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Hamilton takes hard-fought win in German Grand Prix 20 Jul 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Second placed Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 arrives in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Fans in the grandstand.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton scored the fourth victory of his 2008 season here at Hockenheim on Sunday - and he did it the hard way. For the first 34 laps he ran away and hid from his pursuers, led by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, but then Timo Glock ran hard into the pit wall after the right-rear suspension of his Toyota appeared to fail, and all hell broke loose.

The safety car was deployed as the shards of debris were cleared, and the moment the pit lane opened there was a rush to refuel for the final stints. In came everyone, apart from Hamilton, BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld and Renault’s Nelson Piquet had just been in when Glock crashed.

Suddenly, the complexion of the race had changed totally, for Hamilton was still stuck behind the safety car and the rest had a clear run at him and a pit stop in hand. But his trump card was the presence of Heidfeld in second place and Piquet third, ahead of his sternest challenger, Massa.

By the 50th lap Hamilton had opened a lead of 15.7s over Massa in fourth place, but it was far from enough. He needed 23. As he finally refuelled he fell to fifth place, behind Heidfeld, Piquet, Massa and McLaren team mate Heikki Kovalainen.

Kovalainen soon succumbed, on lap 52. Then Heidfeld stopped to refuel on lap 53. So now it was Piquet leading, with Hamilton thirsting after Massa. Down came the gap, from just under four seconds to virtually nothing, and on the 57th lap the Brazilian fell prey to the Englishman as they braked for the hairpin. He fought back valiantly two corners later, but Hamilton was not in any mood to be denied, and now only Piquet stood between him and victory.

Lap by lap he hunted down his old GP2 adversary, until the inevitable happened, again at the hairpin. By the flag he was 5.5s clear, and four points ahead of a resigned Massa in the title stakes - 58 to 54.

Piquet clung on to the place fortune had gifted him - for the first half of the race he was down in 14th place - and Massa fended off Heidfeld in the closing stages to take the final podium position.

Kovalainen clung on for fifth ahead of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen, whose subdued sixth place earned him three points after he had overtaken BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica and left him third overall on 51 points. Kubica has 48, for fourth.

The final point went to Sebastian Vettel after a feisty run for Toro Rosso saw him see off the likes of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who were ninth and 11th after the latter spun at the hairpin late in the race. Nico Rosberg was 10th for Williams, embroiled in the fight late in the race.

Sebastien Bourdais was also close to Alonso by the finish in the second Toro Rosso, and the Frenchman was followed home by Red Bull’s David Coulthard, who made a poor start and later survived a brush with Rubens Barrichello which resulted in the Honda’s demise. Giancarlo Fisichella was 14th for Force India, ahead of Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Honda’s Jenson Button, who ran into mechanical trouble and finished last.

Mark Webber’s Red Bull lost its engine as the safety car was deployed, and Glock was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after his heavy backward impact with the pit wall, but is okay.

What had looked set to be a low key race literally exploded into life due to Glock’s crash and McLaren’s gamble in keeping Hamilton out when everyone else pitted. Luckily for McLaren, Hamilton had the ability to make sure the gamble paid off.