Lewis Hamilton Leads Championship

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Lewis Hamilton moved into a four-point championship lead after a brilliant victory in the German Grand Prix.

Oakley’s Lewis Hamilton led from the start but a comfortable win was put in doubt by his team’s decision not to pit him during a safety car period. Hamilton dropped to fifth when he did finally stop under racing conditions. But team-mate Heikki Kovalainen let the Englishman by, and Hamilton was able to catch and pass Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and then Renault’s Nelson Piquet.

Team boss Ron Dennis admitted that McLaren had “got it a bit wrong”. He said the team did not expect the safety car to stay out as long as it did following a heavy accident to Toyota’s Timo Glock, who crashed into the pit wall following what appeared to be a rear suspension failure.

McLaren thought Hamilton would have enough laps after the re-start to build a lead that was big enough to maintain his position.

The safer – and more sensible – option would have been to pit Hamilton during the safety car period – as nearly all the other leading teams did with their drivers.

As it turned out, Hamilton was only 10 seconds ahead of Massa’s fourth-placed Ferrari when he pitted on lap 50, about half what he would have needed to stay ahead.
But Hamilton quickly caught Massa, and passed the Ferrari on lap 57 when the Brazilian made it too easy for the McLaren driver.

Massa appeared to have the inside line into the hairpin covered, but he then went back to the outside, giving Hamilton the chance to take the position.Hamilton then quickly closed the two-second gap to Piquet and passed him in the same place, and in similar fashion, on lap 60.

“I would have preferred a comfortable afternoon out in front,” Hamilton said. "We had got off to a good start and had two decent stints and the team opted for me to stay out but I think I needed a 23-second gap in about seven laps so I don’t know how that would have worked out. For sure we will learn from this and move on. But we still had the best and quickest car this weekend and we came out on top. With Felipe, I saw I was a lot quicker than him. I knew I only had a small window to get past him because of my tyres but the great thing about this track is that you can follow people. So I got quite close to him – he matched my speed down my straight – it was difficult to get past him but he gave me plenty of room. I thought my work was done but I still had to get past Nelson. He put on a good battle but again it was very fair.

Piquet found himself in the lead because he was on a one-stop strategy, and he had just made his pit stop when the safety car was deployed after Glock’s crash on lap 36. He took the lead when first Hamilton and then BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld stopped.

But the novice was in no position to hold off the charging Hamilton in a much faster car. Piquet was, however, more than capable of holding off Massa, who was unable to catch the Renault before the end of the race.

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Date

July 22, 2008