Hamilton wins German Grand Prix

An emotional Lewis Hamilton produced one of the finest wins of his career on Sunday, when he confirmed McLaren's Formula One renaissance with a dazzling victory in the German Grand Prix.

Hamilton wins German Grand Prix
Photo: DPA

It was the Briton’s second win of the year and 16th of his career and not only revitalised McLaren, but also proved once again that runaway leader Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team are not invincible.

The 26-year-old, who started from second on the grid at the Nürburgring, took the lead from the start and delivered a well-judged race and some flamboyant passing moves, supported by excellent strategy, to resist strong challenges from his rivals.

“That was one of the best races that I have ever done,” said a delighted Hamilton, after winning for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix in April. “We didn’t expect to come here and be so fast and really I just could not be feeling any better.

“It was just great and we have to keep pushing. These are the results that we can get – the car was really nice to drive. A fantastic job and fantastic win.”

The 2008 champion controlled the race almost entirely, but had to fight at times to retain his advantage as he came home 3.9 seconds ahead of second placed Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Two-time champion Alonso, who won the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, finished a strong second ahead of third-placed Australian Mark Webber, the pole-sitter, of Red Bull and his team-mate defending champion Vettel, in fourth, after a brilliant final pit stop saw him move up from fifth in the pit lane.

Vettel remains out in front of the title race by 77 points with 216 ahead of Webber on 139 and Hamilton, now third, on 134. Alonso is fourth on 130.

In the constructors’ championship, Red Bull lead with 355 points ahead of McLaren on 243 while Ferrari are third on 192.

McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh was delighted with Hamilton’s performance, despite seeing Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, forced to retire with hydraulics problems.

“What a fantastic race,” he said. “You had three teams, three drivers, really battling it out. Lewis just drove a fantastic race. We were very nervous all the way through to be honest.”

Alonso said: “I am extremely happy with today’s result. We had a weekend that probably was not the easiest one. We struggled a bit on Friday, in qualifying we were fourth, half a second from pole so no doubts that we struggled a bit more with the weekend.

“But even with the difficulties we are second and fighting for victory, so this is a fantastic achievement. Second in Valencia, first at Silverstone and second here.”

Webber, beaten from pole for the second successive race, said: “We weren’t quick enough. I did everything I could. I’m happy with the way I drove, but these guys had a bit of an extra margin, especially in the back part of the stints. That made us a little bit exposed on strategy.”

It was runaway leader Vettel’s worst finish of a dominant season and signaled that, at last, the Red Bull team may have a battle on their hands in

the second half of the year.

“We have to accept that today other people were quicker than us, and sure, I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied,” said Vettel. “I didn’t feel too good all weekend, I never got to the pace Mark (Webber) had in his car.”

Felipe Massa came home fifth for Ferrari ahead of Germans Adrian Sutil of Force India, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and his team-mate, seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.

Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was ninth for Sauber, after starting 17th, and Russian Vitaly Petrov 10th for Renault.


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From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla’s giant Berlin car factory

In the green forest outside Berlin, a David and Goliath-style battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned "gigafactory".

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla's giant Berlin car factory
Tesla's gigafactory outside the doors of Berlin. dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I couldn’t believe it,” said Steffen Schorch, driving his trusty German-made car.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July.

“Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark – but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters – residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful
environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

READ MORE: Is Germany’s Volkswagen becoming ‘the new Tesla’ as it ramps up e-vehicle production?

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption – which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic metres a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region.

Tesla Street

“The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighbourhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s environment minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now”.

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares – equivalent to approximately 560 football fields – southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world”,
according to group boss Elon Musk.

In a little over a year and a half, swathes of coniferous forest have already been cleared to make way for vast concrete rectangles on a red earth base, accessed via the already iconic Tesla Strasse (Tesla Street).

German bureaucracy

The new site still has only provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk.

Final approval depends on an assessment of the project’s environmental impact – including the issue of water.

In theory, if approval is not granted, Tesla will have to dismantle the entire complex at its own expense.

But “pressure is being exerted (on the regulatory authorities), linked to Tesla’s significant investment”, Gruene Liga’s Michael Greschow told AFP.

In early April, Tesla said it was “irritated” by the slow pace of German bureaucracy, calling for exceptions to the rules for projects that help the environment.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier agreed in April that his government “had not done enough” to reduce bureaucracy, lauding the gigafactory as a “very important project”.

Despite Germany’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often held up by bureaucracy criticised as excessive by the business community.

Among the most embarrassing examples are Berlin’s new airport which opened last October after an eight-year delay and Stuttgart’s new train station, which has been under construction since 2010.

Brandenburg’s economy minister, Joerg Steinbach, raised the possibility in February that the Tesla factory could be delayed beyond its July planned opening for the same reason.

SEE ALSO: Tesla advertises over 300 jobs for new Gigafactory near Berlin