F1: British Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 6th, 2008

 
 

It’s here – the British Grand Prix and the highlight of the Formula One season. It’s also the one day of the year when the spotlight is on Lewis Hamilton as never before.

The pressure told in qualifying, when a mistake at Priory sent him onto the gravel, compromising his session and ensuring he couldn’t do better than fourth. In contrast team-mate Kovalainen drove a near-perfect lap to put himself commandingly on pole.

Add into this some really rotten weather that saw the GP2 drivers coping with something closer to figure-skating than motor racing. And then there’s the detonation of Bernie Ecclestone’s Donington Park grenade still echoing off the Silverstone stands.

It’s a volatile race, alright. Stick with us, and make sure you don’t miss a moment. Keep hitting refresh to get the latest, don’t forget you can comment on this post, and you can also email us on admin@britsonpole.com. Look out for us on Twitter as well – user name is, of course, britsonpole.

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Post-race: All due kudos to Hamilton, and hopefully this will make the nay-sayers shut up for a bit.

But if you want our pick for the news story of today it’s the remarks made by Donington’s joint CEO Simon Gillett at the beginning, namely that there is no ‘mystery investor’ and anyone with £100m to spare is welcome to get in touch.

To recap, he also said that the circuit was “just going into” the planning process and, most intriguing of all: that we’ll hear about a “fan-powered debenture scheme” in the next couple of weeks.

To be clear: they appear to be hoping fans like you and us will be taken with the idea of coughing up the necessary cash. Read a definition of debenture here.

This should be a huge story – because if they are asking fans to invest in order to allow Bernie Ecclestone to generate a few more millions for his personal fortune, then it’s very possible that the fans will give them extremely short shrift. We know that we would.

But we guess we’d better wait and see what emerges in the next few days before getting a head of steam worked up.

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Anthony Hamilton quotes: “In the context of the last month and also his career so far this was clearly his best win. It’s been extremely tough and what I want to say is that I hope Lewis stands for giving other young people and families some hope. If you have a dream, you can fulfil that dream.

“The championship’s one thing – his mental stability is huge. He has a great chance in the world championship. But there a long way to go with the championship and what Lewis needs to do is focusing on doing the best he can.

“There are no words to express what we’ve gone through in the last month. I just can’t begin telling you. We just arrive at each race the same way and ready to do the job.”

– – – – –

Lewis Hamilton quotes: “It was so extreme out there. It was so tough, a real mental challenge. It’s definitely… it’s by far the best victory I’ve ever had. It was one of the toughest races I’ve ever had – I had to drive probably one of the best races I ever did. I was just praying, praying ‘keep it on the track, just finish’. I wanted to push, I just wanted to get it round – and we did.”

– – – – –

Ron Dennis quotes: “The team performance was well-disciplined. We had to really, really keep the pace down. We could have gone much faster. It’s very easy to make mistakes in those conditions. It’s difficult because you’re trying to do your best all the time and you are surrounded by armchair experts who constantly apply pressure. You have to put it out of your mind.”

– – – – –

Points:

  • Lewis Hamilton, McLaren – 10 points
  • Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 8 points
  • Rubens Barrichello, Honda – 6 points
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 5 points
  • Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren – 4 points
  • Fernando Alonso, Renault – 3 points
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 2 points
  • Kazuki Nakajima, Williams – 1 point

Drivers’ championship is now tied three ways with Massa, Hamilton and Raikkonen on 48 points apiece. Don’t ask us to work out the countback but ITV lists them as Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen. Kubica is two points behind on 46. Heidfeld is fifth on 36. Kovalainen sixth on 24 and Trulli right behind him. Only movement in the constructors’ is Toyota overtaking Red Bull for fourth, which is a newsworth little snippet, considering how long people have been talking about them as the up-and-coming team.

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Lap 60: A good day’s work for Hamilton – the best possible answer to his critics. Unfortunate results for Coulthard and Button. Brilliant that Rubinho should get a podium – but it remains to be seen just how much comfort Honda can take from this. Also excellent for Heidfeld to answer his critics. Lovely shot on the telly of Hamilton’s younger brother Nic celebrating.

