MCLAREN'S Lewis Hamilton blew away his rivals to win a wet and chaotic British Grand Prix yesterday and storm back to the top of the Formula One standings. Hamilton, the first British winner at Silverstone since David Coulthard in 2000, was utterly dominant as he lapped all but second-placed Nick Heidfeld in a BMW Sauber and the Honda of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
The 23-year-old's third win of the season put him level on 48 points with Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa, who was 13th and last after spinning five times on the sodden track, and world champion Kimi Raikkonen. To the delight of the home fans, Hamilton took the chequered flag a staggering 68.5 seconds ahead of Heidfeld, an age in Formula One terms. Adding to the sense of astonishment, the evergreen Barrichello clambered on to the podium for the first time since 2005 to almost double Honda's season points tally.
In the most intense title battle in years, BMW Sauber's Polish title contender Robert Kubica failed to finish but was still only two points behind the top trio at the halfway stage of the season. Hamilton's seventh win in just 26 starts was the perfect riposte to the critics who had suggested he was feeling the pressure of fame and fortune after two error-laden races in Canada and France. “It s definitely by far the best victory I've ever had, it was one of the toughest races I've ever done,” Hamilton said.
“When I was out there I was thinking this would definitely go down as the best race I've ever won. I could see the crowd beginning to stand up and I was praying ‘just keep it on the track, just finish.’ I just wanted to get it round.” Raikkonen, last year's winner at Silverstone, finished fourth. McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen had a disappointing race after starting on pole for the first time and came home fifth ahead of Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso. Italian Jarno Trulli was seventh for Toyota with Kazuki Nakajima taking the final point for Williams.
Hamilton and Raikkonen pitted together at the end of lap 21, a stop that proved decisive for the Briton and devastating for the champion. While Hamilton refuelled and switched to a fresh set of intermediates, Ferrari kept Raikkonen on his existing tyres in the mistaken expectation that the rain would ease off. The two had been nose-to-tail leaving the pits but the McLaren driver vanished into the spray, lapping nearly five seconds quicker than Raikkonen to build up a lead of 29 seconds by lap 27. With Raikkonen struggling, the BMW Saubers seized the chance with Heidfeld taking two Finns in one go as Kovalainen passed Raikkonen and left the door open for the German to sweep past both on lap 27. Team-mate Kubica passed Renault's Nelson Piquet, Raikkonen and Kovalainen in quick succession to move into third place. The Pole's hopes of regaining the championship lead evaporated 20 laps from the end when he spun into the gravel. - Reuters - The STaR ONLiNe
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