F1: German Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 20th, 2008

 
 

It’s 1pm on Sunday and we’re off to Hockenheim for what promises to be a thrilling German Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton’s on a high following his Silverstone victory and his dominant performance in qualifying.

But Ferrari’s Felipe Massa is next to him on the front row and is tipped for a heavy fuel load which could see him grabbing the lead then powering away up the field to build up a commanding lead before the pitstops.

And this blog has a motto: “Never take your eyes off Kimi Raikkonen.” Not even if the Flying Finn’s at the back of the grid – since he still has the car and the driving talent to disrupt the leaders.

And, in sixth place paired up with none other than Fernando Alonso, he’s a long way off the back of the grid today. Watch that man.

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.

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World Championship:

  1. Hamilton: 58 (+10)
  2. Massa: 54 (+6)
  3. Raikkonen: 51 (+3)
  4. Kubica: 48 (+2)
  5. Heidfeld: 41 (+5)

Constructors:

  1. Ferrari: 105
  2. BMW: 89
  3. McLaren: 86
  4. Toyota: 25
  5. Red Bull Racing: 24
  6. Renault: 23
  7. Williams: 16
  8. Honda: 14
  9. Toro Rosso: 8
  10. Force India: 0
  11. Super Aguri: 0

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Post race: Nelson A Piquet is Martin Brundle’s driver of the day. Ron Dennis, when charged with making Lewis Hamilton’s day at the office harder than it should have been, said: “You can’t get it right all the time.” He said the team expected the safety car stint to be a lot shorter than it was, meaning that Hamilton would have more opportunity to make up time on Massa then he ended up getting.

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Lap 68: Hamilton starts an untroubled final lap and gets to the chequered flag with no problems. Piquet’s on the podium in second and Massa takes third place. This is Hamilton’s fourth win of the season and eighth career win.

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Lap 67: Order as we close in on the line is Hamilton (10 points), Piquet (8 points), Massa (6 points), Heidfeld (5 points), Kovalainen (4 points), Raikkonen (3 points), Kubica (2 points), Vettel (1 point), Trulli, Rosberg, Alonso, Bourdais, DC, Fisi, Nakajima, Sutil, Button, The three retirements are Glock, Webber and Barrichello.

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Lap 64: Massa isn’t really making much impression on Piquet. Raikkonen seems to have become aware of the fact that every single point he can score will count in the incredibly close world championship fight. And who’d be Fernando Alonso this afternoon?

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Lap 63: Unfortunately we are forced to the conclusion that Giancarlo Fisichella will not be following in the footsteps of David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello to take the veterans’ spot on the podium today.

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Lap 62: Timo Glock has been taken in an ambulance to hospital for checks but doesn’t seem to have “any visible injuries”. Vettel has taken Trulli for eighth.

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Lap 61: Piquet has about three and a half seconds on Massa.

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Lap 60: Hamilton has taken Piquet in a real wheel-to-wheel job that has the Brazilian forced right into the run-off area. Raikkonen has taken Kubica for sixth. And so the strategy cock-up is atoned for. Now it’s a question of whether Piquet can hold off Massa for second.

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Lap 59: Alonso spins and recovers. Raikkonen is on the back bumper of Robert Kubica’s BMW in a fight for sixth place. Hamilton is right behind Piquet now with eight laps left.

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Lap 58: Now Massa has Heidfeld on his back and Hamilton’s hunting down Piquet. Hamilton has taken a third off his lead in a single lap.

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Lap 57: Hamilton makes a move, Massa closes him off. Then he’s forced off the circuit and Hamilton is through. Massa tries to take it back and can’t and now is falling back. Now Nelson A Piquet is in his sights.

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Lap 56: Massa isn’t really making any impression on Piquet. However, Hamilton is all over the back of Massa. Commentators liken this to past Piquet/Hamilton battles in GP2. Massa is expected to be in trouble next time the hairpin comes round.

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Lap 55: Ted Kravitz, talking to the McLaren garage, confirms that the gamble they took under the safety car has not paid off – Hamilton was expected to put on more time and get a clear pit stop. But he’s currently catching Massa at a second a lap, with 13 laps left. Down to the wire…

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Lap 54: Piquet leads and doesn’t have to pit again. Heidfeld has come out of the pits in fourth, ahead of Kovalainen. Order is now Piquet, Massa, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Kubica, Raikkonen, Trulli. Jenson Button, lapped, is stuck in the middle of this lot.

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Lap 53: Massa has four seconds on Hamilton. Barrichello has retired – he’s shown in his garage, and not looking best pleased.

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Lap 52: Hamilton’s past Kovalainen in what looks like a pretty well-orchestrated move. He’s now running fourth, behind Heidfeld, Piquet and Massa.

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Lap 51: Hamilton’s pitted with just 15.7 seconds on the clock. Soft tyres go on. He comes out side by side with Kovalainen and slots in behind him, around fifth. That’s shaken things up a bit since Massa’s now in front of him. Piquet might soon be leading this race on merit if Heidfeld dives into the pits. Kovalainen showing absolutely no signs of letting Hamilton past.

