Hamilton storms to victory

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory in the German Grand Prix and made up for a dubious strategy call under the safety car, to retake the lead and take the win in the closing stages of the race. Nelson Piquet Jr made the most of a one-stop strategy and safety car period to finish second ahead of Felipe Massa.

Hamilton had a strong start, cutting across Massa into turn one causing the Ferrari to come under pressure from Kovalainen into turn two. The Brazilian resisted and the trio fell into their starting order at the end of lap one. Meanwhile Kubica made a strong start to climb to fourth by the end of lap one ahead of Trulli, Alonso and Raikkonen down to seventh. 

On lap three Fernando Alonso tried a move down the inside of Trulli who wasn't having any of it, closing the door firmly. Alonso, forced to go defensive lost sixth to Raikkonen in turn two. 

By lap six Hamilton had built a lead of 4.6s over Massa while Trulli, Raikkonen and Alonso continued to squabble over fifth, sixth and seventh. By lap 10 his lead had grown to seven seconds and the McLaren driver looked untouchable. 
The British driver was the first to pit from an 11s lead on lap 18, followed in by BMW's Kubica. Hamilton had a moment in turn two and let Trulli past him. Hamilton looked like he was urgently trying to find a way past the Toyota, but to his fortune Trulli pitted at the end of the lap, followed by Alonso. Massa pitted on lap 20, and Kovalainen the lap after. 

Hamilton resumed the lead by 8.5s over Massa. Timo Glock was a surprise, staying out very late until lap 29 before pitting and rejoining in eighth, ahead of Alonso. 

At half race distance Hamilton led Massa by 11s ahead of Kovalainen, Kubica, Raikkonen, Trulli, Vettel, Glock, Alonso and Webber. 
On lap 35, just as everyone was beginning to doze off, Timo Glock suffered a right rear suspension failure on his Toyota on the exit of the final corner, pitching round and backwards into the pit wall at 140mph. The safety car was deployed as marshals removed scattered debris from the pit straight. 

Lap 38, as the pit lane was open, Felipe Massa led a stream of almost everyone else in for their second stops, while Hamilton remained in the lead. After the stops on lap 40 Hamilton officially led Heidfeld and Piquet who also did not pit. Massa was in fourth, just four seconds down the road. 

The race resumed on lap 41 with 26 laps to go and a lap later Kovalainen pulled a great move out to go round the outside of Kubica and take fifth. 

Lewis Hamilton began to build his lead again, but had to pit eventually on lap 50, rejoining in fifth, just behind Heikki Kovalainen. A quick radio call from the McLaren pit wall and Hamilton eased past Kovalainen with 16 laps to go as he tried to repair the damage of not pitting behind the safety car.

Heidfeld pitted on lap 53, rejoining behind Hamilton and ahead of Kovalainen. Hamilton meanwhile closed up to within two seconds of Felipe Massa as Nelson Piquet Jr inherited the lead, and was keeping a steady two-second gap over the Ferrari. 

Lap 56 and Hamilton put the pressure on Massa and passed him down the inside of the hairpin for second place. Meanwhile Piquet continued in the lead, but Hamilton was closing and on lap 59 pulled a repeat move on the Renault to retake the lead. 

Hamilton cruised home to the chequered flag and victory ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr and Felipe Massa. Hamilton's win takes him four points clear of Massa in the drivers' championship. Nick Heidfeld recovered from his poor qualifying to finish fourth ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen. Kubica and Vettel took the final points in seventh and eighth.