2008 British Grand Prix preview: Can Lewis Hamilton win at Silverstone?

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Silverstone test, 2008, 470150, 2008

A home victory would be the perfect way for Lewis Hamilton to respond to criticism of his driving after two consecutive no-scores in Canada and France.

Do McLaren have the car – and does Hamilton have the nerve – for him to win the British Grand Prix at a sold-out Silverstone? He will be hoping his disqualification from a yacht race last weekend will be the last of his misfortune for now…

Are McLaren quick enough?

The silver cars looked threatening in pre-Grand prix testing at Silverstone last week:

1 Felipe Massa, Ferrari 1’20.188
2 Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.477

1 Kovalainen 1’20.015
7 Massa 1’21.069

1 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes 1’19.170
3 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1’20.321

It’s important not to read too much into a few tenths one way or the other in testing. Hamilton’s Thursday time might have been a full second quicker than anything Ferrari managed but the presence of Timo Glock’s Toyota 0.7s down on his time suggests if McLaren have any advantage over Ferrari it will only be marginal.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen was able to lap Silverstone during the race almost half a second faster than either of the McLarens. So far this year they’ve not had that kind of superiority anywhere under normal conditions where both teams had cars running in clean air on a dry day.

Is Lewis Hamilton up to it?

Plenty has been written about Hamilton’s temperament in past weeks and there’s no need to add more to it here.

But while much of the criticism has focused on his race craft a word should be said about his performances in qualifying. In those tricky conditions at Montreal he out-classed the field, but on a few occasions this year he’s taken a lighter fuel load into qualifying and not extracted the time advantage from it he really should.

Assuming he takes the same approach at Silverstone he will need to repeat his pole position from last year. He can’t rely on making up ground on the short run to the first corner.

On the face of it, McLaren have a competitive car and can expect to fight for the win this weekend. They will have to be sure not to repeat some of the careless and naive mistakes by team and driver that provoked the rash of penalties they picked up in recent races.

It’s up to Lewis Hamilton, in front of a sold-out home crowd, to do the rest.

Read more about Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “2008 British Grand Prix preview: Can Lewis Hamilton win at Silverstone?”

  1. I think he’ll nail the pole slot, with low fuel and softer tyres, talk-up his chances for the race, negating the fact that P1 on the grid sacrifices a race advantage. He looks good for a 3rd place again.

    Remember this year, he’s piling pressure on himself as team leader, but now there’s the added threat of BMW, a quicker, low-fuel Renault, his own team mate who like Silverstone – and then of course the Ferraris.

    Ferrari will want to exert pressure from all angles in practice, quali, press conferences, race-strategy etc..to deliver a psychological blow as well as a strategic one – on Hamilton’s home territory.

    If Hamilton doesn’t fare well in the British GP, the sponsors and financial backers will start asking some serious questions on their investments – especially at a time when marketing budgets are being squeezed around the world….

  2. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    30th June 2008, 10:28

    the only way i see it happening is if hamilton runs a short 1str and 2nd stint or a 3 stop strategy

  3. Terry Fabulous
    30th June 2008, 10:31

    I’m with Scottmcm, he will definately stick it on pole and get everyone pumped.

    I don’t think he WILL win the race, but he most certainly COULD!

    1. Kimi
    2. Kubica
    3. Lewis

  4. Nope, not this year. He will make another silly mistake and leave it in the kitty-litter.

  5. Don’t think he’ll win if normal weather conditions prevail. The pressure of where he is has finally sunk in , coupled with the fact that this years Ferrari is more competitive than last years , and last year Ferrari were the class at Silvestone. Of course , with adverse weather , which is a good chance at Silverstone , anything can happen , but I would not bet on Lewis winning this one.

  6. I’d put my money on Hamilton winning this one. Long overdue in my opinion, and I’m not even his fan.

  7. Just as when he had nine consecutive podiums it became clear that, one day, his good fortune would be over, know it’s very unlikely he’ll make yet another mistake. I bet he’ll be back, drive a brilliant race, and run very close to the Ferraris.

  8. Well, Lewis hasn’t really shown resilience when he needed to so far this year. I hope he manages to do better than last year, because quite frankly the media wth Hamilton is pretty ugly and in effect he’s becoming ugly like them. He needs to completely re-focus. He’s going on about the media, the fans, who’s on his side and blah blah blah. For flips sake Lewis, just shut up and drive. Plain and simple.

    Unfortunately, he’ll be chattering more than ever this weekend and I don’t think he’ll win. Ferrari are the faster car on these high speed corner circuits. The fact that Kimi still finished 2nd after such a serious mechanical issue in France is something to worry about. If that happened to a McLaren or another car, I’m quite positive they wouldn’t have finished the race. Same goes for the driver. Lewis really has to prove his mettle in the toughest conditions if he wants to ‘win the media/fans’ back. He needs to do it for himself actually.

    The best he can do is prepare for the race, not for qualifying. Last year he just went for a glory run in qualy, and was completely off it during the race. He’s probably learnt from that, but we’ll just have to wait and see. He can win, only if something strange happens with the Ferraris. And if that happens, first he has to be there to pick up the pieces, like in Monaco. But this is a different circuit, so it will be difficult for him. Best of luck to him.

