Hamilton takes dominant home victory

Lewis Hamilton got his world championship challenge back on track with an outstanding home victory in challenging conditions

Hamilton takes dominant home victory

The McLaren driver coped with constantly fluctuating levels of rain to dominate the British Grand Prix, eventually winning by over a minute and moving back into the joint points lead.

Nick Heidfeld took his third podium of the year in second, ahead of the sensational Rubens Barrichello, who gambled on a mid-race stint on extreme wets to take his first podium in his three seasons with Honda.

Kimi Raikkonen only managed fourth for Ferrari, ahead of pole-sitter Heikki Kovalainen, as both fell back in the rain, while Felipe Massa was the final finishers after spinning many times.

Hamilton immediately charged towards the front when the race started, sweeping past Raikkonen and Mark Webber off the line, and then going side by side with teammate Kovalainen through Copse.

It looked like Hamilton was edging ahead, but Kovalainen braved it out on the outside, with slight contact between the pair and a wild slide from the leader as he fended his teammate off.

Webber's slow start dropped him down to fourth behind Raikkonen, and worse was to follow when the Red Bull spun on the exit of Becketts and fell to the tail of the field.

The Australian was far from the only person to slip up on the first lap, with Massa rotating his Ferrari on the way out of Abbey (the first of five spins for the pre-race championship leader), and David Coulthard sliding into Sebastian Vettel at Priory and taking both the Red Bull and the Toro Rosso out.

Hamilton remained glued to Kovalainen's tail and dived ahead into Stowe on the fifth lap. Kovalainen would lose second to Raikkonen soon afterwards, when he had a quick spin at Abbey and allowed the closely-following Ferrari to easily slip past.

Although Hamilton established a five-second lead over Raikkonen, as the track began to dry it was the Ferrari that showed the better pace, and the world champion started to take up to one second per lap out of the leader's advantage.

The McLaren and Ferrari pitted in unison at the end of lap 21, with Hamilton just getting out ahead of Raikkonen. While Ferrari decided to leave Raikkonen's existing set of intermediate wets on in the expectation that the track would soon be completely dry, Hamilton switched to a brand new set.

It was McLaren who were proved right, as a few laps after the stops the rain returned with a vengeance.

Those on worn intermediates struggled desperately to find any grip on the increasingly wet track, while Hamilton benefited from the extra grip of his fresh tyres to pull out a huge lead as Raikkonen lost up to eight seconds per lap.

At this point BMW burst into contention after a quiet start, with Heidfeld not only picking up his pace as the track got wetter, but producing some fine passes.

First the German drove around the outside of Timo Glock at Luffield then accelerated past Fernando Alonso on the exit of the corner moments later to take fourth.

Then Heidfeld quickly closed in on the battling Raikkonen and Kovalainen, and as the McLaren eased past the Ferrari through Woodcote, Heidfeld got a better run and swept past both to take second.

The rain then increased even more after half-distance, and Honda - whose drivers had used their renowned wet weather skills to edge into the points early on - decided to switch to the extreme wet tyres.

These proved extremely effective, with Barrichello lapping as much as 17 seconds per lap quicker while conditions were at their worst.

Button was even quicker, until going off the road and retiring, but Barrichello scythed through the field, gaining positions with ease.

With the rain stopping again soon afterwards, the front-runners all decided to stay with intermediates at their final stops, but Barrichello made the most of his short-lived advantage and charged right up to second.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, a fuel rig problem at his pitstop meant he would have to stop again on lap 46, but he had pulled so far clear of the midfield pack that he was able to rejoin in third behind Heidfeld.

At the front, Hamilton continued to extend his lead no matter what the weather did, and by the flag he was over a minute clear of Heidfeld and Barrichello - who were remarkably the only men on the same lap.

Despite tumbling down the order on his worn intermediates, and then spinning twice even on new tyres, Raikkonen fought back to fourth ahead of Kovalainen, who was several seconds off the pace in the wettest conditions, and Alonso.

The Renault had also stayed on worn intermediates too long and lost positions, but an early final stop and strong pace thereafter brought him back into contention. Despite Alonso's most dogged efforts, he could not hold off Raikkonen and Kovalainen at the end and slipped to sixth.

After recovering from a few trips off the road, Kazuki Nakajima drove another impressive race to score again for Williams in eigth, just behind Alonso and Jarno Trulli, who had been as high as third for Toyota before his final stop.

His teammate Timo Glock had also been set for points after an early charge, only to spin several times in the closing stages.

Nico Rosberg might have made similar progress to Barrichello on extreme wet tyres had he not lost his front wing on the back of Glock, leaving him ninth, while Webber was only able to recover to 10th, having notched up another two spins by the flag.

Massa's series of errors meant he was the final finisher, behind Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso) and Glock.

Robert Kubica looked set to move back into the points lead as he followed Heidfeld's mid-race charge and got as high as third, only to later spin into the Abbey gravel when the rain increased, by which time he was down to seventh following his final stop.

Nelson Piquet also crashed out of a promising position at the same spot, losing a potential fourth place when he aquaplaned into the gravel on lap 35.

Both Force Indias ended up in the gravel too. Adrian Sutil flew through the midfield early on, but then almost wiped out Bourdais when he hit standing water and had a spectacular spin across the Abbey chicane. Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella spun out at Becketts while being lapped by Hamilton.

The result creates another remarkable tie at the top of the championship, with Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen all now sharing the joint lead on 48 points just after the halfway point of the season.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The British Grand Prix
Silverstone, Britain;
60 laps; 308.355km;
Weather: Wet.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1h39:09.440
 2.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber            (B)  +  1:08.577
 3.  Barrichello   Honda                 (B)  +  1:22.273
 4.  Raikkonen     Ferrari               (B)  +     1 lap
 5.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  +     1 lap
 6.  Alonso        Renault               (B)  +     1 lap
 7.  Trulli        Toyota                (B)  +     1 lap
 8.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota       (B)  +     1 lap
 9.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota       (B)  +     1 lap
10.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  +     1 lap
11.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  +     1 lap
12.  Glock         Toyota                (B)  +     1 lap
13.  Massa         Ferrari               (B)  +    2 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:32.150

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                      On lap
Kubica        BMW Sauber            (B)    40
Button        Honda                 (B)    39
Piquet        Renault               (B)    36
Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari   (B)    17
Sutil         Force India-Ferrari   (B)    11
Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)    1
Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault      (B)    1


World Championship standings, round 9:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Hamilton      48        1.  Ferrari                96
 2.  Raikkonen     48        2.  BMW Sauber             82
 3.  Massa         48        3.  McLaren-Mercedes       72
 4.  Kubica        46        4.  Toyota                 25
 5.  Heidfeld      36        5.  Red Bull-Renault       24
 6.  Kovalainen    24        6.  Williams-Toyota        16
 7.  Trulli        20        7.  Renault                15
 8.  Webber        18        8.  Honda                  14
 9.  Alonso        13        9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari      7
10.  Barrichello   11       
11.  Rosberg        8       
12.  Nakajima       8       
13.  Coulthard      6       
14.  Vettel         5       
15.  Glock          5       
16.  Button         3       
17.  Piquet         2       
18.  Bourdais       2       
       
All timing unofficial
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