British Grand Prix 2008: Lewis Hamilton scores home win as Ferrari flounder

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Silverstone, 2008, 470150

Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling British Grand Prix at Silverstone as McLaren capitalised on a strategic blunder by Ferrari.

McLaren called the changing conditions perfectly while Ferrari got their strategy badly wrong for Kimi Raikkonen, leaving him to battle his way up to fourth.

Hamilton’s win sets up a three-way tie at the top of the Formula 1 championship standings at the halfway point in the championship.

McLarens bang wheels

The race started in damp conditions with Heikki Kovalainen on pole position ahead of Mark Webber. But it was the second row of Raikkonen and Hamilton that made the best start. While Raikkonen was boxed in behind the front row men, Hamilton burst through to take second after banging wheels with his team mate at the first corner.

Hamilton kept up the pressure on Kovalainen and made his pass on lap four, lunging through at Stowe leaving Kovalainen unable to respond, although the Finn feinted at his team mate as they went into Vale.

Further back the opening laps were chaotic. Webber spun as he came onto the Hangar straight, keeping his Red Bull away from the cars rushing at him.

At Abbey first Kazuki Nakajima went off then Felipe Massa spun as well, this first of many for the Ferrari driver. At Priory, David Coutlhard tapped Sebastian Vettel and both spun straight into the gravel, ending their races, and Coulthard’s final home Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen catches Lewis Hamilton

Fernando Alonso had gambled on ‘extreme’ wet weather tyres at the start and to begin with they paid off. Alhough team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr passed him at the start he quickly reversed the move and then took Nick Heidfeld for fourth. He then began to close on the top three of Hamilton, Kovalainen and Raikkonen.

But on lap 11 he found Kovalainen suddenly in front of him. The Finn had spun at Abbey, letting Raikkonen up into second.

Webber quickly began to fight his way through the pack, passing Kazuki Nakajima, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil (who’d made a characteristically good start in the wet), Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. But on lap 18 he had to make his first pit stop.

By this time Raikkonen had cut the gap to Hamilton from over six seconds to 1.6s. As the track continued to dry, Raikkonen had the quicker car and set the fastest lap of the race at this stage.

Kovalainen was in the pits on lap 19 for a fresh set of intermediates. As the track seemed to be getting drier, it looked like McLaren had made a mistake by not keeping him on his worn intermediates.

When Hamilton and Raikkonen came in together two laps later McLaren did the same but Ferrari left Raikkonen on the same tyres. But as rain began to fall heavily it became clear that McLaren had made the right decision. On their out lap Hamilton was 1.1s quicker in the second sector alone.

Ferrari’s strategy blunder

Over the following laps Hamilton streaked away. Raikkonen lost five seconds on lap 24 alone – by lap 27 he was 21.8s in arrears and Kovalainen had caught him. But Kovalainen took a long time to pass his countryman and, when he finally did, a perfectly-placed Heidfeld pounced on the pair of them, and took both drivers in one move at Woodcote.

By the halfway stage in the race rain was falling very heavily and it was starting to look as though extreme wet weather tyres would be necessary. Raikkonen finally gave up and pitted for fresh intermediate tyres on lap 30. Fernando Alonso was also in trouble having pitted and kept the same tyres on lap 21. He was back in on lap 27 and took on enough fuel to last him until the end.

Robert Kubica was thriving in the rain, passing Piquet for fourth on lap 32 and then taking Kovalainen two laps later, putting him third.

The Honda drivers had capitalised on the leaders’ problems and on lap 36 Rubens Barrichello was into the pits. The team gambled on switching him to extreme wet weather tyres, but a problem with the fuel hose kept him stuck in the pits and not taking on any fuel. Worse, team mate Jenson Button was queued behind him. A few laps later Button retired with a technical problem.

Heavy rain catches drivers out

But as the weather got worse more drivers were flying off the track. Giancarlo Fisichella had spun out on lap 27. Nelson Piquet Jnr, having passed Alonso earlier, went out on lap 36. Timo Glock spun and continued and up ahead even Hamilton went wide at Abbey. At Becketts first Kubica went off and then Massa had another spin, the car snapping away from him as he turned into Maggots. Both continued.

McLaren faced another strategy gamble when Hamilton came in for his second pit stop on lap 38. And again it looked as though they’d called it wrong as they elected not to put him on extreme wet weather tyres, but gave him new intermediates instead.

Surprisingly BMW did the same but Barrichello was able to lap up to five seconds per lap quicker than them. He even unlapped himself from Hamilton with ease going down the Hangar straight. But as the rain eased over the coming laps Hamilton was able to improve his lap times much more quickly than the opposition – up to four seconds faster than the likes of his team mate and Raikkonen.

Kubica was caught out by the weather, however, and went off backwards into the gravel on lap 40.

Nakajima loses out at the last

After Barrichello made his final stop he slotted in third behind Heidfeld, with Jarno Trulli, Alonso, Kovalainen, Raikkonen and Timo Glock, whose Toyota had survived an assault from Nico Rosberg, who lost his front wing in the contact.

