Raikkonen leads crushing Ferrari one-two

2008 Spanish Grand Prix review

Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Barcelona, podium, 2008, 470150

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa’s winning margin of 0.9s over Lewis Hamilton suggests the Spanish Grand Prix was a close run thing. In fact it was anything but, and a Ferrari one-two looked like an inevitability from the first corner.

Hamilton came out on top of a three-way fight for third that was contested entirely on a strategic level, with no-one looking in any danger of making a move on the track.

But a stark reminder of the real dangers of Formula 1 came as Heikki Kovalainen crashed heavily at turn nine and there was relief all round when it emerged the McLaren driver had not suffered serious injury.

Red-wash

Events swung in Ferrari’s favour before the race had even begun. Fernando Alonso got on the accelerator too hard warming his tyres up on the formation lap and spun across the grass on the inside of the last corner, narrowly missing the barrier.

With dirty tyres it was scarcely a surprise to see him beaten off the line by Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, the Brazilian taking up station behind his team mate.

Behind Alonso, Robert Kubica struggled to get the BMW away quickly again having voiced concerns earlier about the clutch on his F1.08. Lewis Hamilton threaded his McLaren through a narrow gap between Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen to move up to fourth.

Toro Rossos out early

Adrian Sutil made an optimistic attempt to pass David Coulthard at turn four on the first lap and spun his Force India. He was collected by – who else – Sebastian Vettel, the German retiring on the first lap just as he has in Bahrain.

That brought the safety car out for two laps, and once it went back in Nelson Piquet Jnr spun off to resume in 18th. He moved to pass Sebastien Bourdais on the sixth lap and the pair collided. Piquet had moved alongside Bourdais as the Frenchman was turning into La Caixa, and it seemed as though the sidepod-mounted mirrors on the Toro Rosso had prevented him from seeing Piquet coming.

Also out at the same time was Anthony Davidson’s Super Aguri. His radiator ingested gravel from Piquet’s earlier spin and failed soon afterwards.

Alonso drops back – and out

Alonso’s second place on the grid had sent the crowd into rapture but left everyone else wondering if the R28 was quicker or just light on fuel.

The answer came on lap 16 when the home driver pitted, three laps before Massa. Raikkonen was in on lap 21 followed by Hamilton and Kubica on the 22nd tour – both getting out ahead of the Renault. All the same the R28 was clearly quicker than it had been in the first three races of the year.

It wouldn’t last much longer, however. A rare engine failure sidelined Alonso, who acknowledged the applause of the fans that had packed into the Catalunya circuit in their thousands once again.

Horror crash for Heikki

Alonso’s retirement came after the second, much longer safety car interruption of the day.

Heikki Kovalainen was leading the race when his car speared straight on at turn nine, hitting a tyre barrier wrapped in a conveyor belt almost head-on at around 140mph at a force of up to 29G.

It was a shocking scene as the McLaren had clearly ‘submarined’ underneath the tyres – exactly what the conveyor belt is supposed to prevent. The marshals had to pull the car out to reach Kovalainen. He was quickly taken to the medical centre where his injuries were revealed to be limited to concussion, and he was taken to hospital for checks.

Mclaren suggested the accident was caused by damage to the wheel rim caused by something getting into it – most likely a stone, as had caused Davidson’s problem.

Races ruined by safety car appearance

Meanwhile the field queued behind the safety car for several laps and, coming in the middle of a sequence of pit stops, this played havoc with some unfortunate drivers races. The worst affected was new race leader Nick Heidfeld, who’d carried a heavier fuel load, and was forced to pit during the safety car despite the pit lane being closed and incur a penalty.

The poorly thought out change to the rules that was introduced last year ruined another driver’s race, and a change is not expected until the Monaco Grand Prix next month.

It also went wrong for Rubens Barrichello, who in his record-equalling 256th Grand Prix start succeeded in knocking the nose off the front of his Honda and having to retire. On lap 42 Nico Rosberg joined him on the sidelines with a broken engine.

