The first half of the season ended in dramatic style at Silverstone, as the rain played a significant effect on the outcome of the race. The British Grand Prix was won with panache by Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Mercedes, but for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro it was not the best of days, with Kimi Raikkonen salvaging fourth place and Felipe Massa down in thirteenth spot, both men suffering lack of grip in the slippery conditions.
"I am disappointed, but I am equally aware that things could have been much worse,” said Kimi Raikkonen at the finish. “We had the possibility to win the race but we made a mistake at the first pit stop, keeping the same set of tyres, because we expected the track conditions to improve. It was a joint decision: we are a team and we win or lose together. Things are not going too well for me at the moment, given all that happened in the last few races, but I am leading the championship, even if it is on equal terms with Felipe and Lewis. We know we have a great potential, but we have to put everything in place to get the most out of it."
Felipe Massa has no plans to remember his British excursion.
"This Silverstone weekend is one to be wiped out,” said Massa. On Friday I had an accident, yesterday there was the problem in qualifying and today a series of mistakes at all levels. We have to look ahead, because there is still a very long way to go in the championship and once again, we've seen that it only takes one result to turn the situation around. After nine races I am in the lead in the classification and I have every chance to fight for the title all the way to the end. Today, I could hardly keep the car in a straight line and it was always very difficult to drive. Only after the last pit stop did things improve a bit, but by then I was a long way back. We have to do a good job in the forthcoming Hockenheim test to be as well prepared as possible for the German Grand Prix that takes place on the same track."
Proving how close this season's racing has been the Drivers' Championship now sees a three way tie at the top of the table between the two Ferrari men and Lewis Hamilton. The Scuderia continues to top the Constructors' table, fourteen points ahead of BMW.
Inevitably the rain arrived on race morning and the track was wet for the start, although it was drying as the cars formed up on the grid, with Kimi Raikkonen in third spot and his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate, Felipe Massa ninth. There were 19 cars on the grid, all of them on the normal Bridgestone intermediate rain tyre, with Nico Rosberg starting from pit lane in the Williams.
At the start, Hamilton came through from fourth to lead for a moment but from pole, McLaren team-mate Kovalainen regained the advantage, with Kimi third. From second place, Mark Webber got a poor start and then spun, as did Massa, struggling with a lack of grip, but he continued, at the back with Webber. Vettel and Coulthard spun off together into the gravel. The order as they started lap 3 was Kovalainen and Hamilton in the McLarens, Raikkonen, Heidfeld (BMW) Alonso and Piquet (Renault) Trulli (Toyota,) Kubica (BMW,) Glock (Toyota) Barrichello and Button (Honda) Sutil (Force India,) Bourdais (Toro Rosso,) Nakajima (Williams) Fisichella (Force India,) Rosberg (Williams,) Webber (Red Bull Racing) and Massa nineteenth and last.
On lap 5, Hamilton went past his team-mate to take the lead. On lap 6, the gap between Kovalainen and fellow countryman Raikkonen was 1.5 seconds and in eighteenth place, Massa was 48 seconds off the leader. Lap 8 and the gap between the Finns had grown to 1.9. Kimi inherited second when Kovalainen spun on lap 9, while most of the overtaking at this point came courtesy of front row starter Webber, who after his spin to the back of the field had moved up to 12th on lap 9 of the sixty lap race. By lap 18, Kimi was 2.3 seconds behind the English McLaren man, with a comfortable 11.7 second cushion to Kovalainen. The pit stops began on lap 18, with Webber coming in from tenth, followed by Kovalainen. Alonso was in from third on lap 20, by which time Kimi was under a second behind Hamilton. Then the two leaders came in together on 21, Kimi stopped for 7.5 and Hamilton 8 seconds, with no change in position as they rejoined. However, like some other teams, the Scuderia had opted to keep its drivers on the same sets of tyres, making no changes and only refuelling. Massa came in next time round for an 8.1 stop, with Heidfeld pitting from third. Piquet had moved up to fourth before refuelling. Raikkonen having opted to stay on the same set of tyres was suffering and lapping at least two seconds slower than Hamilton and was 15.1 seconds down as the rain got much heavier. The gap on 26 was now 21.8. As they began lap 27, Kovalainen was lining up to pass Kimi, but they were both surprised by Heidfeld who took both of them in a daring move to go second behind Hamilton.
At half distance, (lap 30) the order was Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Piquet, Kubica, Barrichello, Glock, Trulli, Alonso in tenth, Button, Rosberg, Nakajima, Massa, fourteenth, Webber and Bourdais (sixteenth and last.) Kimi pitted for again at this point, taking on fresh intermediates. On lap 35, with Kimi in 10th, the rain intensified and the intermediate tyres were struggling to clear the water. Piquet was one of the first casualties to spin followed by Hamilton and Kubica on lap 37. The lap times had generally dropped by 14 seconds. Massa aquaplaned off on the straight. Raikkonen also spun off but continued. Hamilton pitted on lap 38 for a second time, the team fitting intermediates again. Second placed Heidfeld then came in also fitting intermediates.
With 20 laps remaining, the order was now Hamilton, 36 seconds ahead of Heidfeld, followed by Trulli, Alonso, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Kubica, Raikkonen, Glock, with Rosberg rounding off the top ten. Massa was fifteenth. Barrichello, on extreme wets was the quickest man on track. On lap 42 he dispensed with Heidfeld to go second. Round lap 45, Kimi was closing on Kovalainen in sixth. As the track began to dry again, Barrichello pitted again from second to switch to intermediates. Massa's bad day did not improve and he survived yet another spin on lap 48 and then again one lap later. As Kovalainen spun, Alonso and Kimi both got past so that the Ferrari man was now fifth with ten laps to go. Kimi then began closing on the Renault man on lap 51, as Massa made a final pit stop. However, race leader Hamilton lapped Kimi on lap 51 which saw the gap between the Renault and Ferrari grow a bit. Kimi quickly made up the gap and even got alongside Alonso for a moment and eventually got past to move up to fourth. With three laps remaining, pole man Kovalainen also dispensed with the Spaniard to go fifth.
The result at the flag was therefore, Hamilton the winner after an impressive drive, with Heidfeld second, Barrichello giving Honda their first podium of the year, Kimi fourth, Kovalainen fifth, Alonso sixth, Trulli seventh and Nakajima eighth. Felipe crossed the line in thirteenth place.
"A Sunday to forget as quickly as possible in terms of the result, although we must remember certain elements of this weekend, as there were mistakes made that we cannot afford to repeat,” said Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari Team Director. “We could have won this race with Kimi but we made a key mistake at the first pit stop, choosing to stay on the same set of tyres. The rain did not ease off and lasted longer and our drivers - Felipe had also gone for the same choice - found themselves in difficulty. With hindsight it's easy to say we should have changed tyres, but Formula 1 is not an exact science: sometimes strategic choices pay off and sometimes they don't. All the same, we have to admit that, this weekend, we did not operate to our usual standard. We made mistakes at every level and even our performance did not match our expectations and now we have to work out why, but calmly without panicking. We have reached the mid-point of the season: both our drivers are on equal points in the lead with one other driver in the Drivers' classification and we head the Constructors' Championship. We have lost a few opportunities to pick up a greater number of points, but we always knew this would be a very closely contested championship. Now we will concentrate on the coming rounds and will try and do better."
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