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

  1. hey all those massa fans think it will be hard on him to set such superhuman quick and consistent inlaps before a pitstop which raikkonen usually does nonchalantly which can be matched perhaps only by schumi.

  2. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 28th April 2008, 16:08

    theres no doubt that renault have made a step forward ok alonso was light in qualifying but in the 1st 3 races if hed run that light he wouldnt have got near the front row, also he was up there in q2 when all the drivers would be running about the same fuel.

    i dont know how anyone can criticise hamilton for the start he was being squeezed to the outside by kubica and probably didnt even no where kovaleinen was.

    this was kimis race before the start anyway he always runs a bit heavier than massa thats why massa tends to outqualify him. As some 1 mentioned the spanish grand prix usually shows the natural order and the fastest car of that season comes out on top.

    be intresting to see how renault do in turkey, wouldnt be suprised if they adopted a similar strategy, i think its better for them to start high and fall back a couple of places than start in the middle of the pack and struggle for points.

    ferrari will dominate in turkey so hamilton will have to win in monaco if hes going to have a chance this year, hel need abit of luck aswell kimi is diriving really well and the ferrari hasnt had many mechanical problems so far.

  3. Sri and Keith:

    I TOTALLY agree with managing the driver’s expectations Sri. I believe they are equals until qualifying and through the first lap. I don’t think you’ll ever see two Ferrari driver’s attempting to KO each other to grab first place on the opening lap ala Alonso/Hamilton last year.

    What I can’t grasp is how far off the pace Kimi was in Bahrain and Massa apparently slower in Barcelona and on a lighter fuel load. Bad set ups or something more along playing favs with the two drivers? I can’t imagine that, so I’ll go with poor setup/tire selections.

  4. Toncho said on 28th April 2008, 19:18

    Did anyone else had the impression that Kimi was happier to get the pole in BCN that last year in Brazil after winning the WCP? He was really a lot heavier that Massa so maybe it was a surprise even to him

  5. the limit said on 28th April 2008, 20:14

    To David.

     ‘A little imitation’ of NASCAR? Who would want F1 if they had to stop the race everytime it rained? Those are F1′s best races, besides, anyone can drive in a circle. Even Scott Speed won a race at the weekend.
    Oh, last time I can think of a move for the lead. Fernando
    Alonso on Felipe Massa, Nurburgring 2007. What a short memory some ‘fans’ have.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th April 2008, 20:18

    ‘The Limit’ – it’s not a question of ‘having short memories’ – it would be nice if F1 cars could race as closely in the dry as Alonso and Massa did that day, but the simple fact is they can’t and that has to change. There were two proper passes yesterday, and both were drivers in much faster cars going past drivers they would ordinarily be lapping.

  7. Kanyima said on 28th April 2008, 20:44

    Montmelo is said to be one of the most difficult circuits on which to overtake, thus perhaps the procession that we saw in yesterday’s race. But why are some circuits so unfair on overtaking than others. Shouldn’t FIA  widen them to allow this and make F1 more interesting?

  8. the limit said on 28th April 2008, 22:23

    I agree Keith, but it bothers me that everybody is blaming the design of the cars. Everybody claimed that banning traction control would help, it hasn’t. The racing is still the same, nothing has changed.
    Nobody has mentioned the circuits. Nobody talks about the way modern F1 tracks are designed. In the majority of cases, overtaking is only possible in one or two corners, mostly turn one. Barcelona is a classic example, so is Hungary.
    The new circuits (i.e Bahrain, Turkey) for me anyhow, do not inspire great excitement. The old Hockenheim, Spa, Monza, now those are the circuits that ‘should’ be the template for all the others. There has been too much ‘dumbing’ down of the tradition circuits, too many chicanes removed (i.e The Bustop at Spa) that were a challenge to the drivers.
    Ofcourse, this is not the only reason, but it has played a huge part in the sport losing some of its gloss and excitement in recent years.
    As for David, I may have gotten a little irritated at his remarks comparing F1 to NASCAR, which to quote Juan Pablo Montoya is like ‘comparing a sports car to a truck’.
    Both series are very successfull and have millions of loyal fans, but they are chalk and cheese, they are totally different.
    You cannot solve F1′s problems by using NASCAR solutions, unless you want to see four Ferrari’s on the track at the same time. 

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th April 2008, 22:40

    I don’t think many people thought the traction control ban was going to solve the problem.

    I think most people were glad to get rid of it because it put more of the control of the car in the hands of the drivers, rather than the electronics.

    You’re exactly right though, that "You cannot solve F1’s problems by using NASCAR solutions." I don’t want everyone in identical cars, I don’t want four hour races with eight pit stops where only the last ten minutes matter, I don’t want ‘caution periods’ happening at the merest provocation just for a flimsy excuse to bunch the field up.

    The tracks are by and large fine. The problem is the cars. Within a couple of laps at Catalunya all the drivers were over a second apart. At 200mph that’s 88 metres. There is no way we are going to see overtaking at most circuits until the cars can follow each other closely, and at the moment that is entirely down to the aerodynamics.

    Let me just add one last thing. The problem here isn’t  imply "not enough overtaking" – that’s part of it, but not all of it. The problem is quality of racing.

    When the cars have to run so far apart there is not even the possibility or potential for one driver to pass another – often even if the leading driver makes a mistake. If the cars could run as close as, say, GP2 cars can, the racing would appear much better even if their ability to overtake was only modestly improves.

    F1 does not need 200 passes per race. But it needs more than 2, as we had yesterday.

  10. david said on 29th April 2008, 2:40

    I fully understand that to do a straight F1 to NASCAR comparison is fair to neither series.  NASCAR has plenty of weaknesses. Most races are too long – one canwatch the start of a race, then mow the grass, take the dog for a walk, wash the car and return to the race having missed very little.  But their cars do compete.  They run side by side. In F1, a car is following close if it is 2 seconds behind the car in front of it.  To me, that just is not good racing. 

    I very much enjoy the level of technology that exist throughout F1. One would think, however, that it could be used to make the series the most competitve in the world, not one of the least.

  11. Sri said on 29th April 2008, 6:26

    Scootin159

    Rubinho and Fisico were in the pits and were trying to get out, at once. Well, the pitlane is only so wide, you know. :D

  12. Sri said on 29th April 2008, 6:39

    Thanks for correcting me Journeyer. I actually missed the Race-day part, where they introduce the commentators and other guests. So it was a guesstimate on my part(well it is Mr. Goodwin on regularly).

  13. Excellent, onwards and upwards for Ferrari, good thing is that no one quite knows if they could have gone much faster….pressure

  14. Toncho said on 29th April 2008, 8:46

    Banning TC have actualy made overtaking more difficult no the other way round!!! After Australia we were really excited but as a matter of fact, drivers realised how risky is to overtake with no TC (see RAI for instance). If you think about it, leaving aside the first turns we haven’t seen much action this year and most of the time there were faster cars overtaking the slower ones.
    I hope that slics and the new aerodinamic rules coming in 2009 will bring some more action.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th April 2008, 8:53

    Toncho, when you say "see Raikkonen for instance" I don’t know what you’re referring to.

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