Points on offer for lower teams

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button, Barcelona, 2008, 470313

The unusual string of retirements left the way clear for several drivers to pick up rare points. For a while it looked as though Takuma Sato might claim a dream points finish for the beleaguered Super Aguri team, the Japanese driver running as high as ninth before his second pit stop.

It was Jenson Button and Honda who exploited the unreliability to best effect, claiming sixth place and the teams’ first points of the season.

But there was still more incident further down the field as Timo Glock braked too late at Renault and tagged David Coulthard’s Red Bull. Coulthard suffered a burst rear tyre and Glock also headed for the pits with a broken front nose. The stewards investigated the incident but took no action.

Coulthard provided one of the races few passing moves as he recovered to pass Takuma Sato. Nick Heidfeld did the same with Giancarlo Fisichella, sweeping around the Force India driver at turn one.

Raikkonen romps home

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2008, 470313

Raikkonen never once looked like losing the lead and confirmed afterwards that the Ferraris had time in hand: “We could have run a bit faster but [there's] no point to push when you don’t need to.”

Raikkonen controlled the pace in the later stages even as his team mate began to be caught by Hamilton. It looked like an exercise in winning at the slowest possible speed. But is Raikkonen beginning to think Massa might be his closest competitor in the championship battle, and it’s no bad thing if Hamilton takes the odd point off him?

The British driver was third ahead of Kubica who had another strong race. Mark Webber took fifth place and Button was a happy sixth. Kazuki Nakajima was seventh ahead of Jarno Trulli, who reckoned he’d have finished sixth had he not gone into the pits by mistake on one lap.

Heidfeld ended up ninth ahead of Fisichella, who gave Force India their first top ten finish. Glock, Coulthard and Sato were the remaining finishers.

The next track on the calendar is Istanbul in two weeks’ time. It’s another Ferrari stronghold, and a repeat performance for the red team there would make it highly unlikely that anyone is going to beat them to this year’s championship.

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53 comments on Raikkonen leads crushing Ferrari one-two

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  1. Your comment concerning Massa "taking up station" behind Kimi is why Ferrari will win it all this year. They know how to manage drivers expectations. There is little doubt in my mind Felipe could have pressed Kimi given the clearance, but he knew his role was to play wing man to the leader.

    If Felipe had taken pole I’m sure the expectations and results would have been reversed. Congrats to all Ferrari fans, McLaren have have a long row to hoe!

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th April 2008, 19:39

    If that’s true George, then why did they let him win the last race?

  3. Nico Savidge said on 27th April 2008, 20:10

    Ferrari have basically realized that (at least in circuits that favor their car, i.e. Bahrain and Barcelona) they can basically choose which driver will win the race. There’s no question Kimi Raikkonen is going to be the #1 there this year, and that’s why he won today - but I’d guess that Ferrari gave Massa a win in Bahrain to get the media off of him and the team. I just hope this doesn’t result in, as one F1 fanatic commentor put it, the "no, sir, after you" races from 2002…

  4. Cristina said on 27th April 2008, 20:33

    Congrats to Ferrari.
    What is happening this year with McLaren? 
    Finally, and althouth he couldnt’ finish the race, Alonso is achiving something even for all his fans unexpected, he is not only one of the best drivers, he is contribuiting to improve the car as no many drivers could. And this is for me the biggest sorprise of this race. 

  5. Kani said on 27th April 2008, 21:54

    Cristina, Mclaren are going through a bad patch at the moment just like Ferrari in the first half of the season. They can’t be discounted just yet.
    And I’m sure all drivers contribute to improving their cars, so Alonso is not the exception here. He’s doing a great job but so are the others, their jobs depend on it, remember.

  6. Generally Ferrari asks drivers to hold station after 2nd pit stop(except Austria 2002 and Indy 2004 was it?), which is quite a well known fact. How do i know it? Well their drivers have recounted in countless post race interviews. So, Massa led the 1-2 in Bahrain and now Kimi did in Spain.

    There are 2 theories Cristina(on a cheeky note):
    i) No experienced driver to set-up the car proper, &
    ii) No new data from Ferrari has come in.

