Ferrari’s Felipe Massa cast aside the disappointment in Malaysia with a commanding victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Brazilian lead from the start and despite a closing Lewis Hamilton in the final laps, Massa held the advantage to score his third career Grand Prix win. The McLaren driver continues his impressive performance with second and this latest achievement means he has become the first man ever to finish on the podium in his first three races. Melbourne Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen finished in third.
Behind the leading three, BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld drove a fantastic race to finish ahead of the double world champion, Fernando Alonso, with a dramatic pass around the outside of the Spaniard on lap 32.
The result means there is a three-way tie for the championship lead, with Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton tied on 22 points. Race winner Massa moves up to fourth on 17, with Heidfeld fifth on 15.
This year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was all about the private duel between Massa and Hamilton. Following on from last week’s dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix, the two drivers were starting at the front determined to settle the score.
In the end, the Ferrari driver had the fastest car around Sakhir and it certainly helps when rival McLaren suffered a weak middle stint running on the ‘option’ tyre… But the team came back with a vengeance in the final stint running the harder compound Bridgestones. But it was too little too late.
During that weak phrase for McLaren, Alonso was struggling with his MP4-22 and not only did he lost a race position to Raikkonen in the first round of pit stops, but the world champion also lost track position when he was overtaken by Heidfeld’s fast BMW-Sauber.
With fourth and sixth positions – Heidfeld and Robert Kubica respectively – BMW-Sauber achieved a great result in Bahrain and are genuinely the third best team in Formula One.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli finished in a fine seventh after an exciting mid-race contest between the engine-supplied Williams drivers of Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz. Both fell back in the late stages of the race, so the final points position went to Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella – who finished ahead of his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.
The two Williams drivers eventually finished in 10th and 11th, helped on their way by the retirements of both Red Bulls. Despite starting at the back, David Coulthard drove a storming race but neither he nor team-mate Mark Webber made it home to the chequered flag…Nor did the Toro Rossos, as Scott Speed was involved in a first lap collision with Honda’s Jenson Button, and Tonio Liuzzi being delayed by the same incident and eventually retiring.
The championship resumes in a month’s time at the Circuit de Catalunya and with three of the leading drivers tied on the same 22 points, it will be a fascinating to see who will achieve the greater success in this competitive Formula One season.
Bahrain Grand Prix race result (57 laps)
1. MASSA Ferrari 1 hr. 33 mins. 27.515 secs
2. HAMILTON McLaren +2.360s
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +10.839s
4. HEIDFELD BMW +13.831s
5. ALONSO McLaren +14.426s
6. KUBICA BMW +45.529s
7. TRULLI Toyota +1m21.371s
8. FISICHELLA Renault +1m21.701s
9. KOVALAINEN Renault +1m29.411s
10. ROSBERG Williams +1m29.916s
11. WURZ Williams +1 lap
12. SCHUMACHER Toyota +1 lap
13. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
14. ALBERS Spyker +2 laps
15. SUTIL Spyker +4 laps
R. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +5 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull +15 laps
R. COULTHARD Red Bull +20 laps
R. SATO Super Aguri +22 laps
R. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +30 laps
R. BUTTON Honda +56 laps
R. SPEED Toro Rosso +56 laps
Fastest lap: MASSA 1m34.067s