17 June 2007
US 2007: Stonewall Hamilton takes Brickyard win.
If Lewis Hamilton's maiden Formula One victory resembled a stroll in the park - albeit one interrupted by safety cars periods - his second shown composure under a different kind of pressure as McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso harried him to the flag at Indianapolis.
Despite the Spaniard suggesting that he would not be averse to making the sort of first corner lunge that has backfired on him twice already this season, Hamilton was allowed relatively clear passage into the opening right-left combination as Alonso tucked in behind the poleman, reckoning his start not quite good enough to warrant an assault.
Felipe Massa duly slotted in behind the two McLarens from third on the grid, but Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen again lost out after a tardy start, the Finn's decision to take the harder Bridgestone tyres to the grid suffering an immediate setback as he dropped behind not only Nick Heidfeld, but also Heikki Kovalainen.
Heidfeld's BMW team-mate Sebastian Vettel showed his lack of experience at the first corner, the debutant spearing across the grass as he carried too much speed to the turn, but that was minor compared to what was going on in his mirrors. David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher were always expected to be close off the line, having qualified together on row six, but neither would have expected the fast-starting Rubens Barrichello to appear between them as they prepared to turn in.
Caught in a pincer movement, the Brazilian appeared to tag Schumacher's left rear wheel, turning the luckless German into Coulthard, ending his race on the spot with frontal damage to the Toyota. DC and Barrichello both made it back to the pits for assessment before being told that their races were also over.
Benefiting from the melee were both Toro Rosso drivers - Tonio Liuzzi up to twelfth and Scott Speed to 15th - and Spyker's Adrian Sutil, who found himself in the rarefied atmosphere of 14th and ahead of the Super Aguris and Honda's Jenson Button, who had lost out perhaps worst of all. Giancarlo Fisichella then joined the Briton at the back of the field, the Renault driver spinning on his own at turn four and only retaking the track after a long detour through the gravel trap, another promising situation negated.
While Fisico embarked on a comeback of sorts, the race at the front appeared to be all about Hamilton, the leader easing out a bigger advantage over his team-mate with each passing lap. Both started, like the majority of the pack, on the softer Bridgestones and, by lap five, the Briton was nearly two seconds to the good, while Alonso enjoyed a similarly healthy gap back to Massa as McLaren confirmed that it was the class of the field once again.
By lap ten, with Fisichella having passed Christijan Albers, Anthony Davidson and Button to reclaim 16th, Hamilton's lead was up to 2.2secs, with Heidfeld and Kovalainen continuing to frustrate Raikkonen and Liuzzi doing likewise to Alex Wurz - who took repeated looks at the Toro Rosso on the run to turn one - Sutil, Takuma Sato and Speed.
Wurz believed that he had the place won on lap twelve, the Williams dummying one way then the other before claiming the inside line for turn one - only to run wide form his shallow entry and hand the position back again. The Austrian had only been able to make his move following the removal of the yellow flags that had flown since the lap one incident, and therefore did not incur the wrath of the stewards - unlike Sato.
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