2008 British F1 GP – Wolf’s Race Review – The Ross Brawn Factor

Rubens Barrichello Silverstone 2008

After some Monaco drizzle we had the first proper wet to extreme wet race this year. It has provided us with all that can be expected – lots of spins, pit stop and strategy dilemas and some surprising faces on the podium.

It is not easy to review this race without missing something. A lot was happening on the track, the commercial breaks on ESPN Star came always in the wrong moment and Steve Slater did again his best to confuse us all with mixing up the driver names and talking bull while important things were happening on the track. How can someone like this guy keep the job with a TV station that broadcasts all over Asia is a mystery to me. But back to racing …

When we look back at the end of the season for the start of the year then Lewis Hamilton’s start to British GP will be high on the list of candidates. Starting from 4th but almost in the lead after few corners. Only very sharp defensive driving from his team mate kept him in second position. I am not sure McLaren pit wall enjoyed those few opening corners watching both their drivers getting way too close for comfort on the wet and slippery track. Both McLarens pulled away with Kimi Raikkonen in 3rd safely behind (safely for McLarens but safely for Kimi too). Hamilton kept pushing and Kovalainen kept defending. But then on lap 4 all of a sudden Kovalainen let Hamilton pass … TV applauded that as a great overtaking maneuvre from Hamilton, to me it looked like team orders in place …


Few laps later Kovalainen spun and lost the 2nd place to Kimi Raikkonen. From then on Raikkonen began to close the gap to Hamilton. Both these drivers were pulling away from the rest and both of them made their pit stops at the same time. This is where The Ross Brawn Factor worked for the first time during the race – he wasn’t there for Ferrari :-) . While Hamilton changed his tyres Raikkonen and Ferrari kept the worn out intermediates on. It was a very strange decision that probably cost Ferrari the race. Both cars left the pitlane at the same time, Hamilton just ahead. But withing few laps Hamilton was 30 seconds away and the drivers behind Raikkonen were catching Kimi. The only driver capable of challenging Hamilton at wet Silverstone was out of the picture and from then on it was all about Hamilton keeping out of trouble. He managed to do that and drove an amazing race, often lapping several seconds faster than anybody else on the track. Fully deserved win, but one has to say, with a lot of help from Ferrari strategists …

Nick Heidfeld Silverstone Podium

The pressurre (if there is any) seems to be helping Nick Heidfeld. After quite long time he had good qualifying finally solving his one lap issues. There was not much going wrong for him in the race either. Already in the early stages of the race he was closing down on the runaway trio Hamilton-Kovalainen-Raikkonen. After the first round of pitstops and Raikkonen’s bad tyre choice he advanced to 2nd place. He had to surrender it to Rubens Barrichello for few laps but claimed it back after late Barrichello’s pitstop – 8 points in the bag. This was not a good weekend for Robert Kubica. Problems in qualifying, low position on starting grid, lots of aquaplanning and at the end sliding spinning off the race. Zero points this time but still only 2 points away from the championship lead …

And now to Honda and Rubens Barrichello. His race reminded me a bit of Button’s win in Hungary 2006. Starting from the back of the grid and driving through the field in wet conditions all the way to the podium … Honda drivers were only one of few switching to extreme wets when the rain was at its worse, pittng both cars at the same time. The Ross Brawn Factor again – he is with Honda now :-) . It did not help Button and he lost it anyway but Barrichello kept running several seconds faster than anyobody else. First he unlapped himself (when Hamilton let him pass) and after 40 odd laps he was running in 2nd place. Only a faulty refueling rig that forced him to make an extra pit stop cost him the 2nd place. The 3rd however is still a great result. The first podium for Rubens since joining Honda and the first podium for Honda since 2006 Brazilian GP … Looks like this is the season of podiums for the veterans – Coulthard, Trulli, Barrichello … Perhaps Fisi is next :-) .

Kimi Vettel Under Umbrella Silverstone 2008

Ferarri will want to forget this race quickly. Raikkonen’s fate has been described above already. He still did well to finish 4th after loosing so much time on wrong tyres and extra pit stop that had to follow (a bit too late I would say). But what to make of Massa ballet ? It looked like Massa spent more time spinning around than driving forward … I think I saw him spinning the car on 5 different occasions … This was Massa in his erratic worst, a reminder of his Melbourne and Sepang antics earlier this season … But despite the poor poor weekend both Ferrari drivers now share the championship lead with Hamilton and the team leads the constuctors’ table.

Fernando Alonso Silverstone 2008

Fernando Alonso was another victim of bad tyre decision during the first stop. It is not the first time Renault have made the wrong call this season. The sixth place is not bad for Renault and Alonso put on display some great driving and position defending. But when the team see Honda and Barrichello on the podium they must be very aware of a what a chance for them this race was …

Mark Webber probably only has himself to blame. Not a great start and then that spin. What a waste of front grid position. It must hurt him even more knowing, that Red Bull was very competitive last weekend, the fact that was obvious even during the race … David Coulthard can add another name to his list of drivers he took out of the race this season. This time his victim was Sebastian Vettel on lap one after elegant synchronized spinning into the gravel …

Unlike Mark Webber, Kazuki Nakajima did recover from his early spin and brought his Williams home in points in 8th place, just ahead of Nico Rosberg. It was respectable performance from both cars after rather poor qualifying and Rosberg even having to start from the pit lane. It could have been even better if Rosberg did not break his front wing after hitting Glock.

Jarno Trulli keeps on scoring points for Toyota, this time 2 for 7th place. He was as high as 3rd during the race but lost lots of time and track position during the wettest spell … Extreme wets would have come handy …

Both Force India cars went off. Sutil’s spin/flight was definitelly the more spectacular one and I am sure he has scared the **** out of Bourdais … What other kind of conditions do they expect to be able to get to points ?

Photos: Honda Racing F1, BMW AG, Renault/LAT, Red Bull/GEPA

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. StewNo Gravatar says:

    Ross Brawn the calculated magician. What else can you say.

    Now thanks to this great race the standings have tightened right up where they should be. The second half of the season could go right down to the wire.

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