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Lap 50: Coulthard cuts in front of Barrichello defending against an overtake manoeuvre, takes the nose off the Honda. They’re both on their way into the pits for new nosecones.

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Lap 48: Race order is Hamilton, Heidfeld, Piquet, Massa, Kovalainen, Kubica, Raikkonen, Trulli, Vettel, Rosberg, Alonso.

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Lap 47: Hamilton’s lead is 11 seconds on Massa and he’s picking up time at the rate of 1.5 secs a lap. But he’ll need at least twice that to pull off his pit stop. Meanwhile, clouds are gathering over the Hockenheim track.

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Lap 46: Raikkonen flies past Trulli and is now seventh. Obviously the Glock crash has motivated him big-time by shaking things up so much. Still no word on the Toyota driver’s condition, however.

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Lap 45: Raikkonen has come alive at last – he’s past Vettel, up to eighth and in the points. He is seen on his in-car camera nonchalantly waving to the German.

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Lap 44: Raikkonen tries to catch Alonso off-balance and goes past, taking a Williams past in his slipstream. Result: Alonso has lost places to Raikkonen and Rosberg. Raikkonen is now looking at Vettel and finding him just such a handful as Alonso did.

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Lap 43: Kovalainen past Kubica in a spectacular wheel-to-wheel duel. Alonso wheel-to-wheel with Vettel and stil can’t take him.

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Lap 42: Hamilton’s off up the road and there are three cars holding up Massa, two of them for position. Alonso’s doing some spectacularly reckless moves trying to get past Vettel, but can’t. Behind Kovalainen are Trulli, Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen, although the Toro Rosso and Renault drivers could be looking at a penalty for that pit lane incident.

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Lap 41: Order behind the safety car is Hamilton, Heidfeld, Piquet, Massa, Kubica and Kovalainen. Of those drivers, the top three will all need to pit again before the end of the race. Hamilton has about six laps to build up a lead on Massa to stay ahead when he needs to pit. Piquet’s one stopper could put him on the podium. Safety car coming in this lap. Webber has had to retire, bless him.

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Lap 40: Is the team set to benefit most from this Red Bull – if Webber’s car can hang on? He’s picked up a lot of places. Toyota team doctor says there is no information on Glock’s condition.

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Lap 39: about half the cars coming in including both Ferraris who are queueing and Kovalainen. Looks like Hamilton has stayed out, however. Webber’s engine is cooking – smoke pouring out of it. Chaos in the pit lane, cars stacked up side by side. M Schumacher watching quizzically from the Ferrari pit wall. Alonso has been forced wide over the pit lane white line as Vettel went past on the inside. A technical rules infringement – who will get punished. Webber still smoking like a steam train but following the safety car gamely. Hamilton, of course, is saving fuel doing this.

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Lap 38: Kubica being told on the radio that all the teams are standing by for the pit lane to open. DC has got himself up to 12th, somehow. This has put a firework under a race that was getting rather predictable.

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Lap 37: Whoa! Big crash. Glock’s car seems to have gone wide, spun and then come to bits. He’s given the wall a really hard bang next to the pit lane. First guess would be that something broke on that Toyota, since he didn’t seem to be going wider there than most other drivers. Safety car is out and Hamilton’s lead is destroyed.

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Lap 36: Hamilton’s lead 11.6 seconds, and he’s coming back round to pick up the traffic. Kovalainen is catching Massa slightly.

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Lap 34: Half-way point in the dullest race so far this season. Piquet appears to be experimenting with a one-stopper. Alonso has been told to get up the road and take the battle to Glock. He should really be exploiting the weakness of the Ferraris, but is not.

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Lap 33: Brundle: “If Jenson wants to end up in a McLaren or a Ferrari and win a world championship he’s going to have to go better than he is at the moment.” Not often you hear Button criticised by the cognoscenti. Mind you, after his interview with Autosport we were thinking of referring to him from now on as “the future World Champion Jenson Button…”

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Lap 32: Side-by-side Honda action in which Barrichello, coming out of the pits, is duelling with Button. Rubinho wins this one.

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Lap 31: Both Toyotas are currently ahead of both Red Bulls – a crucial component of the keen midfield battle for constructors’ points. But Red Bull are reported as quietly confident that they can win on fuel strategy.

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Lap 30: Glock finally pits. All 20 drivers are still running. Unfortunately, unlike Test Match Special, we don’t have our own tame statistician on hand but we reckon that might be a first for this season. Glock comes out and just nips ahead of Vettel. There’s a bit of back and fourth in which he is forced wide and Vettel just stays ahead, but Glock has wrung a bit of advantage out of his long first stint.

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Lap 29: About the most interesting thing going on at the moment is that Glock for Toyota is fuelled long. Hamilton, in the second stint of the race, is still gaining on Massa. Kubica has fallen back a couple of seconds in the pit stops and is therefore no longer on the back of Kovalainen. Heidfeld has pitted.