  7. Kris said on 27th April 2008, 23:05

    My surprise of the race was simply how small the difference in fuel loads was between Alonso’s renault and the leaders.

    I was honestly expecting 5 or 6 from the first stoppers and 8-9 from the 2nd batch.

    Although I fundamentally disagree with those who try to "fuel adjust" qualifying performances to give an idea of who did well during qualifying (my objections are based on lack of precision) I expect alonso will have come much higher up such adjusted tables than he would usually.

  8. Sush said on 27th April 2008, 23:20

    anyone stating that Ferrari favour one guy over the other on a track is talking rubbish.  Ferrari favour the guy leading the pack midway.  Its why Kimi and "flip flops" attack each other at the start, but not after 30 laps.

  9. I think its too early in the season to discount McLaren. We can only begin to tell after a few more races and I am quite happy to see BMW being  more competitive than last year.

  10. david said on 27th April 2008, 23:36

    As a long time devotee of F1, I suffered the ignonimity of falling asleep halfway through todays race. At what point will the powers that be realize that cars following each other around the track is a PARADE, not a race. I would defy anyone to tell me the last that there was a pass for the lead in an F1 race, and passes during pits don’t count. I just finished watching the NASCAR race, and while I don’t suggest that F1 should become a copycat of the meaningless passfest that NASCAR is, a little imitation would not hurt. Commentators here in the US contend that passing in F1 is difficult because the cars are so closely matched.  This is BS. There are 11 different teams and 5 different engines in F1.  NASCAR is basically a spec car series, with 4 different engines and no one can argue that the COMPETITION is not closer in NASCAR.  F1 is doing its best to become irrelevant.

  11. Nico Savidge said on 27th April 2008, 23:40

    Sush: I don’t think we can say Ferrari gives equal footing to all drivers. Think about Austria in ’02, when Rubens Barichello basically pulled over and let Michael Schumacher through to win the race, or Brazil this year, when their strategy allowed Kimi Raikkonen to overtake Felipe.

  12. Number 38 said on 28th April 2008, 0:38

    David post 10 above: "… I suffered the ignonimity of falling asleep"  "F1….is a PARADE, not a race."   What took so long to figure that out?  But you diagnosis is correct…."F1 is doing its best to become irrelevant." 

    And for Nico post 11 above…….Ferrari at Brazil last year……..
    was more likely SPORTSMANSHIP on the part of Massa, winning that race would have denied his teammate the Drivers Championship.  Not only did Massa give the race to Kimi he then HAD to finish in 2nd place to prevent an Alonso point!
    Like it or not, Massa is a CHAMPION.

  13. theRoswellite said on 28th April 2008, 2:17

    Thoughts on race:  
        -Heikki is safe.
        -Hopefully Alonso & Renault "are back"….sorta.
        -Kimi has another gear.
        -Red seems to be the color of our immediate future.
        -I will miss Super Best Friends.

     

  14. Gman said on 28th April 2008, 4:05

    I don’t know if it was some sort of team orders or just good sportsmanship form Felipe last season at Brazil, but if he diden’t let Kimi through it would have been a big disappointment for the drivers, team and millions of Tifosi. It was the right thing to do in my humble opinion- Massa may not have won the race, but he helped bring a huge accomplishment to the team.

    David, great to see another American tuning in for F1! I’ve just started watching the sport and was drawn to it in part because it was not the NASCAR-type passfest you have mentioned, and there is a degree of teamwork involved in designing and producing a quality car Still, when a race is essentially determined in qualifying at a track such as this one, it turns potential new fans awayand dosen’t do the sport any good. Hopefully some of the new regulations changes I’ve heard so much about will do something to help this cause enxt season.

  15. "Like it or not, Massa is a CHAMPION." Tell me that when he WINS a championship, not before. Massa allowing Raikkonen the win in Brazil was business, nothing to do with sportsmanship. I believe Ferrari extended Felipe’s contract the week before the GP race. And you’d better believe that Massa’s cooperation in that final race was part of the price. It was his home race, there is no place in the world he would have preferred to win. All credit to him for deferring, but it was all business.

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