Kimi Raikkonen has extended his championship lead with a dominant performance in the Spanish Grand Prix. The Finn led home his team-mate Felipe Massa, scoring the perfect result for the Scuderia.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was able to salvage third while his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was taken to hospital following a violent crash at Turn 9.
The Kovalainen incident occurred on lap 22 when he suffered a wheel-rim failure on the left-front tyre. The Finn crashed heavily into the tyre wall and it took a while to stabilise at the accident scene, but Heikki gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as he was taken by stretcher to the medical centre. Later he was flown to hospital for precautionary checks, and his condition was described as stable.
This incident ruined Nick Heidfeld’s race for BMW Sauber, as he was running a long refuelling strategy. With the safety car on track and the pit lane closed, the German had no choice but to make a pit stop. This resulted in a stop-go penalty that dropped him down the field and he finished a disappointing ninth at the flag.
At least Heidfeld made it to the end, as home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso suffered an engine failure despite starting on the front row. The Spaniard was running in fifth position until lap 35 when the problem occurred… Still, he should be satisfied that the Renault team has made a significant step forward in terms of competitiveness and hopes to challenge Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber in the following races.
Robert Kubica continue to score points for BMW Sauber with fourth while Mark Webber drove a solid race in the Red Bull to take fifth. As for Jenson Button, he was happy to score the Honda’s team first points of the season with sixth – all thanks to a good strategy call in the pits.
By contrast, Toyota’s Jarno Trulli had to make an additional stop and slipped down to eighth. Not a good result for the Italian after chasing Webber for most of the race…
With Trulli down a spot, Kazuki Nakajima in the Toyota-powered Williams took seventh. This was the Japanese best race performance this season.
Giancarlo Fisichella was unable to resist the charging Heidfeld, so brought his Force India home in tenth, ahead of Toyota’s Timo Glock, who delayed himself after running into the back of David Coulthard. The Scot’s left-rear tyre was cut as a result, so he also fell back but managed to re-pass Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato before the finish to claim twelfth spot.
Only thirteen cars made it to the chequered flag in an unusually high attrition rate at the Circuit de Catalunya. On the first lap, Adrian Sutil tried an ambitions move on Coulthard but ended up spinning into the path of the luckless Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso.
After qualifying in the top ten, Renault’s Nelson Piquet suffered a nightmare race with a trip across the gravel followed by a tangle with Vettel’s team-mate Sebastien Bourdais at Turn 10 as the Brazilian tried to recover from 18th position… Both cars retired with broken suspension.
Debris from Piquet’s car then punctured the radiator in Anthony Davidson’s Super Aguri, ending his race early.
As for the most experienced driver in Formula One, Rubens Barrichello will want to forget the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix after damaging his car’s front wing in the pit lane.
It may not have been a classic race, but it increased Raikkonen’s championship score to 29 points and his lead to nine over Hamilton (who is on 20). Felipe Massa jumps up to fourth on 18, one behind Kubica (19). Thanks to a one-two result in Barcelona, Ferrari re-take the lead in the constructors’ standing with 47, twelve ahead of BMW Sauber with McLaren-Mercedes a point behind.
Spanish Grand Prix result – 66 laps
1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1h38:19.051
2. MASSA Ferrari +3.2s
3. HAMILTON McLaren +4.1s
4. KUBICA BMW +5.6s
5. WEBBER Red Bull+35.9s
6. BUTTON Honda +53.0s
7. NAKAJIMA Williams +58.2s
8. TRULLI Toyota +59.4s
9. HEIDFELD BMW +63.0s
10. FISICHELLA Force India +1 lap
11. GLOCK Toyota +1 lap
12. COULTHARD Red Bull +1 lap
13. SATO Super Aguri +1 lap
R. ROSBERG Williams +25 laps
R. ALONSO Renault +32 laps
R. BARRICHELLO Honda +32 laps
R. KOVALAINEN McLaren +45 laps
R. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +58 laps
R. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso +59 laps
R. PIQUET Renault +60 laps
R. SUTIL Force India +66 laps
R. VETTEL Toro Rosso +66 laps
Fastest lap: RAIKKONEN 1m21.670s
Drivers’ championship standings:
1. Raikkonen 29
2. Hamilton 20
3. Kubica 19
4. Massa 18
5. Heidfeld 16
6. Kovalainen 14
7. Trulli 9
8. Webber 8
9. Rosberg 7
10. Alonso 6
11. Nakajima 5
12. Button 3
13. Bourdais 2
Constructors’ championship standings:
1. Ferrari 47
2. BMW Sauber 35
3. McLaren-Mercedes 34
4. Williams-Toyota 12
5. Toyota 9
6. Red Bull-Renault 8
7. Renault 6
8. Honda 3
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2
NEXT RACE: Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul. May 9-11