in a dramatic 60-lap race at the former RAF airfield. Only Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello (second and third respectively) finished on the lead lap as everyone else was struggling in the tricky conditions.

It was Heidfeld’s third visit to the podium. The German even pulled off some beautiful overtaking moves all in the Luffield corner. First, he passed Timo Glock’s Toyota around the outside and then inside Fernando Alonso in one go. Several laps later, Heidfeld did it again when battling with Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen. Second place was a great achievement for the BMW Sauber driver.

As for Rubens Barrichello, it was a super drive from the Brazilian. The team and driver made a good call by switching onto the Bridgestone extreme wets during the heavy rain shower. By running on this tyre, he was able to pass cars left, right and centre with ease. In fact Rubens was even quicker than race leader Lewis Hamilton at this point of the race! To finish third is fantastic result for the Honda driver, especially when you consider he started way down in P16.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen could only manage fourth for Ferrari but it should have been a lot more. The team made a tactical error during its first pit-stop by not opting to change the immediates Bridgestone for Kimi. The heavy rain shower that followed meant the Finn lost so much speed and time over Lewis Hamilton.

Pole-sitter Heikki Kovalainen must be feeling disappointed to finish the race down in fifth. The Finn actually made contact with his McLaren team-mate on the opening lap exiting Copse in a desperate bid to stay in front. He lost the lead soon after when Hamilton lunge down the inside into Stowe.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso finished sixth for Renault and he too was a victim by staying out on worn immediates Bridgestone during the heavy rain shower. Alonso struggled badly on pace and was passed by the recovering Kovalainen (who spun his McLaren during the wet stages of the race). The Spaniard managed to hold off Jarno Trulli’s Toyota and Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams in the closing laps of the Grand Prix though.

Even though Nakajima made a few trips off the road, he drove another impressive race to score some valuable points for the Williams team. As for Trulli, the Italian at one point was up to third before making his final pit-stop; still it was a good result for team and driver. Not so in the sister Toyota of Timo Glock, who went around in circles(!) and finished down in twelve.

Nico Rosberg did well in the difficult handling Williams to finish in ninth, though he had to make an unscheduled pit-stop after colliding into the back of Glock. Without that incident – the German was running on the same tyres as Barrichello (the extreme wets) – he would have finished higher.

Poor old Mark Webber. The Australian made a bad start and was immediately overtaken by the fast starting Lewis Hamilton down the inside into Copse. To make matter worse, he spun exiting Becketts… The Red Bull Racing driver was able to recover but more spins followed and in the end, Webber finishing in a depressing tenth.

At least he was ahead of Felipe Massa, who had a nightmare weekend at Silverstone. First off, he crashed his Ferrari after slipping up on Alonso’s oil in the opening practice session. Then he had that wheel-nut problem in qualifying, missing out on a run to do a fast lap. And in the race he spun no less than six times!

He was the last remaining runner in the British Grand Prix, behind Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais and Timo Glock.

As for the other title contender, Robert Kubica had the opportunity to move into the points lead but he lost control of his BMW Sauber under braking for the Abbey chicane.

In terms of the list of retirements, Jenson Button was unable to stay on the road despite running the same tyre as team-mate Barrichello. Nelson Piquet was in a potential point scoring position but lost control of his Renault and headed into the Abbey gravel trap. Both Force Indias ended up in the gravel too with Adrian Sutil aquaplaning (almost hitting Bourdais along the way) and Giancarlo Fisichella spinning while being lapped by the fast Hamilton. As for David Coulthard, the Scot’s final race in front of home fans didn’t even lasted a single lap as he collided into Sebastian Vettel at Priory.

But the day belonged to Lewis Hamilton. His victory at Silverstone was the perfect answer to his race critics. He didn’t put a foot wrong in the wet conditions and it will be fascinating if he can keep up this winning momentum in the second half of this exciting Formula One season. The result means he is now the joint leader in the standings with both Ferrari drivers on 48 points. Kubica is only two points behind!

British Grand Prix, Silverstone:

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h39:09.440
2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +1:08.500
3. Barrichello Honda +1:22.200
4. Raikkonen Ferrari +1 lap
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
6. Alonso Renault +1 lap
7. Trulli Toyota +1 lap
8. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +1 lap
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +1 lap
10. Webber Red Bull-Renault +1 lap
11. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
12. Glock Toyota +1 lap
13. Massa Ferrari +2 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:32.150

Not classified/retirements:

Kubica BMW Sauber 40 laps
Button Honda 39 laps
Piquet Renault 36 laps
Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 17 laps
Sutil Force India-Ferrari 11 laps
Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 lap
Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1 lap

World Championship standings, round 9:

Drivers:

1. Hamilton 48
2. Raikkonen 48
3. Massa 48
4. Kubica 46
5. Heidfeld 36
6. Kovalainen 24
7. Trulli 20
8. Webber 18
9. Alonso 13
10. Barrichello 11
11. Rosberg 8
12. Nakajima 8
13. Coulthard 6
14. Vettel 5
15. Glock 5
16. Button 3
17. Piquet 2
18. Bourdais 2

Constructors:

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. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7

Next race: German Grand Prix, Hockenheim 18-20 July