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Lap 59: Order is Hamilton, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Nakajima, Trulli in the points. Then Rosberg, Webber, Bourdais, Glock and Massa. Nakajima is monstering Alonso but the commentary team does not give much for his chances of getting past.

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Lap 58: Hamilton more than a minute ahead with three laps to go – so, barring disaster, he’s home free. Williams team radio tells Nakajima not to risk the points he has with reckless overtaking. Kovalainen’s past Alonso for fifth place taking a very wide line to do so.

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Lap 57: Nakajima is on the back of Kovalainen – we’re pleased about this, he’s one of our Grand Prix League drivers, as is Trulli.

– – – – –

Lap 55: Barrichello 6.4 seconds behind Heidfeld and gaining – but only five laps left. Kovalainen has tried a move on Alonso but has failed to make it stick. He and Webber are both massive losers today. Ted Kravitz is reporting that the technicians in the McLaren garage are not relaxing but are ready in case they are needed for an emergency late pitstop. Kovalainen makes another move on Alonso, fails again.

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Lap 54: Apparently if it finishes like this one point will separate the top four world championship contenders. Raikkonen has another go at Alonso and can’t make it stick. This is a fantastic battle and we hope it doesn’t end in tears. And it’s over – Raikkonen has got Alonso for fourth place and the chance to have a bash at Barrichello and a podium. Top six is currently Hamilton, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Alonso, Kovalainen – although the McLaren driver’s not giving Alonso an easy life right now.

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Lap 53: Hamilton is lapping the Alonso – Raikkonen – Kovalainen group. That must be a sweet feeling…

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Lap 52: Kovalainen has spun, letting through Alonso and Raikkonen. Hamilton currently has a minute in hand. Raikkonen is looking at Alonso but can’t make a move. Massa, having spun yet again, pits. Ross Brawn points out that Barrichello would be “very, very pleased” with third. He describes Lewis Hamilton’s performance on the inters as “very, very impressive.”

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Lap 48: Kovalainen takes Alonso at Bridge. Bourdais spins and recovers. Classification shows Hamilton, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Trulli, Kovalainen, Alonso, Raikkonen, Nakajima, Webber, Rosberg, Bourdais, Glock, Massa – but that was out of date before it was across the screen. Barrichello’s pitstop means Heidfeld is in second. Trulli pits, Massa spins and once again manages to keep the car running. Webber is pictured going sideways into the pitlane entrance in the same spot as Massa then recovers and gets back on track.

– – – – –

Lap 47: speculation that Barrichello could get himself a podium. Veterans’ Day for the third race running (Coulthard in Canada then Trulli in France). Fisi at Hockenheim, then.

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Lap 46: Hamilton receiving fulsome praise for keeping it together on the inters while others spin like merry-go-rounds. Honda pit crew out for Barrichello. Has he done enough to keep a decent position?

– – – – –

Lap 45: Hamilton has 42 seconds on Rubens Barrichello. Heidfeld third. Trulli in fourth, Alonso in fifth bang on his tail, and Kovalainen behind them. Weather improving, track still wet with standing water in places although a dry line is appearing. Raikkonen in seventh catching Kovalainen. Nakajima eighth. Glock has just spun out of a points-paying position.

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Lap 44: Barrichello is past Heidfeld for second place.

– – – – –

Lap 43: OK, Lewis, all the national interest is on your shoulders now, with the other two out. At the moment it’s him leading, then Heidfeld, then Barrichello who we know can’t maintain his position. Clearly this is the obvious moment for an ad break…

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Lap 42: Hamilton leads from Heidfeld with 39 seconds in hand (a pitstop, easily) He’s four seconds a lap quicker. Glock spins and recovers, having had plenty of practice. Barrichello is motoring thanks to his extreme wets but it can’t last. Also we learn that a fuel problem is going to cost him another pitstop.

– – – – –

Lap 41: Kubica totally bins it, goes straight on at a corner, and is shown getting out of the car. Beneficiary of this, in World Championship terms, is Raikkonen. Rosberg has shunted a Toyota, we think Glock, and is now limping back to the pits with most of his nosecone under his car. Jenson Button is out, no news on why yet.

