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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

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

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  1. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    7th July 2008, 8:54

    i dont see how anybody can say hamiltons drive was anything other than amazing. if it was senna who drove the same race you’d all be saying what a legend he is.

    Yes ferari made a pigs ear of the strategy, but thats part of formula 1. The best example of how good hamilton was is the fact while rubens was 10 seconds a lap faster than everyone on the inters, hamilton, on the same inters, was 6 seconds a lap fatser than them all. that is amazing. even martin brundle was comparing his wet driving to that of schumacher and senna and i respect brundles opinoin immensley.

    im not saying hamilton is as good as schumacher or senna, he makes too many mistakes, but hes only driven 26 grand prix, he is still learning, in a couple of seasons aslong as he learns from his mistakes theres no reason why he cant be as good as some of the greats. he was in a league of his own today. it was a priveleg to be there and see it happening right in front of me. if hamilton does go on to be a multi-world champion people will still talk about that drive after he retires. immense.

    all the hamilton bashers, we all had a pop at him after canada adn france, desevedly so, with the adulation must come the criticism when he makes mistakes. but how anyone can say that wasnt a great drive when he won by over a minute is beyond me.

  2. Please correct me if I’m wrong but Kimi did spin as well.His race was not only ruined by Ferrari’s strategy but his own doing too.Great comeback though. Brilliant drive by Hamilton, he really kept it together with all the pressure on him.

  3. Anyone that thinks we were robbed of a great race because Ferrari messed up Raikkonens strategy was clearly not watching the same race I was. In the middle section of that race when Raikkonen finally received his new set of inters he wasn’t able to get within 3 seconds of Hamilton’s lap times and I’m being generous to Raikkonen, in most cases when I looked at the lap times it was nearer 6! Hamilton was leading so didn’t even have to push yet was outpacing all but Rubens. He lapped his team-mate who we should remember received the same new tyres as Hamilton at his first stop. He passed his team-mate on track no pass in pit that Raikkonen likes doing with Massa.

    That was a GREAT drive not a good one a GREAT one and as result ITV will go all over the top about Hamilton next race!

  4. Jolene, everyone lost control at one point in the race.

    apart from heidfield, I was expecting more from Sutil though.

  5. Scott Joslin
    7th July 2008, 9:58

    David Watkins – the circuit commentator at Silverstone is Ian Titchmarsh. He has been the Britain’s premier circuit commentator for as long as I can remember (20 odd years)

  6. but it is a bit concerning for Ferrari fans the number of silly mistakes that have begun to creep in , since 2007 , and now even more in 2008 . To now ask something like what possessed Ferrari to send a car out with USED inters. when even extremes were a strong consideration at that time , does not help , but still a big puzzle to me. Surely , when you are leading a championship , you do not have to go to the extent of gambling against the weather changing for the better , on a day when it has been appalling to say the least , with heavy , heavy cloud about , and in a place like the UK where rain is as common as sand in the desert ? I can understand Renault doing that , they know they will not win , so worse case they lose a few positions , which they did , but if , and that’s a very doubtful IF , the rain had suddenly stopped , they could have picked up a podium or even a win , worth a chance . Not the same with Ferrari.

  7. andy suridge
    7th July 2008, 10:28

    A big well done-(to mr weber for letting him through,talk about a wide open door)he couldnt lose from that position.

  8. Great race by LH, maybe his best till date.

    I was really surprised by the mistake Ferrary did with Kimi, I did not understand that move, I guess that there was a gamble that went wrong but still, maybe it was just better to be more conservative (like MCL did) and keep second place, also it took them too many time to make him back to the pit.

    I am also wondering how many more spins Massa would have to do before Ferrari realizes he is not the man for them, anyway it was fun to count spins and see how the guy was still able to finish the race, if he gets fired maybe he has some room in a Circus.

    Finally I am sorry for Kubica, till yesterday was the only driver that had not made a single mistake in the season… and my (unlikely) favourite for the title.

  9. Great race by Hamilton. His best so far in F1. Today he deserves the hype he’s getting. However, the man of the race is a couple: BB (Brawn-Barrichello).
    Also, the race asks for some Massa bashing. A Champ leader has never been so sad as him yesterday. Ferrari must be ashamed.

