|Lewis Hamilton sprays the champagne|
In another great drive by the young Brit, Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim today in his McLaren-Mercedes, followed by Nelson Piquet in his Renault in second, and Felipe Massa in his Ferrari in third.
Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber finished fourth, followed by Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren in fifth, Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari in sixth, Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber in seventh and Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari in the final points paying position.
Lewis’s supreme win in the Santander German Grand Prix was the team’s first at Hockenheim in a decade, marking 10 years since Mika Häkkinen won in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13 in 1998.
After 67 laps (308.9km), Lewis finished 5.5sec ahead of Nelson Piquet (Renault) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari). Heikki Kovalainen, whose race was disrupted by the Safety Car, finished fifth. Both Lewis and Heikki ran two-stop strategies, Lewis pitting on laps 18 (9.0sec) and 50 (6.6sec); Heikki pitted on lap 21 (9.2sec) and 38 (8.3sec).
“I nailed it this afternoon: when the team told me I had to build a 23-second gap in just seven laps, I knew I had to drive over the limit – and I did. But I knew we had the best car this weekend and felt comfortable pushing hard to make up the gap," said Hamilton.
"In the final stint, I had to work for today’s win – when the Safety Car came out, I questioned whether I should pit but I trusted the team to make the best decision on strategy. It didn’t quite work out – but I knew we had the pace in the car to keep pushing and want to say a big thank-you to Heikki, who realized I was quicker.
"I was able to slipstream past Felipe and then thought my work was done; then I had to do it all again to get past Nelson. But I made a couple of textbook moves to get past them both. Everybody in this team has worked so hard to make this victory happen. We mustn’t grow complacent but must feel assured that our efforts are being rewarded. We couldn’t have asked for more today.”
As the Formula 1 World Championship commences its second half, Lewis now leads the series with 58 points. He lies ahead of Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa (54 points) and Kimi Räikkönen (51). Heikki is sixth overall with 28 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is third with 86 points; Ferrari leads with 105 points.
No rival could match Lewis Hamilton's pace, as he secured his second consecutive win and established a four-point lead in the drivers' championship. The only hiccup was the team's decision to leave him on the track rather than pit under the safety car, meaning the dominant Briton had to pass teammate Heikki Kovalainen, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and surprise leader Nelson Piquet's Renault. Heikki Kovalainen finished 12 seconds down the road in fifth. "My speed was not good enough and I couldn't make the tires work," the Finn said, but he was lauded by Hamilton and team boss Ron Dennis for being "super-cooperative" (Dennis' words) when Hamilton needed to pass him.
Nelson Piquet - having dropped out in Q1 on Saturday - finished an astounding second in the race, the Brazilian rookie the admittedly lucky beneficiary of the safety car period, whose timing coincided perfectly with his one-stop strategy. "I knew that Lewis was much faster than me, so I did not want to take any pointless risks," said Piquet, explaining the moment when he lost the lead of the race. There was no such luck for Fernando Alonso, who finished 11th.
A poor weekend for Ferrari - which will surely be described as a "crisis" by the Italian press - as Massa was blown away in the first stint by Hamilton, and even challenged amid brake problems in the closing stages by Nick Heidfeld's BMW-Sauber. "I didn't have the car to fight," Massa said. Kimi Raikkonen was off-color all weekend, and his sixth place, from sixth on the grid, leaves him seven points adrift for the drivers' title chase. "We were too slow and we have to understand the reason why," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.
An unhappy Robert Kubica described his car as often "miles too slow" on Sunday, and he finished seventh and falls ten points shy of Hamilton's championship lead. "There is some work for us to do to get back to the front of the grid," said team boss Mario Theissen.
Sebastian Vettel capped his sterling home weekend with the final point, following a late-race mistake by Toyota's Jarno Trulli. Sebastien Bourdais, 12th, lost time when he had to queue in the pits behind Vettel during the safety car period. "I am happy in terms of the pace I could run," he nonetheless said.
Timo Glock will spend the night in hospital after his violent backwards crash against the concrete pitlane wall, but the German is otherwise not hurt. The team is investigating the cause of the crash, with replays showing a broken rear suspension as he lost control in the last corner. Jarno Trulli was clinging to a points finish in the closing stages when he made a mistake and was passed by Vettel.
No points, with Nico Rosberg tenth and Kazuki Nakajima just 15th.
Mark Webber's oil leak, caused by the debris of Glock's crash, was his first mechanical retirement of the year. David Coulthard finished 13th, following a poor first lap and a collision later in the race with fellow veteran Rubens Barrichello (Honda).
Giancarlo Fisichella (14th) and Adrian Sutil (16th) each beat a rival home -- Nakajima for Fisichella, and Honda's Jenson Button for Sutil. Fisichella, however, received a 25-second penalty for unlapping himself under the safety car at the wrong time, which demotes him to last.
Button was the only lapped car and dead last at the checkered flag, but promoted thanks to Fisichella's post-race penalty. "We weren't very quick today," team boss Ross Brawn admitted plainly. Rubens Barrichello retired with damage following his crash with Coulthard.
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