– – – – –

Lap 40: How we have avoided a major smash in this race is hard to comprehend. Webber, despite being pictured going backwards and forwards on the gravel, is still running. Order is all over the place and changing by the second as the track starts to dry again. Brundle says: “Hamilton, importantly, is through the danger phase.”

– – – – –

Lap 39: Hamilton pits for inters – a huge gamble but the weather is visibly brightening. Anthony Hamilton looks like he’s about to give birth. Raikkonen’s picked up huge speed but God knows where he is, on the road to Brackley for all we know. Heidfeld pits and also gambles on inters. Kubica also. Raikkonen has spun again, on the pit straight this time, goes backwards for a while, and again he recovers. Webber has also spun. More dodgems than motor racing right now.

– – – – –

Lap 38: Barrichello on extreme wets is now making huge progress – to the extent where he’s unlapped himself. Hamilton’s struggling horribly on his inters. Raikkonen has gone onto the grass and pulled it back. Another yellow flag. McLaren are readying full wets but the weather is brightening. Don’t mention China last year.

– – – – –

Lap 37: Yellow flag out for Piquet. Hamilton and Kubica have both gone onto the grass, both recovered. It looks like the road is simply too wet for inters right now, but the rain’s not expected to last long. Massa is pictured in the gravel with a rabbit running away from the front wheels. He lost it from a straight line and miraculously managed not to hit anything.

– – – – –

Lap 36: Both Hondas in the pits and Barrichello having to be pushed out of the way… Piquet is out and is pictured in the gravel on the Abbey chicane having lost the back on more or less running water.

– – – – –

Lap 35: McLaren getting ready for a pit stop – hopefully learning from the Ferrari and Renault tyre madness. Kovalainen brought in for new tyres. Piquet, driving well, managed to take him before that stop. Kovalainen puts inters back on and comes out wheel to wheel with (we think) Jenson Button in ninth. Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kubica, Piquet, Barrichello, Glock is the order at the top right now – until a Toyota spins. We think it’s Glock, and the next to take an excursion is Kubica, but he doesn’t lose any places. This is predicted to be a short but heavy burst of rain: “absolutely hosing down” is Ted Kravitz’ assessment.

– – – – –

Lap 34: Now Kubica comes to life for BMW. He has been catching Kovalainen at the rate of four seconds a lap and is now right on his back. It seems unlikely that the Finn will be able to hold off the Pole unless something changes and both cars extremely twitchy. Kubica passes him in Stowe, and it sticks. So much for writing off the Beemers. Heavy rain now for more tyre dilemmas.

– – – – –

Lap 32: Hamilton is no longer losing time to Heidfeld. His lead is 25 secs. Kovalainen is in third, then it’s Kubica, Piquet, Barrichello, Glock, Trulli, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Rosberg. 16 cars still running. Much puzzlement from those in the know about Ferrari’s tactics in this race. Cameras show heavy rain – and Glock shaking his fist at Felipe Massa because he wouldn’t get out of the way and be lapped. Now, now…

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Lap 31: Raikkonen finally pits, probably due to the fact that Kubica and Piquet were both past him. Piquet had been catching him at the rate of six seconds a lap.

– – – – –

Lap 30: Half-way point and Hamilton has a 23-second lead. Heidfeld now catching him at a more normal speed of a second a lap.

– – – – –

Lap 29: Still under a yellow flag. It was possible, according to Brundle, that Raikkonen would have pitted but for the fact that Heidfeld’s overtake cost him the chance to get into the pit lane. It transpires that Heidfeld took four seconds out of Hamilton in Lap 28 but there doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem with his car. Did he have any little lapses that the cameras failed to catch?

– – – – –

Lap 28: Come on, Kovy – get past him! And at last! wow – Heidfeld’s soared past both of them and is now in third on merit. Order is Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Piquet, Kubica, Barrichello, Glock. That must mean Alonso’s had the sense to go in for tyres. Fisi loses it in an identical manner to team-mate Sutil and beaches it in a series of lovely swoops that narrowly miss ending Hamilton’s race.

– – – – –

Lap 27: Hamilton has a 21-second lead over Raikkonen and Kovalainen’s on his back bumper. Hamilton has lapped Massa. Commentators are saying that Kimi has to pit, but he’s showing no signs of it yet.

