Lewis Hamilton Has Back-to-Back Victories at Hockenheim
June hadn’t been a great month for Lewis Hamilton. With no points in the last two grand prix, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, and BMW’s Robert Kubica had started to pull away from Hamilton in the drivers championship.
Victory Silverstone was the perfect way to silence the critics and claw his way back into contention for that first world championship. Hamilton and the McLaren team were full of confidence coming into Saturday's qualifying. With Hamilton and teammate Heikki Kovalainen setting the pace in Q1 and Q2, McLaren had every reason to feel that confidence.
Even with tough competition from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa it was Lewis Hamilton who was too fast and too talented and took pole position to lead the way at Sunday's grand prix.
It looked to be business as usual for Hamilton at Hockenheim as he got off to a very good start, accumulating a three-second lead inside the first 10 laps. The chasing pack started to fall further behind as two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, and Kimi Raikkonen struggled to find the pace.
Jarno Trulli was going very well in the Toyota and Massa looked to be bouncing back well from the disappointment of Silverstone in the early stint of the grand prix.
But in lap 35 disaster struck for Hamilton. Rear suspension failure for Timo Glock in the other Toyota resulted in a very nasty crash into the wall. The safety car was deployed and the 11-second lead Hamilton once had was cut to nothing.
Still in the lead, Hamilton had Massa and the surprise of the grand prix Nelson Piquet in the Renault breathing down his neck. Once the track was clear and the safety car returned to the pits every driver decided to pit, change tyres, and refuel.
That is, with the exception of Piquet who was already fueled to the end of the grand prix from an earlier pit stop and race leader Hamilton who had also decided to drive on.
By this time Piquet had found himself in P2, having moved up from P17 where he'd begun the grand prix. Massa was still in third and Kovalainen in P4.
Hamilton now needed to push hard. He no longer had the 11-second safety net and would inevitably have to pit again. Not refueling after the safety car had returned to the pits was a gamble that had backfired.
With 16 laps to go Hamilton pitted to refuel. The gamble had cost Hamilton the lead and would see him fall five places to P5 behind teammate Kovalainen. But without much of a fight from Kovalainen, Hamilton easily took fourth place and started to hunt down Massa in the Ferrari.
With 11 laps to go Piquet led the German Grand Prix and was on course for Renault's first podium finish of the season. But Hamilton was now closing the gap on Massa who was struggling to find the pace he had set in the first two stints. Hamilton saw his opportunity at the hairpin, passed Massa, and was very much in contention for back-to-back victories.
Inevitably the speed of the McLaren was too much for Piquet, and Hamilton regained the lead much to the relief of the McLaren team. So it was to be Lewis Hamilton who claimed victory at Hockenheim and opened a four-point gap in the drivers championship ahead of Massa who put the disappointment of Silverstone behind him and finished third.
A delighted Piquet joined Hamilton and Massa on the podium after a fantastic drive to finish second. But for Raikkonen and Kubica sixth and seventh respectively, it was not a good weekend for the Ferrari and BMW drivers.
For Lewis Hamilton, it was a thrilling grand prix with a thrilling end result.
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