Massa was stil struggling and on lap 50 spun for the fifth time. Kovalainen had another spin, allowing Raikkonen and Alonso past.

Raikkonen then reeled in Alonso and passed him or fourth, Kovalainen following to demote the Renault driver to sixth. But Kazuki Nakajima could not find a way past Alonso – but Trulli pounced to demote the Williams driver almost within sight of the chequered flag.

Rosberg finished ninth after stopping for a new front wing with Webber a disappointing tenth after starting on the front row of the grid. He spun more than once during his attempts to climb back through the field.

Sebastien Bourdais was 11th ahead of Timo Glock and Massa, after a poor performance by the Ferrari driver.

Hamilton’s win was the perfect response to growing criticism of his driving after the mistakes at Montreal, Magny-Cours and in qualifying at Silverstone yesterday. But for all the drama of the previous races it is now all tied at the top of the championship with eight races to go.

Advert | Go Ad-free

86 comments on British Grand Prix 2008: Lewis Hamilton scores home win as Ferrari flounder

1 2 3 6
  1. Scott Joslin said on 6th July 2008, 16:08

    Just back from the track today! Wow, what a great race, so many things happening – Wish every race could be wet.

    Big shout out to Lewis – Great drive! Well done Rubens too!

  2. “Kimi Raikkonen catched Lewis Hamilton”? More haste, less speed, Keith – it’s “caught”, of course. And “Kovalainen took a long time to pass his countryman and, when he finally dead,” – “dead” should be “did”, I think. Editorial services supplied free – and respect to the excellence of your report. Sounds like a brilliant race and I look forward to seeing it when Fox deign to show it over here on their delayed time scale. Can’t wait until SpeedTV get it back…

  3. Internet said on 6th July 2008, 16:33

    At least you know the result before hand Clive. I turned my TV off halfway through the race when Lewis was leading cos I was so nervous and couldn’t watch knowing Lewis’s tendency to make silly mistakes!

    Just wondered what happened to Kova? He was lapped in same equipment under similar strategies. There was contact between the two McLarens at the start. His car might have been damaged. We will have to wait what Heikki has to say to understand. Maybe his setup was wrong or he was just dead slow.

  4. I think we have to admit that Hamilton is the rainmeister – he was lapping at similar times to Barrichello’s when Rubens had extreme wets on and was five seconds a lap faster than anyone else. Kovalainen is good, I don’t think there’s any doubt of that, it’s just that Hamilton has the edge in the dry and is way better in the wet.

    But how about Mr Consistency, my boy Nick? As far as I can tell, he was the only driver to keep it on the island at all times (even Lewis went wide at Abbey once, apparently). Nick has looked ordinary next to Kubica this season but it has been the qualifying that has caused that. Now that he seems to have got the hang of getting the BMW closer to the sharp end of the grid, we can expect him to be mixing it with the front runners again.

  5. Number 38 said on 6th July 2008, 17:33

    I’m sorry guys, I’m a DRIVER and from my seat that race was nothing more that a survival test. The first commenter, Scot “wishes every race could be wet”.
    Very immature, be thankful they aren’t! There’s little doubt many are celebrating because Hammy won, and as I’ve posted elsewhere there are those who got a good laugh from Ferrari’s errors, but chaos does not make a great race.
    Two weeks ’til Hungary and praying for good weather!

  6. Just came back from Silverstone, have to say, I’m not Hamilton’s biggest fan but his drive was awesome.
    Would have been interesting if KimiBot had been given more appropriate tyres.

    Great first GP for myself, exciting race, plenty of stuff happenin left right and centre. How gutted was Kubica and it was nice to see Rubens get what his ability ddeserves.

    As for Dc, last home GP and binned it on lap 1, and I know Vettel did too but there you go.

  7. Sush said on 6th July 2008, 18:18

    four drivers have been fined this weekend for speeding in the pitlane.
    http://www.f1technical.net/news/9706?sid=bd2a4bddcf89905ec44818b4f26a5a3f

    Quick Nick and Rubens are my drivers of the day. And I was rooting for little Kazuki towards the end too!

  8. Architrion said on 6th July 2008, 18:20

    I liked Hamilton winning this race, because we all are too fast to bash drivers, sometimes with no reason at our side. Hamilton didn’t deserve all the punishment he got these days, except the Canada issue, IMHO. His race was real fine, outdriving his mate and being consistent the whole race. He had the benefit of the right strategy, but that is what a real team is supposed to do. Thumbs up for Hami and McLaren.

    On the other hand, I have to light up the great great race Alonso did, but of course, that has to be readen between lines. When the track was at its worst at the beginning and he was heavy fuel loaded he was extremely fast, better than Raikkonen and Kovalainen (with that ugly thing that somebody in Renault’s camp called an F1 car!!). Lately he suffered another huge strategy error (don’t know if it was his fault or his team’s). Made the last pitstop before half of the race, and he resisted far beyond the limits of his worned tyres, making almost imposible to be overtaken by Kimi and Kovi, and keeping safe his sixth place. That strategy fault was really ugly, thinking on the warning the team gave to Nelsinho, about raining within 5 minutes. Knowing that they didn’t change tyres…. I couldn’t understand a single word.

