After an exciting race at the Shanghai International Circuit on the weekend, Lewis Hamilton goes on to the next leg of the Formula One Grand Prix Championship with a few more notches on his belt. Hopes are high that he’ll be able to clench the championship this year – a feat which is made even more special by the fact that it is exactly 50 years since the first British driver ever won the Formula One world title.
Lewis Hamilton is often considered to be the first ‘black’ driver in Formula One. Hence his winning this year’s world title would be yet another great accomplishment for British Formula One. Nevertheless a lot can happen between now and the end of the race and while the 23-year-old driver is currently in the lead, a similar lead in last years world title slipped between his fingers in the final races. While no one can predict what will happen in the last few championship races of the season, what is clear is that Hamilton absolutely dominated the Chinese Grand Prix from start to finish.
After world champion Kimi Raikkonen has slipped a bit too far down the standings, he has pledged to help Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in his bid to win the world title rather than waste time trying to recover. And that is exactly what he did by easing his pace and letting Massa gain a place during the last few laps of the race. However Hamilton was clearly in top form and it seemed nothing would give Massa the boost needed to overtake him and claim the winner’s trophy. Massa finished second but that doesn’t mean that McLaren driver Hamilton can rest on his laurels. He still needs a further four points to be sure that the world title will not slip through his fingers a second time.
While it may seem that Hamilton just had the better skill that day, it would seem instead that a lot was determined by the tires used by the Ferrari and McLaren teams and this probably affected the handling of the vehicles quite a lot during the race. McLaren chose to use hard tires, while Ferrari opted for softer tires. That seemed to give Hamilton the boost he needed – he launched off the starting grid, led cleanly into the first corner and was 1.1 seconds ahead of competitor cars by the end of the first lap. It took ten laps just for the Ferrari team to gain on him. It was a mistake that Ferrari is unlikely to make again. It is now just a matter of time before the 2008 World Champion is crowned and all eyes are on Hamilton and Massa as they compete for top honors.
The latest Grand Prix race held on Sunday (28/09/2008) was packed with never-before-seen excitement and drama. Not only was this the first Grand Prix to take place in the colorful country of Singapore, but it was also the first time a Formula One race has ever taken place at night. In the end the outcome was anything but predictable and the race was wildly exciting for fans watching from all over the world.
A number of the drivers may have been nervous about hitting the racetrack at night, fearful that bad visibility could’ve caused some nasty collisions. But in the end it seems that the demanding Marina Park circuit had enough spotlights to ensure that the drivers could see as clear as day. The excitement of the race was further emphasized by showers of sparks created by titanium skid plates as the cars made their way around the circuit. Initially it seemed Felipe Massa might claim the winner’s trophy yet again. He led from pole early on in the race and was driving well. Unfortunately his race was ruined at the start of the 20th lap when he pitted. The Brazilian was so eager to get back out on the track that he pulled away prematurely, taking the fuel rig and hose with him. By the time he was extricated from the situation by his crew, he had dropped to 18th place. To make matters worse, he was also given a drive-through penalty for his â€˜unsafe release from a pit stop’, leaving many to wonder if he’d ever make it out last place. In the end he managed to climb up the grid a bit and finish in 13th place.
In the end it was Renault’s Fernando Alonso who took the victory, though even he hadn’t foreseen the victory. He started at 15th on the grid after a fuel pump failure during the qualifying rounds and his prospects looked grim. However, he managed to benefit from an early safety car period early in the race and from there it wasn’t long before he catapulted himself into the lead. The victory marks his 20th career win. It is also the first time that Alonso has won since he raced with McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix last year. Alonso was followed over the finish line by Nico Rosberg (Williams), while Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) finished third. Hamilton continues to lead the championship and has now gained further points over arch rival Massa.
When Lewis Hamilton breezed over the finish line at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in first place this weekend, it seemed he had claimed yet another victory for his team. However drama struck when officials later decided to impose a 25-second penalty on Hamilton, pushing him back to third place and giving the victory to Felipe Massa two hours after the race had ended.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has already registered their intention to appeal the decision but for now it seems that Hamilton will remain in third place. Apparently after race stewards reviewed videos of the chaos that ensued after a short but heavy downpour near the end of the race, they ruled that Hamilton should be penalized for actions taken at the Bus Stop chicane. Hamilton collided with Raikkonen, who was in first place, and inadvertently cut the corner. However he subsequently slowed down and allowed Raikkonen to retake the lead, perhaps as part of efforts to ward off a penalty. Unfortunately if that was his goal, it didn’t work. The stewards have ruled that he gained an advantage due to his actions. However Raikkonen later spun off the track on the same lap due to a completely unrelated incident, leaving Massa to gain the most from the ruling.
