Hamilton triumphs in rain-affected British GP

July 6th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Silverstone, (England), July 6 (DPA) Britain’s Lewis Hamilton triumphed in his home Grand Prix in commanding style in a rain-affected race at Silverstone Sunday. The McLaren-Mercedes driver took the chequered flag more than 65 seconds ahead of Nick Heidfeld of Germany in a BMW-Sauber.

Hamilton had started from fourth position but led after the fourth lap and benefited from a near-perfect tyre-change strategy, while chief rivals Ferrari floundered badly in the rain.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen had to make do with fourth behind Rubens Barrichello in a Honda, while Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, the overall leader before the race, was out of the points after spinning a total of six times.

“Thank you so much guys. I know it’s been a tough weekend but we pulled it together when it mattered. Oh my god, we did it,” Hamilton said over the team radio after crossing the line.

The result leaves Massa, Raikkonen and Hamilton equal on 48 points in the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton got off to a tremendous start, getting ahead of Raikkonen and Mark Webber on the first corner and almost past team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who was starting for the first time from pole.

The wheels of the two McLarens touched, but the Finn stayed in front, only to concede to Hamilton four laps later.

Red Bull driver Webber meanwhile threw away his qualifying advantage by spinning, while Massa twice lost control of his Ferrari in the early laps to fall right back.

Britain’s David Coulthard in a Red Bull, in his last British Grand Prix, was an early casualty when he span into the gravel along with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel in a Toro Rosso.

Hamilton built up a four-second lead over world champion Raikkonen who benefited from a spin by Kovalainen to move second, but the Finn gradually whittled away the lead.

Both came into the pits at the same time after 20 laps, with McLaren changing Hamilton’s tyres while Ferrari retained Raikkonen’s.

The decision proved decisive when rain fell almost immediately afterwards, allowing Hamilton to gain more than five seconds a lap. Raikkonen lasted 10 laps in which he fell back to fourth, until he was forced to go back into the pits to correct the mistake.

Heidfeld, who had changed tyres, moved second, overtaking Kovalainen and Raikkonen in one move, while team-mate Kubica later also got past Kovalainen to go third.

Conditions worsened with 24 laps remaining when a heavy shower caused aquaplaning trouble for all drivers. Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen twice, Kubica and Webber all span but managed to stay in the race.

Hamilton came in for intermediate wet tyres, as did Heidfeld and Kubica, but the Pole lasted only two more laps before shooting off the track into the gravel.

With the weather clearing, Hamilton was able to increase his lead over Heidfeld to more than 40 seconds.

The slowing Germany had to make way for Barrichello who had benefited from a decision to switch to wets, but the Brazilian had to make a fuel change and slipped back to third.

By then Hamilton was in a league of his own, increasing his lead to more than a minute and overlapping Alonso and Raikkonen in a further sign of his dominance.

Team-mate Kovalainen took fifth position, with Alonso sixth, Jarno Trulli in a Toyota seventh and Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams eighth.

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