Monday, August 25, 2008

Valencia European Grand Prix

The first grand prix in Valencia got off to a cracking start with Felipe Massa stamping his authority on the field from pole position.
Lewis Hamilton held onto his second position despite suffering from flu-like symptoms and neck spasms before the race. Robert Kubica started from third and, after an incident with a plastic bag which lodged under his car during an early lap, added another good result to his scorecard this season. Current champion Kimi Raikkonen had an awful day. Starting fourth on the grid, he was quickly passed by Heikki Kovaleinen, still buoyant from his win in Hungary. Raikkonen fought back but, during his second pit stop, pulled away before the fuel hose had been removed and knocked over one of the pit crew. While the crew member was being treated for injured ribs and a damaged foot, Raikkonen’s engine blew up in a cloud of smoke, putting the Finn out of the race.

Renault driver Fernando Alonso had another bad day when Kazuki Nakajima (Williams) ran into the back of him on lap one, damaging the rear foil and forcing the Spaniard to retire.

Despite early predictions that this would be a good track for overtaking, there was no real evidence of this. The pace was such that few drivers were tempted into passing manoeuvres after the first lap.

The day clearly belonged to Felipe Massa as the Brazilian celebrated his 100th grand prix race with a convincing win, spoilt only by a 10,000 Euro penalty for the Ferrari Team when they released Massa alongside Adrian Sutil’s Force India after his second pit stop.

The top eight finishers were:
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 
2 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
3 Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)
4 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
5 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
6 Sebastian Vettel (STR-Ferrrari)
7 Timo Glock (BMW Sauber)
8 Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota)

After 12 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 70
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 64
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
4 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 55
5 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 43
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 41
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 26
8 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 18
9 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 18
10 Timo Glock (Toyota) 15

1 Ferrari 121
2 McLaren 113
3 BMW Sauber 96
4 Toyota 41
5 Renault 31

ps Is it me, or did the Ferrari crew ignore Raikkonen when he returned to the pits after his engine blew? I hope the fuel guy recovers soon.

Mike O’Neill

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