  9. I think if it rains, or is changeable he will win

  10. I’m with Evenstar on this. Lewis needs to really get his focus back and reduce his off-track digressions about him being the Great among the minions and the whole world out to get him.

    This being his and his team’s home grand prix, I would expect the pressure to be mich higher than the usual. Which again needs him to focus more on the race and his driving.

    I haven’t seen him soak up pressure very well so far, so I do not expect him to beat Kimi or Massa for that sake, who happen to be in a better car and much lesser pressure. But I would be happy if he proves me wrong.

  11. Lewis has certainly proven that he’s capable of winning this event. Whether he will or not is up to the ever fickle GP Gods…or, god forbid, the FIA and some silly ruling.

  12. You guys complain about the Lewis hype, but blog posts like these aren’t exactly helping. The title is troll worthy and the content of the article is nothing but fluff.

  13. Well until you came along everyone seemed to be having a fairly reasonable discussion.

    Why did I write this article?

    (a) A driver winning their home Grand Prix doesn’t happen every day – in fact Hamilton and Massa are the only drivers with a realistic shot this year.

    (b) McLaren looked quicker than usual in testing (and I haven’t had time to do a round-up of what all the teams did at Silverstone).

    Hamilton may be hyped to a nauseating degree but it would be stupid to react to that by never mentioning him at all, or by only ever criticising him.

    Nor am I terribly impressed by accusations of “trolling” from someone hiding behind a fake name.

  14. The short answer is, yes he can. Looked at objectively, Lewis was inspired at Monaco, devastingly quick in Montreal before making error in an unpredictable situation, and then seriously quick in France (any analysis of the lap-time data from Magny Cours shows that he was on for at least fifth place and possibly a podium, bearing in mind that he was ahead of Kovalainen – who eventually finished fourth, metres behind Trulli in third – before receiving his hotly debated and rather marginal penalty.

    Can he soak up pressure? He seemed to in Hungary and Fuji last year. I wish I’d been so composed and mentally resilient at his age.

  15. My answer is 50/50. he can win but will he win is other story. He is under huge pressure and he really have not been good int hat kind of situation so far. Hill and Coulthard and Sir Jackie tried help him but his answer was “They do not know in what kind of situation i am.My fathers opinium is only what is matter and i listen him 99 %”
    That tells all i think. Honestly i will be sorry of him if he will not win. Pressure after that will brake him or make him stronger. It will be intresting weekend.

  16. I agree w/ the majority here that says Lewis gets pole but doesn’t win the race. I like Kimi to win from either 2nd or 3rd on the grid. It’s his turn to be heavier than Massa by 1-2 laps in quali (Ferrari are copying this year what McLaren did last year), so he can’t win pole, but will likely have the proper strategy to allow him to stay close to the leader in the 1st stint and win the race through the pit stops. Even if Lewis wins pole and Massa gets 2nd, we know Lewis can’t get too far away from the chasing Ferraris, and that plays right into Kimi’s strength, which is consistent ultra-fast pace over long runs. He should have won the last 2 races and this time there will be no pit collisions and no loose exhausts.

  17. Kimi should have had pole last year, but messed up the last corner. He’ll have it this year, along with the easy win with Kovalien 2nd, Kub 3rd. Massa & Hamilton DNF.

  18. Wish I could think of something bright and original to say in this blog, but I can’t cause pretty much everything I would have said, ‘F1Fan’ has said give or take……sooo…..um…..yeah.

    Right on F1Fan!!! :-)

  19. …don’t let your head get too big F1Fan but,I will have to agree with you as well.I think this one belongs to Kimi and,I would like to see him battle his way up front.

  20. The important thing for Hamilton is that he finishes this race with some serious points in the bag, it is time to think about the big picture.
    This also applies to McLaren as a whole too. Winning Silverstone would be a huge morale booster, but a season is many races, not one.
    The last thing that is needed is added pressure. On current form, Hamilton could have done without this kind of expectation. I am also wary of the power of the two Ferraris, especially Raikkonen.
    Lewis needs his head down, mouth in neutral, and that right foot firmly planted this weekend. This is halftime now, the second half awaits.
    He can afford no more screw ups.

  21. Ben Goldberg
    1st July 2008, 7:28

    Even if Hamilton is on his game, he won’t make up for the .5 second advantage Ferrari have on McLaren on this track. Unless it’s raining and/or there are 2 Ferrari DNF’s, there’s no way Hamilton wins. He should be able to get an easy third though, unless he screws up.

  22. It’s actually down to McLaren more than Lewis, to catch up with Ferrari on these circuits. There’s only so much an F1 driver can do nowadays.

  23. javier gran canaria
    1st July 2008, 20:07

    I only know that last year for this time every body, including Sir Jackie Stewart, was claiming that Lewis Hamilton was the best driver in the world. Now Sir Jackie Stewart continously excuses Lewis Hamilton’s errors due to his lack of concentration in crucial moments of the races. I think that Lewis needs to mature if he wants to win the championship.

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