Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Hamilton holds slight edge going into tight F1 race

AP, HOCKENHEIM , GERMANY

Lewis Hamilton holds a slight edge going into this weekend’s German Grand Prix, which sets off what is likely to be a dramatic second half to the Formula One season since only two points separate the four drivers at the top the overall standings.

Hamilton, coming off a 68-second victory at Silverstone for his third win of the season, is tied with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen with 48 points, though the McLaren driver leads on a tiebreaker. BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica trails the leaders with 46 points.

Hamilton goes into the 31st running of the German GP at the Hockenheim circuit as a rookie since he has never raced the 4.574km track in a Formula One car.

The 23-year-old Briton has already buried the memories of that last victory in front of his home crowd — the most dominant F1 win in 13 years.

“It’s going to be difficult to cap that. But I’m going to have to put it to the back of my mind because there are still nine races and the championship to keep pushing for,” Hamilton said on Thursday. “We are just going to focus on trying to build up some momentum and consistency.”

Teams are well-prepared for the challenges of 67 laps around this circuit after testing last week. Raikkonen is holding out for high temperatures in hopes of avoiding another unpredictable race, as has been seen recently. The weather outlook includes the chance of rain.

“Our car goes really well at high temperatures and also the tire-wear is not too high. So I really hope it will be hot,” said Raikkonen, the defending world champion, who has finished on the podium only once in his last four races.

With every point counting, the slightest of errors will prove costly down the stretch.

“I’ve always said that the championship will be very uncertain. I had the possibility to win the last three races, but for one reason or the other things didn’t go the right way. But that’s racing and I’m sure I’ll win again soon,” said the 28-year-old Finn, who has two victories this season.

Though McLaren and Ferrari remain the favorites in Germany, BMW Sauber remains close in the hunt for a drivers’ and constructors’ title.

The Germans trail leader Ferrari by 14 points in the constructors’ table, while Kubica has been at the front of the field all season to challenge for the championship.

But teammate Nick Heidfeld, who clinched his third runner-up finish of the season with an excellent drive at the British GP, could give the German fans someone to cheer for in the absence of Michael Schumacher.

Heidfeld, who trails the leaders by 10 points, is still chasing a maiden victory in his 142nd start.

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