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Race analysis - Hamilton excels as strategic errors cost Ferrari dear 07 Jul 2008

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 and Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 and David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB4 both spin off into retirement on lap 1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton may have recorded a dominant win at the British Grand Prix on Sunday, but behind him drivers from another six teams scored points, emphasising just how competitive the 2008 season has become, and how unpredictable the Silverstone race was.

Not only did BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld clinch his third second-place finish of the season but Honda were also celebrating, after enjoying their best result since Brazil 2006. For Ferrari, however, almost everything went wrong. We take a team-by-team look at the race…

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 32.817s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 33.130s, P5

Hamilton was simply in a class of his own once he had survived the opening corner brush with Kovalainen and then passed him at Becketts on Lap Five. He looked a little vulnerable as Raikkonen closed in before their first stops, but fresh intermediates enabled him to draw away as the rain came, and he was the only man capable of matching extreme wet-shod Rubens Barrichello at this crucial point. He never put a wheel wrong as he made up for his recent mistake in Canada and misfortune in France, and scored a brilliant victory that put him back in the joint lead of the championship. Kovalainen did a great job to save his car when Hamilton swiped it at Copse at the start, but suffered from graining rear tyres which robbed him of grip and consigned him to a fifth place that had to have been a deep disappointment to him after he started from his first pole position.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 32.719s, P2
Robert Kubica, 1m 33.539s, retired lap 40, spin

There was good and bad news for the German-Swiss team, which was at one stage on course for a double podium finish. Kubica blotted his copybook for the first time this year by aquaplaning into retirement, but Heidfeld starred with a strong drive and a great double pass on Raikkonen and Kovalainen and thoroughly deserved his (albeit distant) runner-up slot.

Rubens Barrichello, 1m 33.386s, P3
Jenson Button, 1m 33.376s, retired lap 39, spin

What a great race for Honda, with its first podium since Button’s third place in Brazil two years ago. And they owed it to Barrichello’s canny insistence not just on getting a set of extreme wets, but getting them on the lap he demanded them for his third stint. But for a slight glitch during that stop, he might even have beaten Heidfeld for second. As it was, he was the fastest man out there when the rain was at its worst, and the only one to pass Hamilton all race as he unlapped himself. Button should have been there with him, but hit standing water and aquaplaned off course.

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 32.150s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 33.257s, P13

Why on earth did Ferrari leave Raikkonen and Massa out on the same sets of intermediates after their first pit stops? Because they gambled that it wasn’t going to rain again. For the reds this was one of the races tailor made for Monday morning quarterbacking, and the decision seemed reasonable at the time. But it cost them dearly, and Raikkonen’s initial promising charge after Hamilton instead turned into a battle back to an eventual fourth place finish which ties him on points with his team mate and with the resurgent Hamilton. As for poor old Massa, this was nothing short of a disaster as he spun five times in all on his way to a 13th place finish.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 33.133s, P6
Nelson Piquet Jnr, 1m 33.203s, retired lap 36, spin

Alonso was happy enough with sixth place and more points for Renault, but used up his tyres at a fair old rate with an early charge, and later finished the race with the replacements worn almost to slicks. Piquet looked a reasonable bet for points, lapping little slower than Alonso, but dropped it at Club and did it permanently at Abbey the same lap.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 33.808s, P7
Timo Glock, 1m 34.610s, P12

Trulli was happy to take home two points after a tough race went better than qualifying had. Before the serious rain fell he looked like a podium contender, but later he complained of aquaplaning and lost time hand over fist. In hindsight, the team rued not switching to extreme wets, and he believed the podium could still have been possible had they done that. As it was, he snatched seventh from Nakajima on the last lap. Glock had several off-course adventures as he struggled on intermediates during the worst rain

Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 34.277s, P8
Nico Rosberg, 1m 34.797s, P9

This was another bad day for Williams, with Nakajima spinning and Rosberg doing yet another front wing after rear-ending Glock. Switching to extreme wets helped, however, and Nakajima took a point for eighth after a last-ditch attempt to pass Alonso resulted in a gap through which Trulli thrust his Toyota for seventh on the last lap.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 32.952s, P10
David Coulthard, no time, retired Lap One, accident

Webber threw away Red Bull’s chances of points when he spun exiting Chapel on the opening lap. He had other adventures too on his way to 10th place, but fourth fastest lap was an indication of the RB4’s potential this day. Compounding the misery, Coulthard crashed the sister car into Vettel on the first lap.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 33.367s, P11
Sebastian Vettel, no time, retired Lap One, accident

Toro Rosso lost their best hope when Coulthard took out Vettel on the opening lap. Bourdais fought initial understeer which ruined his STR3’s tyres, but switching to extreme wets was a good call that helped him to his eventual 11th-place finish.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 34.930s, retired Lap 27, spin
Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.160s, retired Lap 11, spin

Force India had another unhappy time, with both drivers making errors which put them off the road and into retirement.