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Lap 25: Order is Hamilton, Massa, Glock (no pit stop), Kovalainen, Heidfeld (no pit stop), Kubica, Raikkonen, Trulli. This suggests Raikkonen has made up ground in the first lot of stops as Trulli is now behind him.

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Lap 24: Webber pits. Vettel is holding Alonso, to the latter’s frustration, who has been trying to get past the Toro Rosso driver ever since he came out of the pits.

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Lap 23: Raikkonen pits and goes onto soft tyres as well. James Allen: “Raikkonen’s just not at the races today.” Brundle suggests that he’s got a highly-strung car that’s just not ‘dialled into the racetrack’. Also that this is the first real Ferrari vs McLaren head to head we’ve seen since the Woking outfit did their upgrades – and Ferrari have no answer to it.

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Lap 22: Kovalainen pits and stays on hard tyres – meaning McLaren, unlike Ferrari, will save their soft tyres for the last stint. Trulli is on his radio enquiring about Alonso’s pitstop. Kovalainen has come out in front of Heidfeld who tries to take advantage of his cold tyres but does not manage it. The two cars touch and Kovalainen nudges the German aside.

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Lap 20: Ferrari garage preparing for a car. Soft tyres, 7.9 second stop. Speculation about a short middle stint for him. He comes out between Vettel and Webber.

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Lap 19: That’s a bummer for Hamilton as he’s now at the head of the Trulli Traffic Jam with Raikkonen’s gimlet-like stare boring into the back of his neck. He keeps on with wild overtaking chances until apparently being told on the radio to stop because the Toyota driver will pit – and this happens. Raikkonen, however, does not.

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Lap 18: Hamilton described as enjoying “a nice day out in a McLaren.” He pits at the end of lap 18, a nine-second stop, and he feeds back in ahead of Trulli who then goes past him at the pit exit. Kubica has pitted too.

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Lap 17: Hamilton locking a brake is about the most exciting thing happening at the moment, although replays of the DC – Button overtaking battle makes us wish the camera was on it at the time. Whoops! Nakajima has spun, making way for Nelson Piquet and (oh, the indignity) a Force India. Brundle deploys his favourite “more ambition than adhesion” cliche.

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Lap 16: Hamilton’s survived another ad break and is driving away comfortably up the track with a 9.7 sec lead. He’ll need 25 secs at least on the clock for a risk-free pit-stop, remember.

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Lap 14: Unseen, DC has passed Button and is off up the road. Now the Honda driver is fighting off Williams’ Rosberg.
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Lap 13: Kubica is catching Kovalainen – that could be a dramatic battle if he gets the bit between his teeth. Trulli has been told to pick it up in relation to Vettel, not the Ferraris and Renaults he is racing.

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Lap 11: Hamilton gaining on Massa at the rate of half a second a lap. Much head-scratching at how slow Raikkonen is – we were expecting him to be the story of the race as well. Ferrari garage to be baffled as to why their man is making no impression on Trulli.

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Lap 10: DC pulls out to take Button, can’t do it, despite the fact his car is faster.

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Lap 9: Hamilton is running 1 sec faster than Massa (remember that fuel rumour) Then Kovalainen, Kubica, Trulli, Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Webber, Glock, Heidfeld – as you were, in other words. Great on-track battle between Button and Coulthard. Hamilton building his lead really quickly but was thought pre-race to be fuelled light. Meaning that he’ll need to if he’s not to surrender it all to Massa in the pitstops.

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Lap 6: Hamilton has just set a new fastest sector. Main track activity is fourth through seventh place – Kubica with his fantastic start, Trulli who lost a place but has managed to stick in fifth, Raikkonen looking dangerous in sixth and Alonso hanging on in seventh. Next is Vettel, ahead of Webber. Glock completes the top ten and Heidfeld is 11th thanks to DC’s running wide. Can Trulli’s car ever be wide enough to hold Raikkonen?

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Lap 5: Vettel has taken Webber near the start – that should be good for next year’s morale.

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Lap 4: Alonso’s twitchy car seems to be giving him trouble – to the extent where he tried to take Trulli, wasn’t able to, lost momentum and then lost out to Raikkonen.

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Lap 2: Massa weathers the storm and gets clear of Kovalainen. DC has had to swerve to avoid Button after the Honda driver braked suddenly. Hamilton’s lead is 2 secs. Cars taking a wide range of racing lines. Honda’s appear well set up – Barrichello has taken Nakajima as if the latter was driving a pedal car. Very cautious driving all round.

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Lap 1: Hamilton goes defensive and keeps the lead. Massa is pressured by Kovalainen but manages to hang on to second. This is a really, really quiet start compared to some of the things we’ve seen recently. Hamilton’s scampering away and Massa continues to play it defensive. Kubica up to fourth, Raikkonen down to seventh. Uncharacteristically horrible start for DC who’s down to 15th.

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Parade lap: Dark clouds looming up over the track. Track temperature said to be cooler than Ferrari would like for optimum tyre performance.

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Pre-race: Massa thought to be fuelled heavy. Rain not expected to be a factor but tyre wear will be…

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