F1 Rewind: 2008 British Grand Prix

In the first of a double bill of F1 rewinds, we revisit a wet classic which was the 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The weekend begun with two huge announcements as F1 bosses announced that the British GP was set to move from Silverstone to Donnington Park in 2010, on a ten year deal which eventually collapsed due to the 2009 financial crisis. 

Red Bull’s David Coulthard meanwhile announced his retirement at the end of that season, with the Scot saying; “The decision to make this announcement at the British Grand Prix should be an obvious one for all to understand, as I have achieved two of my F1 victories at Silverstone and I am a member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which hosts this event.”

The race marked the ninth round of the 2008 season and halfway point of the season, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa leading BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica in the drivers’ standings by just two points. 

 

Practice

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Massa emerged fastest in the opening practice session with a 1m 19.575 despite suffering a crash, after Renault’s Fernando Alonso dispersed oil across the track at Stowe corner due to a engine blow-up. 

The McLaren duo of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton however weren’t far behind Massa with all three covered by just 0.048s at the end of FP1. 

Kovalainen then topped FP2 by 0.531s from Red Bull’s Mark Webber with Hamilton and Coulthard rounding out the top four in a McLaren 1-3 and Red Bull 2-4. 

Toyota meanwhile encountered issues with both cars as Timo Glock stopped on track with clutch issues, whilst Jarno Trulli suffered a rear wing failure which resulted in a massive crash at Stowe. 

Alonso topped a damp FP3 on the Saturday morning after receiving a new engine, which saw him finish 0.248s quicker than Webber. 

 

Qualifying

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Q1 saw Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Aidan Sutil prop up the grid in last two positions respectively, with Williams’ Nico Rosberg a surprise early casualty in 18th position behind the Honda duo of Jensen Button and Rubens Barrichello. 

Q2 saw Kazuki Nakajima, Glock, Sebastien Bourdais, Trulli and David Coulthard eliminated, although Coulthard missed out by just 0.059s to Nelson Piquet Junior. 

Kovalainen eventually clinched his maiden pole from Webber by 0.505s as Raikkonen and Hamilton completed the front two rows, ahead of Nick Heidfeld, Alonso, Piquet Jnr, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. 

BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica started tenth after failing to set a time in Q3 due to a technical issue.  

 

Race

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Rain fell throughout the day but had reduced its intensity come the race start with Kovalainen, Webber and Raikkonen however suffering wheelspin as the lights went out, which resulted in the trio making difficult getaways.

Hamilton however managed to quickly pass Raikkonen then Webber to briefly snatch the lead from Kovalainen, who quickly fought back to reclaim the lead after a light tap from Hamilton. 

Like qualifying it had been raining in the morning and was still raining lightly as the lights went out.

Standing water however was an issue as Webber discovered upon entry to the Hangar Straight, spinning from fourth down to last place, before Massa fell victim at Bridge whilst Coulthard and Vettel collided to take both drivers out of the race. 

Alonso meanwhile passed Piquet Jnr and Heidfeld on laps two and three whilst Massa suffered another spin which highlighted how difficult conditions were on track. 

Hamilton spent the early stages of the race tucked in behind Kovalainen before producing a move into Stowe to snatch the lead, delighting home fans as he quickly built a six second gap within next five laps before Kovalainen spun at Abbey. . 

The track however soon dried which allowed Raikkonen to find better pace and chase down Hamilton with the gap reduced to under a second come lap 21 when both drivers pitted for fuel. 

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Hamilton also received a fresh set of intermediate tyres unlike Raikkonen who opted to stay on his worn inters in hope that the track would remain dry, which proved costly as the rain soon returned to send him tumbling down the order. 

Elsewhere, Force India suffered a double retirement as Sutil and Fisichella both spun out of the race on laps 10 and 26 respectively. 

Raikkonen eventually pitted on lap 30 just before the rain got heavier with both Honda cars opting to pit for extreme wet tyres, although Barrichello encountered a fuel rig issue which meant another stop later in the race. 

Piquet then spun off with Button and Kubica doing the same soon afterwards to round off the list of race retirements, as Hamilton and Massa encountered hairy moments across the grass in worsening conditions. 

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By lap 40, Barrichello had found pace on the extreme wet tyres which meant that he was nine seconds per lap faster than rest of the field and had worked his way up to second when he made his final stop for more fuel. 

Once he re-joined the track, Barrichello found himself in third where he stayed as Hamilton clinched what would be the first of seven home wins, finishing 68.577s ahead of Heidfeld, who was 13.696s quicker than Barrichello in third. 

Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Trulli and Nakajima rounded out the points placings despite finishing a lap down, alongside Rosberg, Webber, Bourdais, Glock and Massa who finished outside the points with Massa the only driver to finish two laps down. 

Hamilton consequently took the championship lead on countback despite tying with Massa and Raikkonen on 48 points apiece, before eventually pipping Massa to his first title in Brazil by a single point.

Please join us on Thursday for a retro throwback to another classic around Silverstone. 

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