Ferrari’s Felipe Massa led home his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen with a dominant display in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix. The Brazilian led from the start and resisted a race-long pressure from Raikkonen to reignited his and Ferrari’s title challenge.
It was an important win for Massa as the team’s president Luca di Montezemolo had set a target of scoring 1-2 finishes in the remaining six races in order to turn the tables on rival McLaren. Now that we are heading into Ferrari’s home race in a fortnight’s time (Monza), the first stage of this target has been achieved.
It also helps that the championship leader Lewis Hamilton could only finish in fifth after suffering a puncture.
Hamilton was on course to finish in third but with just 15 laps to go, his front-right Bridgestone exploded… Luckily, he managed to get his car back to the pits but the consequent delay dropped him behind his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso – who had lost ground with a poor start – and BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.
And although he salvaged four points with fifth position, his misfortune gifted team-mate Alonso a podium, which allows the Spaniard to close within five points in the race for the drivers’ title.
The double world champion was lucky to inherit third as he made a poor getaway off the grid. In fact, neither McLarens got away well at the start of the race, with Hamilton immediately losing second to Raikkonen and Alonso dropping to sixth behind the two BMW Saubers.
Although the Spaniard managed to re-pass both Robert Kubica and Heidfeld during the first pit sequence, Alonso had already fallen 14 seconds adrift of the leaders by this time. He proceeded to match Hamilton’s pace, but could not gain any ground and would not have bettered fourth place if his team-mate’s race had run trouble-free.
Finishing in sixth went to Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen, who drove a strong race and at one point, actually led the Grand Prix! The Finn even had a opportunity to pass Hamilton’s damaged car in the closing stages of the race, but in the end Kovalainen crossed the line a second adrift behind the McLaren.
Nico Rosberg was another driver who put in a fine performance for Williams. The German finished in seventh, just about holding off the chasing Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. Kubica’s strategy of making early pit-stops cost the BMW Sauber driver dear, as he fell behind Alonso, Heidfeld and Kovalainen in the first sequence. And then he lost out another race position to Rosberg at the final stops.
But no such worries for Ferrari, as the team scored an impressive result. This was Massa’s second consecutive Turkish Grand Prix win and the Brazilian has significantly close the points gap between himself and the world championship leader Lewis Hamilton to just 15 points.
In the constructors’ championship, McLaren retain their lead with 148 points to Ferrari’s 137, while BMW Sauber are still a healthy third on 78 as the championship moves to Monza.
Turkish Grand Prix race result – 58 laps
1. MASSA Ferrari 1h26m42.161s
2. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +2.2s
3. ALONSO McLaren +26.1s
4. HEIDFELD BMW +39.6s
5. HAMILTON McLaren +45.0s
6. KOVALAINEN Renault +46.1s
7. ROSBERG Williams +55.7s
8. KUBICA BMW +56.7s
9. FISICHELLA Renault +59.4s
10. COULTHARD Red Bull +1m11.0s
11. WURZ Williams +1m19.6s
12. R SCHUMACHER Toyota +1 lap
13. BUTTON Honda +1 laps
14. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +1 laps
15. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +1 laps
16. TRULLI Toyota +1 lap
17. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
18. SATO Super Aguri +1 lap
19. VETTEL Toro Rosso +1 lap
20. YAMAMOTO Spyker +2 laps
21. SUTIL Spyker +5 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull +49 laps
Fastest lap: RAIKKONEN 1min. 27.295 secs