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Hamilton fights back to clinch Hockenheim win

Latest update : 2008-07-20

Lewis Hamilton is the sole leader of the F1 drivers' standings after clinching his second successive win and his fourth of the season in a thrilling German Grand Prix. The McLaren driver cruised home 5.5 seconds ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling German Grand Prix on Sunday to forge four points clear of Ferrari's Felipe Massa at the top of the Formula One championship.

Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet, who had started in 17th place on a one-stop strategy, finished an astonishing second for Renault after leading for six laps in the race of his life. Compatriot Massa was third.

Hamilton led from pole position at engine partners' Mercedes home track but the 23-year-old had to make an inspired fightback from fifth place with 16 laps remaining after a safety car interlude shook up his strategy.

"I didn't plan on doing that. I'd have much preferred an easy, comfortable afternoon out front," he said.

"Overall it was a very, very good weekend. It's got to be the best weekend up to now," added Hamilton. "I think that we're really on top of our game right now."

The victory was his second in a row, and eighth of his career, after a dominant performance in the wet at the previous British Grand Prix two weeks ago and made him the first driver to win four times this season.

Hamilton now has 58 points to Massa's 54. Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who started and finished sixth on Sunday, has 51.


MORE DIFFICULT

"Sorry that we made it a little bit more difficult for you," McLaren boss Ron Dennis told Hamilton on the radio after the Briton took the chequered flag in the Hockenheim sunshine.

"I wanted to give you the opportunity fo driving a great racing car."

The safety car was deployed on lap 36 after the Toyota of Germany's Timo Glock suffered a dramatic high-speed suspension failure and slammed into the concrete wall backwards at the entrance to the straight.

The driver was helped groggily from the wrecked car, with debris scattered across the track, and taken to the medical centre.

With the exception of Hamilton, the leaders all came in to refuel and change tyres when the pit lane opened.
When the McLaren driver then came in nine laps later, he found himself behind team mate Heikki Kovalainen, Massa, Piquet and Germany's Nick Heidfeld.

Heidfeld came in three laps later, leaving Piquet as the frontrunner, while Hamilton slipped past Kovalainen when the Finn obligingly ran wide.

Hamilton then barged his way past Massa 10 laps from the end and took Piquet with similar determination to hand Mercedes their first win at Hockenheim since double world champion Mika Hakkinen in 1998.

Piquet, who has been completely eclipsed this season by double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso, answered his critics with a fine drive under pressure.

Massa's appearance on the podium with him made it the first time two Brazilian drivers had stood in that position since Piquet's father and namesake joined the late Ayrton Senna in the top three in 1991.

Heidfeld was fourth for BMW-Sauber, ahead of Kovalainen and Raikkonen. Poland's Robert Kubica was seventh for BMW-Sauber with German Sebastian Vettel taking the final point for Toro Rosso.
 

Date created : 2008-07-20

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