Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The initial Free Practice sessions for Germany were overcast and sometimes wet, and it was assumed that this weekend’s weather would be similar to the British GP. However, come race day it was nice and sunny.
Hamilton lined up on the front of the grid, having dominated all previous session less one – in which Kovalainen showed that McLaren were the ones to beat this weekend. Massa was faring okay in his Ferrari, but Raikkonen was seriously struggling and could only qualify in 6th, behind a Renault and a Toyota.
The opening few laps of the race were nice and clean with no major incidents. Hamilton got away very cleanly, and sprinted to an early lead. He pitted after 18 laps, which meant he wasn’t particularly light, just super fast. In the middle of the second stint, however, Glock had an accident in his Toyota. He spun round having run wide at the last corner, and smashed into the pit wall backwards. He climbed from the car okay, but was holding his back and visibly winded. The safety car was deployed.
This is where the strategy would really come to pass. Nelson Piquet in the Renault was one stopping, and had already had his pit stop, so when everyone else dived into the pit lane for their second stop, he simply fed up towards the front of the pack. He, Hamilton and Heidfeld all remained out and therefore headed up the pack when the restart took place a few laps later.
The decision for Hamilton not to pit was a risky one. If he had fuelled up, he would have then put extra strain on his tyres, and the McLaren has been known to suffer tyre issues. However, staying out meant he had to rebuild his lead and be able to pit and come back out in front of Massa. It turns out, although he put his foot down considerably, he wasn’t able to do this.
With just 14 laps to go, he had to overtake Kovalainen, Massa and Piquet. You can be forgiven for thinking Kovalainen made it easy for his team mate, but Hamilton stormed past the other two in legitimate overtaking manoeuvres to take the chequered flag. Piquet, amazingly, stood on the second step of the podium, undoubtedly lucky, but consistent at the same time. Massa rounded out the top three.
Elsewhere, Coulthard and Barrichello had a coming together, both having very bad races, Raikkonen continued to struggle, and Heidfeld finished a strong fourth, having qualified 12th.