  9. It’s not a question of risking a strategy. I simply think Ferrari should have understand that Barrichello was going too fast on the extremes and they should have changed.

  10. Chalky said on 6th July 2008, 18:54

    I watched the race from the Farm grandstand at Abbey chicane. We had standing water for most of the race and a lake for the last third!
    Internet – There was a clear difference between Hamilitons car control and Kovi’s through this section. Kovi spun here but Hamilton just caught it every time. I was very impressed with Hamilton here. The one mistake where Hamilton nearly spun, he caught it and rode the grass on the inside of the exit, it was a good save considering. Kimi was also impressive there. He was very stable and never looked in trouble. Massa was too heavy on the exit and spun twice maybe three times (I lost count). Webber seemed to be braking too late and was always going in too deep and spun here too.
    Kubica spin nearly wiped out Kovi as he spun on entry, like Sutil did, and went backwards across the track just missed Kovi ending up in the kitty litter. I think he hit the same standing water that Sutil did.

    I’m not sure if the Porsche Super Cup race helped, there was clearly still fuel on the track at this point from the lap 1 crash despite a pathetic attempt of 1 broom and 6 marshalls to clear it. Also every time Radio Silvestone said “It’s getting dry” we got hit by a new rain burst. :D

    It was a great day. Hats off to Hamilton, he kept it calm and quick when everyone else was losing it in the wet.

  11. Scott Joslin said on 6th July 2008, 19:20

    Number 38 – Thanks for pointing out you are a driver!

    I am a FAN and that does not allow you to patronize all those that do not DRIVE!

    I have been an F1 fan for over 20 years so I would like to consider my perspective on Motorsport anything other than Immature.

    I am sorry, but the weather conditions today made for a great race to watch, and it seemed some drivers found it hard but not all of them. Let me ask you a question, Why do people talk about Ayrton Senna’s performance at Donington Park in 1993 – Was that just a joke or a display of amazing driver car control? Same as Jackie Stewards amazing win in the German Grand Prix in the early seventies – Races where the car control was vital and all those that did not posses the level of skill just floundered!

    What you are saying is you would prefer to watch prosessional races where the drivers skills are not tested to the maximum.

    Or are you a DRIVER with very limited car control that is frightened of the rain?

    My opinion is that at the moment, Wet races produce very exciting races that challenge the drivers car control – that means they can pass and really make up time on another driver. In the dry in F1 it is very often a stalemate as the maximum is easily achieved.

    Moving on the subject of “laughing at Ferrari” I never mentioned Ferrari but I feel they should get a bit of stick for todays performance, seeing Mclaren get bashed everytime they make a mistake.

    Here is to the Hungarian GP, lets hope it is as exciting as 2006 – Oh, a wet race! :)

  12. John Beamer said on 6th July 2008, 20:00

    Scott – here, here …..Bernie should put sprinklers on all tracks and we’d stop the boring races like Magny Cours

  13. Loki said on 6th July 2008, 20:02

    Once again, my faith in Massa takes a new dive. He might as well just done a few doughnuts off the start and parked the car. Ferrari were diabolical today, from closing up onto Hamilton to falling further and further behind.

    But all in all, a good race to watch – particularly impressed with Nick Hiedfeld’s charge, dispatching a McLaren and a Ferrari in one go. An unpredictable result, and sets up for an interesting 2nd half of the season.

    If only Kubica landed a 7th place to make it a 4 way tie!

  14. verasaki said on 6th July 2008, 20:20

    ditto to fox sentiments, clive. i had no idea they were also going to run the german gp. at least speed’s going to do the pre-race for that.

    but honestly, it really did beat the heck outta magny snore from my couch. every wet race is a survival course, of course. but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bring out some usually veiled talents nor does it dull the excitement. most of us are just spectators, after all. i’m no hamilton lover but he was the best driver today and i’m glad he won. i’d have been “gladder” if kubica hadn’t washed out or alonso had pulled third place but, that’s just me.

    but my, my what did happen to massa? i hope he’s not going to go into a funk about this one for the next couple of races. i’m really starting to like these mid-season stats with the championship up for grabs by several drivers.

  15. Wesley said on 6th July 2008, 20:27

    On Fox network before the race,Heikki was asked on the grid if the rain would affect his race and he smugly says “It doesn’t matter”…..and he started eating those words 4 laps later.

    WAY TO GO NICK !!!!

    @ Scott on comment #11…well said,thanks for standing up for us FANS who don’t appreciate being looked down upon because we don’t drive a race car.That is not what this is about.We support the sport we love,not to be insulted by the drivers we support.

1 2 3 6

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.