– – – – –

Lap 26: Hamilton is gaining a truly ridiculous five seconds a lap on Raikkonen. Kovalainen, behind him, is gaining three or four seconds a lap, so maybe he’ll take the red car soon. Alonso and Piquet are racing – and the Brazillian’s past his senior team-mate for the second race in a row. Oh, the indignity of a bad tyre choice…

– – – – –

Lap 25: Hamilton has a 12-second lead. Raikkonen’s and Alonso’s decision to gamble on inters have cost them dearly as is illustrated when Alonso is taken effortlessly by Glock for six. He wobbles and nearly loses his car.

– – – – –

Lap 24: Heidfeld’s taken both Glock and Alonso in a spectacular double overtaking manoeuvre – we think that puts him sixth. He goes outside, then inside – it’s masterful, a potential move of the season. Still raining. Nakajima has spun into the track and has missed being hit very narrowly.

– – – – –

Lap 23: Hamilton’s going great guns on his new tyres. Rain on the cameras. Heidfeld has come out in eighth behind Glock. We’ll do a proper order once the pit stops are over. BMW out for Kubica.

– – – – –

Lap 22: Hamilton leaves the pits ahead of Raikkonen. That’s the uncluttered end of the pit lane for you. They come out in second and third. Heidfeld currently leads the race. Of course, Kimi could have been in longer because he has more fuel. Massa comes in. We learn McLaren changed tyres, Ferrari didn’t and that the Woking team actually put in more fuel. Wa-hay!

– – – – –

Lap 21: Alonso pits for Renault and doesn’t change his tyres. He comes out between the two Toyotas in seventh. Drama – both Hamilton and Raikkonen pit, at opposite ends of the pit lane of course.

– – – – –

Lap 20: Kovalainen pits and comes back out on inters. He’s in sixth with a very twitchy car but misses some messy traffic. Webber pits and comes back out in 15th. Raikkonen still taking the fight to Hamilton whose speed might be falling off – we’d have to think he’s been hard on his tyres as usual.

– – – – –

Lap 19: Hamilton quicker than Raikkonen in the fast first sector around Becketts. The rain’s here, Heidfeld being told on the team radio that “short, light drizzle” is expected.

– – – – –

Lap 18: Massa is past Nico Rosberg but is having trouble shifting wily veteran Fisi out of his way. He finally manages it under the bridge of Bridge (or it might have been the other bridge.) Raikkonen has taken a second out of Hamilton’s lead in this lap and almost as much in the previous lap. There may be trouble ahead…

– – – – –

Lap 16: Webber is past Button and up into 10th place. He’s lapping as fast as Hamilton. A very clear dry line and everything has calmed down a bit. Of course, with rain due any minute and the pitstop window approaching, that’s a real tactical dilemma for some people.

Apparently Anthony Davidson’s commentating for Radio Five Live. A shame he couldn’t be on the track – but good to hear that he’s a presence on race day, at least.

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Lap 14: track visibly drying – little spray behind the cars. Webber anything up to two and a half seconds faster than Button and right on his back. Raikkonen is 3.8 seconds behind Hamilton, so expect fireworks soon. ITV, in their wisdom, have gone to ads. Want a bet that the Finn’s leading when we go back?

– – – – –

Lap 13: Yellow flag is out following Sutil’s adventures. Webber past Barrichello and hunting down our Jense. Order as follows: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Heidfeld, Piquet, Trulli, Kubica, Glock, Button, Webber, Barrichello, Bourdais, Nakajima, Fisichella, Rosberg, Massa.

Ross Brawn joins the ITV commentary team and says he’s pleased so far – but says he’s worried about whether his drivers’ tyres will last until their scheduled pitstop, given that rain is due.

– – – – –

Lap 12: Sutil has taken a serious excursion across the gravel, losing it under braking while trying to hold off Williams’ Nakajima and dropping the back end. Looks like he’ll be out. Bourdais is extremely lucky to still be running after that.

