Bridgestone Motorsport's Spanish Grand Prix report
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) has won the fourth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship from pole position after using a medium-medium-hard compound Bridgestone Potenza tyre strategy in the Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Raikkonen was joined on the podium by team-mate Felipe Massa and McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Finishing fourth was Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) and illustrating the close nature of the racing in Barcelona, the top four were separated by only 5.7 seconds after the 66 lap race.
Fifth spot went to Mark Webber (Red Bull) with Jenson Button (Honda) taking sixth. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams) finished seventh and Jarno Trulli (Toyota) took the final championship point.
The race saw two safety car periods. The first was caused by an incident between three cars on the first lap. The second occurred on the 21st lap after McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen experienced a sudden tyre deflation. Investigations continue, but it is thought that the deflation was likely to have been the result of a wheel rim failure. The Finn crashed into the barriers and was subsequently examined in the medical centre and air-lifted to hospital for observation.
Tyre performance from the hard and medium Bridgestone Potenza tyres was strong in the race and the majority of drivers used a medium-medium-hard strategy to achieve their result. The race's fastest lap, a 1min 21.670secs, was set by Raikkonen on lap 46 using the medium compound tyre.
Leaving Barcelona, Raikkonen leads the drivers' championship with 29 points, ahead of Hamilton on 20. Kubica is in third place with 19 points. Ferrari now lead the constructors' championship with 47 points, ahead of BMW Sauber on 35 points. McLaren Mercedes are in third place with 34 points.
Formula One will next be in action with the Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix at the Istanbul International Circuit on May 9-11 where Bridgestone's hard and medium compound Potenza tyres will be used.
Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said:
"Kimi Raikkonen used his tyres very well to win quite a confusing race with the two safety car periods. The medium compound was the better tyre today with an obvious advantage of grip and better lap times, and this was because the circuit was much cleaner than yesterday. Most competitors used a medium-medium-hard strategy and this was the correct choice. In terms of wear and tyre appearance, performance was good, but we expected this as we have tested here so many times. Regarding Heikki Kovalainen's incident we do not believe that there was a tyre failure. As is normal, we are now conducting a thorough investigation with the team and we are happy Kovalainen appears to have not sustained any visible injuries."
In 2008, the tyre regulations stipulate that the two dry tyre specifications must be visibly distinguishable from each other. At the Spanish Grand Prix, the medium compound Bridgestone Potenza tyre was marked with a white line in the second from inside groove.