Hamilton wins at Hockenheim
McLaren error forces Brit to work for win
Lewis Hamilton has taken the outright lead in the World Championship after taking victory in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
However, the McLaren Mercedes driver was made to work for his victory after his team made an apparent error in its race strategy following an accident suffered by Toyota's Timo Glock mid-way through the race.
Hamilton's dominant lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa was whittled away after the safety car was deployed but, with his rivals taking advantage of a free pit stop, his race was then almost ruined by McLaren's decision to keep him out.
In contrast, and after starting 17th on the grid, the safety car proved a boon to Renault and Nelson Piquet, the rookie making his only stop of the race just prior to Glock's accident and able to grab the lead late on.
McLaren gambled that Hamilton's pace would be sufficient for him to build a gap that would enable him to maintain his lead after he made his second stop. However, that proved not to be the case and the Englishman fell to fifth.
But Hamilton responded by clawing his way back, passing both Massa and Piquet in smart fashion to take his second successive chequered flag following his British Grand Prix success a fortnight ago.
Piquet thus scored Renault's first podium of the season with second place, while Massa finished third ahead of BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen.
World Champion Kimi Raikkonen came home sixth, while BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel took the final Championship points.
On the crest of a wave following his Silverstone success and also benefiting from a car which has shown improved performance of late, Hamilton appeared to be brimming with confidence all weekend.
That much was apparent in his pole position on Saturday and also in the 1.8-second lead he enjoyed over Massa at the end of lap one of the race - Kubica the other big gainer off the line after passing Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trull.
Raikkonen soon passed Alonso for sixth, the Finn taking advantage of a botched attempt by the Spaniard to pass Trulli. But the advantage Hamilton enjoyed was evident in the 19 second lead he enjoyed over the fifth-placed Italian by lap 11.
The race leader was lapping 0.6-0.7 seconds per lap quicker than Massa at this stage and setting fastest laps at will as he built an 11-second lead by lap 17.
Hamilton made his opening stop at the end of lap 18 and, momentarily, rejoined ahead of Trulli; the Toyota then got by but pitted at the end of the lap, meaning Hamilton did not lose too much time.
Massa inherited the lead until he stopped two laps later, with Kovalainen doing the same at the end of lap 21 and Raikkonen following him one lap later.
With the order settling back down after the long-fuelled Glock pitted from third on lap 30, Hamilton held a 10.4-second lead over Massa, with Kovalainen ahead of Kubica.
Raikkonen vaulted Trulli for fifth, with Vettel and Glock certainly performing on home ground, the German youngsters now both ahead of Alonso in ninth - the double World Champion's race engineer telling him over the radio to get a move on.
However, Glock had a huge off coming out of the final turn on lap 36, the right rear suspension failing on his Toyota and the car then slamming rearwards into the pit wall at barely unabated speed.
As the shell-shocked driver extracted himself from his wrecked chassis, the safety car was deployed. Cars started pitting on lap 38, with Hamilton alone among the leading cars in not diving in.
Heidfeld and Piquet also stayed out, climbing to second and third in the process and, as the safety car pulled in at the end of lap 40, Hamilton set about trying to rebuild his lead.
Kovalainen passed Kubica for fourth on lap 44 while Alonso's attempts to pass Vettel - who had earlier blocked him exiting the pitlane - instead saw him move backwards to 11th, with Raikkonen and Rosberg getting ahead out of the hairpin.
Hamilton's advantage over the fourth-placed Massa stood at only 15.7 seconds when he made his second stop on lap 50. He therefore rejoined only fifth behind his team-mate and passed Kovalainen at the hairpin one lap later.
With 15 laps left, Heidfeld now held a 13.4s lead over Piquet, with Massa two seconds behind the Renault and Hamilton 3.9s further back. The BMW Sauber then pitted, rejoining behind Hamilton.
Piquet thus led Massa and Hamilton - the gap between the three cars increasingly visible. The McLaren took second place at the hairpin on lap 57 and then set about closing the 2.1-second gap to the Renault.
In the event it took Hamilton only two laps to pass Piquet - the hairpin once again the place to pass. With Raikkonen passing Kubica for sixth place late on, Piquet's lead over Massa was sufficient for him to consolidate second place.
Trulli went backwards from fourth on the grid to eventually finish ninth while, on a bad day for Alonso's side of the Renault garage, he remained 11th following a late spin.
Hamilton now leads Massa by four points in the Drivers' Championship, with Raikkonen a further three points behind in third.
German Grand Prix, result:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1hr 31mins 20.874 secs
2. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault +00:05.586 secs
3. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 00:09.339
4. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 00:09.825
5. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 00:12.411
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:14.483
7. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 00:22.603
8. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 00:33.282
9. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 00:37.199
10. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 00:37.658
11. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 00:38.625
12. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 00:39.111
13. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 00:54.971
14. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India-Ferrari 00:59.093
15. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 01:00.003
16. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 01:09.488
17. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1 lap
r. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 17 laps
r. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 27 laps
r. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 35 laps
(rank: r = retired)
Fastest Lap: Nick Heidfeld, 1:15.987, lap 52.