- Jul 21, 2008
Breaking the tie: drivers' points leader determined at German Grand Prix
A stormy 2008 British Grand Prix had left a three-way tie for the drivers' championship in Formula 1, with Hamilton. Raikkonen and Massa all in a deadlock at 48 points. That made the German Grand Prix this past weekend, the tenth race on the F1 calendar, that much more important. Raikkonen said it was a "must win" race for him, and Massa and Hamilton no doubt felt the same way. In qualifying Hamilton kept up the momentum from the previous race by capturing pole position, followed closely by Massa, Kovalainen, and Trulli. Follow the jump for a race report and results.WARNING: Spoilers after the jump.
The first half of the race was completely uneventful. Hamilton steadily pulled away and it looked like he would cruise to an easy win with about a 12-second gap over Massa. Things changed, however, when the right rear suspension of Timo Glock's Toyota broke with 32 laps to go, bringing out the yellow flag and grouping all the cars together. When the pits opened up nearly everyone went in to get fuel, but strangely McLaren decided to keep Hamilton on track, possibly assuming he could create enough of a gap when the green flag came out to pit later in the race. Even though Hamilton steadily lapped faster than the rest of the field by one or two seconds, it wasn't enough and when he pitted with 17 laps to go, he rejoined the race in fourth place behind his teammate Heiki Kovalainen.
At this point Nick Heidfeld led the race, who also did not pit for fuel during the yellow flag, followed by Nelson Piquet, who had lucked out by pitting right as the safety car came out, and then Massa and Kovalainen. Hamilton quickly passed his teammate - almost too quickly - Heidfeld pitted for fuel soon after, leaving Piquet in the lead followed by Massa. Even at this point it seemed unlikely that Hamilton would be able to overtake both the Ferrari and the Renault, but he set forth on a blistering pace and quickly closed the gap between him and Massa. It was only a couple laps before the McLaren was ahead of the Ferrari, and by the time the commercial break was over Hamilton was all over the back of Piquet's Renault. With eight laps to go Hamilton made the pass for the lead and went on to an unchallenged win. It was truly an impressive victory, especially considering the commentators were saying it would be "nearly impossible" for him to win the race. Yet it took Hamilton just a little more than half the remaining laps to re-take the lead and go on to win by a large margin. It is his fourth win of the season and the eighth of his career. Hamilton now is the sole leader with 58 points, followed by Massa with 54, and Raikkonen with 51.