The British driver had again proved that he was the best wet-weather driver on the track when a sudden shower turned the race into utter chaos during the last few laps. Hamilton kept his cool, took the lead with ease after Raikkonen spun of the track and finished in first place with Massa (Ferrari) hot on his tail in second place and Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) in third. After the penalty was imposed Massa was moved into first place and Nick Heidfeld was gifted with second place. The change now means that Hamilton only takes six points instead of the ten he would have got for first place in the championship. It also pushes his team a little further back in the Constructors’ Championship. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are currently second with 119 points after Ferrari with 131 points.
The German Grand Prix was perhaps one of the most unexpected races of the season. The surprising part wasn’t that Lewis Hamilton took the winner’s trophy, it was that the Ferrari Team performed dismally, with Massa only just managing to scrape together a third place.
It is a well-known fact that while Formula One Racing might be considered to be a science, with the performance of carefully tuned high performance vehicles being improved year after year by small scientific discoveries, it is really the art of driving that makes the biggest difference between a good race and a great race. The sport is physically and mentally challenging for the driver and it takes endurance, fitness, alertness and, most of all, skill to run a good race to the finish. For years now Ferrari has been dominating the sport, taking home one winner’s trophy after the next and maintaining a seemingly vice-like grip on the “Constructors Title.” They had the best drivers, the best cars and won the most races. But lately it seems they have hit a giant oil slick in their racing strategies. The cars are not performing the way they should and the drivers are not racing to their fullest potential. It is sad to see, but it gives other teams a chance to truly shine. And that was exactly what happened at the German Grand Prix this weekend.
In the beginning Raikkonen seemed to have the fastest car on the track and he was doing well. Light rain brought into question the use of tires better suited to the conditions and Team Ferrari chose not to put on new wet intermediates. The decision was strongly disputed and in the end it proved to be Raikkonen’s downfall. The result was that other teams such as Honda and McLaren could push to the front. By the end of the race all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton whose McLaren Mercedes car was screaming around the track in first place, after carefully climbing his way forward. Being able to take home the win in his home country must have only added to the joy Hamilton experienced at the event. The 23-year-old was clearly ecstatic and critics are wondering if they are going to see this youth blossom into one of the greatest drivers Formula One has ever seen. However, the fact remains that since other first class drivers such as Raikkonen and Massa were out of the picture, it is hard to tell exactly how he would perform against these more seasoned drivers if they were driving at their peak. Only time will tell exactly how good a driver he has the potential to become.
Rubens Barrichello also made good use of the rain, managing to climb the overall ranks somewhat during the course of the race. In the end it was Nelson Piquet for Renault who took second, and Felipe Massa of Ferrari who took third. The three were followed by Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes) respectively.
The race day dawned with incredibly wet conditions that ultimately made for some wild racing, but it seems that Lewis Hamilton managed to overcome all the obstacles to take the checkered flag at the British Grand Prix this past Sunday.
Hamilton’s last two races in Canada and France were not so good and he didn’t manage to collect points at either event. If his performance at Silverstone was as dismal this Sunday Hamilton would probably have lost out on taking the overall Formula One title, but it seems that in the end he managed to pull himself together rather well. His win not only gained him the Silverstone trophy, but put him in the overall lead. However, the race wasn’t easy, as wet conditions made the situation tricky at best. While other drivers struggled to find the right tires to keep them on course, Hamilton managed to stay in control for the entire race. His McLaren seemed to cope with the trying situation with effortless ease as other cars veered off course or spun off the circuit. His visor gave him problems and he had very low visibility but still somehow managed to keep going. Yet despite this it was clear that he was in a league of his own from early on in the race and the 23-year-old Briton was leading the field from the fourth lap. By the time he was nearing the finish line he’d managed to lap all but two of the cars still in the field. His performance was so good under the trying circumstances, in fact, that the 90 000 fans present seemed to think it was worthy of a standing ovation! The win marks Hamilton’s first British Grand Prix trophy and is will no doubt have a special place in his heart – not only for surviving under such difficult conditions but because some of his best driving and his most impressive victory happened in his home country.
Hamilton now has 48 points in the Formula One series and is tied with both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. However, he is in the championship lead because his finishes have been better than the other drivers’. Raikkonen only finished fourth.