– – – – –

Lap 11: Raikkonen appears to be past Kovalainen, who has lost six seconds in the middle of the lap – the TV cameras didn’t catch it. Has he had an off? The replay shows him spinning going into Abbey, recovering and letting Kimi past. Now he’s stuck with an aggressive Alonso halfway up his exhaust pipe. Button is ahead of Barrichello and Webber is the fastest man on the race track. More rain coming in five minutes, according to team radio.

– – – – –

Lap 9: Hamilton’s last lap was 1:33.8, half a second faster than Kovalainen. Webber has taken Bourdais for 14th and is now looking at Sutil. Now he’s past the Force India for 12th despite a horrible twitch from the nose of his car. The Hondas next…

– – – – –

Lap 6: Louise Goodman talks to Coulthard. He apologises for the accident – what an absolutely shocking afternoon for Red Bull and co. Hamilton’s lapping nearly two and a half seconds quicker now he’s past Kovalainen. But Raikkonen’s an increasingly threatening presence behind him.

– – – – –

Lap 5: yellow flags are in. Order is Kovalainen, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, Heidfeld, Piquet. Hamilton has taken Kovalainen easily and Kovalainen tries to get him back that can’t. Alonso’s coming up at such a speed that you have to wonder at his fuel load. Hamilton was apparently lapping faster than his colleague and this might be why he was able to get past. Looks like team orders and Hamilton thought to be fuelled lighter than Kovalainen. Raikkonen catching the McLarens very fast.

– – – – –

Lap 4: Massa off for a second time. Piquet in sixth – Renault not doing too badly. Honda have progressed into 10th and 11th. Brundle speculating that there’s some fault with Massa’s throttle.

– – – – –

Lap 3: Raikkonen biding his time in third, waiting for the McLarens to take each other out. Massa still running in 17th, Webber in 18th. Alonso has easily passed Heidfeld and is streaking away from him.

– – – – –

Lap 2: Yellow flag. Hamilton attacking Kovalainen but not managing to take him. This could end in tears. Heidfeld fourth, Alonso fifth, but a long way back.

– – – – –

Lap 1: Hamilton has got briefly through to the lead but Kovalainen manages to hold him off with inches to spare. Kovailainen leads, Hamilton is second and Raikkonen third. Webber blocked the Finn but couldn’t hold both him and Hamilton. Webber’s car’s ended up pointing the wrong way and running backwards in a horrible few seconds but he’s still going. Massa has spun and is having trouble righting the car. A Red Bull and a Toro Rosso in the gravel trap – DC didn’t even make it to a second lap, they can’t get his car going. That’s an absolute f***ing tragedy.

– – – – –

Parade lap: Gosh, what a lot of spray on that track. The on-board cameras are almost completely obscured by water, although it’s not actually raining at the moment. No traction control, as Brundle reminds us.

– – – – –

James Allen points out that Coulthard, in 11th place is the first driver to have control of his fuel strategy, has “a great opportunity”. The rain doubles that for him… Don’t get hopeful, folks. It can’t happen.

Gordon Ramsay to Louise Goodman: “We need a British winner to win.”

Grid walk: Martin Brundle has noted the safety car in a state of preparation and is speculating about the possibility of it leading the cars off the grid. This would limit the teams’ tyre choices and stop anyone gambling on inters.

Nico Rosberg to start from the pitlane after a full suspension change – that explains his uncharacteristically awful performance in qualifying yesterday.

Yay! Murray Walker! He says that he thinks the media is “getting at Hamilton unnecessarily” and putting too much pressure on him. He urges them to remember that he’s only 23 years old. Stirling Moss is on the grid as well, looking stylishly unruffled. Unlike Davina McCall.

– – – – –

Pre-race: Donington’s joint CEO Simon Gillett is interviewed on ITV1, saying there is no ‘mystery investor’ with a £100m cheque and that we’ll hear about a “fan-powered debenture scheme” in the next couple of weeks. WTF? And, again, WTF? Professional business people, Bernie said?

Also, they’re “just going into” the planning process. Good luck with that, chaps.

Sorry to sound so cynical about this – we’ve no intrinsic downer on Donington, it’s clearly a great circuit in some respects. But we invite you to picture the Dragon’s Den team if confronted with this as a proposition. You’d hear the laughter from Singapore.

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