  10. After that Massa/Raikkonen perfomance, Fernando for Ferrari!

  11. A good race with an excellent drive from Hamilton – he really does shine on the big occasion.

    Having raced at Silverstone in the wet a few times the race was v interesting, as more than at other tracks there is a huge amount of grip available off line. Hamilton found these lines around the track, he was driving the perfect wet line, as was Heidfeld, esp through Luffield. Also Lewis did amazingly to keep the car on the road during the 3/4 distance monsoon.

    Others who should have known better, seemed to doggedly stick to the dry line through the corners and it was costing them oodles of time – just rewatch Kova through Brooklands/Luffield, or Massa (the whole race).

    Another great wet race for F1, which once again demonstrates that todays cars have way too much grip.

    Certainly in the UK at least yesterday’s race should add another 1million to the viewing figures – a home win and an entertaining race with something going on every lap (even if some laps it was just another Massa spin)

  12. i just begining to wonder whether ferrari are benifiting from the shumacher developments…and they have not done enough to keep up with maclaren…
    they had quite a few bits of problems…definatly they got their strategy badly wrong this time
    as far as massa is concidered i dont blame him for qualifying 9th cuz he had a bad shunt in practice which seemed to effect his qualifying (dominicali explianed problem with the tensor in the suspension after quali)…
    cant explain massa driving though

  13. in my opinion barachello was the best driver…
    i think barachello experience came to play in that situation and probably ross brawn effect. i really hope honda to do better in the next season and i think they should keep hold of barachello to develop the car..cant say much abt jenson they shoul probably replace him..

    hamilton also did a good job (altough i dont like hamilton alot) he had a good car setup this time.

    nick did also a great job…really like nick humble attitude which i would also like to see in hamilton..

  14. andy surridge
    7th July 2008, 12:21

    How incredibly insane-Jenson is the top man no way will they get rid of him.
    Yeh he had a bad race so did others massa ect
    they run that team around jenson HE WILL COME GOOD
    given a decent car.

  15. My vote for drive of the day is to Barichello & Brawn for the strategy. Hamilton drove a ripper but things went his way when Kimi looked to have his measure.

    The incentive to scrub the tread off the intermediates sure didn’t pay for Kimi, Webber, or Alonso. I follow Mark and was gutted for him more when his charge back ended due to the intermediate strategy than for the opening lap spin. Mark has said there was a shift glitch show up on the data on the spin but for mine its the same old mechanical grip on cold tyres issue and same old slow off the line thing. We can see the same on all 4 RB tubs now.

  16. andy surridge
    7th July 2008, 12:24

    Honda will be back on top soon with the top man brawn.
    Jenson tru brit-Not wallowing off to cuckoo clock land because he doesnt like his photo being taken!!!

  17. If anything Rubens was the one who “had a good car set up this time” what with running on the full wet tyres which were worth – at one point – up to 10 seconds a lap (according to Brundle during the race commentary). Both Hamilton and Heidfeld were more impressive – Hamilton for his ridiculous speed on intermediates in the wet and Heidfeld for both of his double passes and his seemingly effortless way of keeping out of trouble.
    “Lewis had a good setup” is just another one of these ludicrous lines that are being bandied about this morning by people who just refuse to acknowledge that Hamilton is a bloody good Formula 1 driver.

  18. andy surridge
    7th July 2008, 13:23

    Any one of those 20 drivers could have won if you have a decent car.
    because he is who he is its just SHOWBOATING

  19. i do agree that hamilton drove well but i dont agree that jenson is a really good driver..altough he is ok..he could have atleast stayed in the race and could have finished in the top ten (concidering he also went for wets)…

    p.s no offence to jenson…i really want honda to compete with the top teams..

  20. ““Lewis had a good setup” is just another one of these ludicrous lines that are being bandied about this morning by people who just refuse to acknowledge that Hamilton is a bloody good Formula 1 driver.”

    Well he did have a good set up. You’re not over a minute faster than everyone else just by skill. Yes it takes a lot of skill, but you need the car to be able to do it.

    The fact of the matter was that his car was set up perfectly for the changing conditions, and was fortunate Ferrari’s gamble didn’t work out, as had the predicted rain after the first round of pit stops been a light shower, as some teams were predicting, the race would have gone a completely different way, with Hamilton wondering what to do to try and keep up with Kimi and Alonso (who I believe were the only 2 who elected to keep their tyres).

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