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.

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

  1. gogogadget said on 7th July 2008, 6:09

    Number 38:

    I can appreciate your point of view but I respectfully disagree. Chaos, in any sport, creates great unknowns, and it is through these circumstances that we see who can truly perform under difficult situations. As much as I hate to say it, Hamilton showed up a lot of his critics by his superb drive, while Kovy, Webber, and Massa showed us they still lack that extra something.

    A wet race undoubtedly becomes a race of attrition, but drama does make for great TV, and at the end of the day without viewer interest it’ll be tough for F1 to expand beyond the hardcore enthusiast.

    I don’t think this an issue between DRIVERS and FANS. I’m sure there are many fans here who appreciate the immense skills of these drivers in the dry, and undoubtedly appreciate their skills even more when they can show it off in the wet.

  2. Brett M said on 7th July 2008, 6:09

    Come on AndyWolf lets not get personal….
    I agree with you but there is no need to state the obvious.
    Great race by LH, NH and great strategy by Honda and RB for keeping the car out of the wall.
    Has any one seen any comments by Mark Webber as to his 1st lap spin. He may have browned his pants seeing the field appear and dissapear thru the spray as the in car showed

  3. Rob R. said on 7th July 2008, 6:37

    I’m a staunch Hamilton hater, and even I have to acknowledge the quality his performance….he drove a very good race. Not a “Great” or “legendary” race. Let’s not get carried away. As cgmasson pointed out, we could have seen a potentially great fight between Hamilton and Raikkonen, but we were robbed of that by Ferrari’s strategists (or lack thereof).

    And if Honda’s fuel rig hadn’t malfunctioned (*not* Barrichello’s fault), who knows? Right now we could have been discussing Hamilton finishing 2nd behind a 36-year-old, backmarker who everybody expects will be headed to the retirement home next year…

    Congratulations to Lewis and McLaren, but let’s try to keep things in perspective.

  4. Jean said on 7th July 2008, 7:16

    An inspiring drive by Lewis. Amazing car control , it made his car look as if it still had traction control compared to Massa’s which looked like his car was running “non-grip super-slip” tyres. I wish Ferrari had replaced Kimi’s tyres for new inters at the 1st stop , even as some above point out that it was a hugely exciting race , no one could challenge Lewis after that , and before the first stop , Kimi had shown he could have been up to it. But that happens. Back to Massa , I’m a bit confused . In Monaco (similar conditions) he was as good as Lewis , let’s face it , both had one small mistake , but otherwise drove superbly. Here at Silverstone , Lewis made Massa look like an amateur ? Maybe as Ross Brawn pointed out in interview with Brundle , when the car’s hooked up , it’s easy to gain a 7 sec. advantage to one that’s not.

  5. Jian said on 7th July 2008, 7:16

    Rob R: the same thing could be said when Hamilton is making mistakes and all the bashers spring out of their caves. For example: wasn’t he punished he would have challenged for a podium (maybe even 2:nd place with Kimis troubles, see Heikkis 4th as benchmark) in Magny Cours from 13th place. These “whatifs” work both ways. Both in good and bad times we should keep things in perspective but as sport fans, sometimes its more fun not to;)

  6. Jeanette said on 7th July 2008, 7:17

    Bravo Hamilton…!
    I hope this season 2008 your mine…
    From Indo I support u with pray…
    God bless u

  7. Abhishek said on 7th July 2008, 7:59

    TopGear blog says:

    The pass Hamilton eventually pulled on his team-mate; it was one of those ‘I’m coming through, mate’ jobs in the mould of Ayrton Senna.

  8. Alonso follower said on 7th July 2008, 8:02

    As an Alonso supporter, I know I should not be saying this to my Spanish peers, but it has to be reckoned that Hamilton did a fantastic race and the McLaren team also guessed the correct strategy while all other teams did not so well. If Hamilton and the team perform like this during the rest of the season, Ferrari can start to worry. Unfortunately for McLaren fans, I doubt that Lewis can keep his nerves straight.

    Disappointed with Ferrari, specially with Massa, it’s difficult to understand how the best car with the some of the best drivers can deliver so little.

    Oh, and I’m sorry for Kubica, he really deserved more.

  9. Jian said on 7th July 2008, 8:27

    If Massa could finish a Sunday race like that I look forward to what he can do in a Friday disco to this tune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaGS3Uts704

  10. DG said on 7th July 2008, 8:35

    On the excitement factor – it wasn’t so much the rain, as the unpredicability of the rain – do you start on Wets or Full Wets? Do you change in the Pit Stops or do you carry on? How good is your weather forecast? Where is the track wet? Surely that is what made the difference between the Hammys, the Rubies and the Massas on Sunday!
    And I have to agree with all the previous posts, its about time the Red Cars had some aggro for their apparent lack of control, in Qualifying and the race. Kimi deserved much better support, and I do think we are going have a few weeks of Massa funk – I would love to listen to the shouting match at Marinello today!
    Ross Brawn proved his worth at Honda, although its a great shame Jenson and DC were under par (very under par in DCs case!)

  11. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 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.

  12. Jolene said on 7th July 2008, 9:29

    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.

  13. Twister27 said on 7th July 2008, 9:33

    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!

  14. Sush said on 7th July 2008, 9:36

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

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

  15. Scott Joslin said on 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)

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