Pole. Victory. Pole. Victory. Pole. Victory. Felipe Massa has this Turkish Grand Prix thing down. Podium: race winner Felipe Massa celebrates. Photo by xpb.cc. Although his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen bagged fastest lap, ...
Pole. Victory. Pole. Victory. Pole. Victory. Felipe Massa has this Turkish Grand Prix thing down.
Although his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen bagged fastest lap, Massa drove to his third consecutive victory from pole position in today's Formula One race at Istanbul Park. The Brazilian put his stamp on an event in a manner not seen since the days of his Ferrari mentor and seven-time world driving champ Michael Schumacher.
"I think I can get a passport here already," a tickled Massa laughed.
Runner-up Lewis Hamilton pushed McLaren Mercedes back to its expected place as co-juggernaut with the Italian team. Raikkonen finished third. The BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finished fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of Fernando Alonso for Renault, Mark Webber for Red Bull, and Nico Rosberg for Williams in the points. Heidfeld improved from ninth on the grid.
"It's just fantastic," Massa said. "Today was a difficult race, actually. Lewis was pushing me hard, a lot. For the whole race."
Once the safety car cleared off after a jostling start that took full ten seconds for the lights to go out and prompted Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella to rabbit over the back of Kazuki Nakajima's Williams, Hamilton sped away behind Massa, determined not to let the Ferrari out of his (gun)sights. They pulled slightly ahead of Kubica, leading Alonso after the Spaniard passed Raikkonen, who had tangled with countryman Heikki Kovalainen at the start. Raikkonen recovered to pass Alonso on lap 4.
Massa attributed Hamilton's pesky pushing to a light fuel load.
"Then my team told me straightaway he was on three stops," the Brazilian said. "That for sure was a little bit of help because he was very strong. I couldn't hold him in the track so he passed me. But then I knew I still had a big chance to win the race."
Hamilton, who passed Massa for the lead on lap 24, was disadvantaged by three stops in part because the Istanbul Park pit lane is so long and takes so much time to negotiate. But tires remained the McLaren driver's bugaboo.
"Today we decided on the harder tire," Hamilton said. "We knew it was going to be very tough to challenge the Ferraris and to be honest we were just hoping to get some points, to finish in the top five would have been good. The balance of the car was great. On the hard tires I was able to keep up with Felipe and keep pushing.
"I have to say the reason we went with a three-stop was due to Bridgestone. They were concerned, well, they thought that if the tire was going to fail, like it did last year, and therefore they made us do a three stop as it was the safest way, the safest route to go. Unfortunately for us, that put us in not such a strong position to win the race."
World driving champ Raikkonen drove with a damaged front wing, courtesy of close quarters with Kovalainen at the start. Kovalainen's need for a tire change thereafter put him in the non-points wilderness for the rest of the race.
"Unfortunately for both of us, I broke the front wing and he had a puncture," Raikkonen said. "We just used the front wing for the whole race because it takes too long to change it and it wasn't too bad, so, bit difficult but at least we got some good points."
See, that's all we want in a World Driving Champion, a fellow who drives to a podium finish with a broken car then tells us it would take too long to fix so why bother. Raikkonen moves to a seven-point drivers-race margin ahead of Hamilton, who is joined on 28 points by Massa. Kubica follows on 24 ahead of Heidfeld on 20. Ferrari consolidates its place atop the constructors heap. With 63 points, the Red Horse prances ahead of BMW Sauber, 44 points, McLaren, 42, Williams, 13, Red Bull, 10, and Toyota, nine.
Only three runners failed to finish. Fisichella, already starting at the end of the grid for running a red light on pit lane to start Friday practice, made the mess of Nakajima's Williams on the first lap. Fisichella said he had to react to a twitching Scuderia Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais spun off on lap 25.
Veterans David Coulthard for Red Bull and Jarno Trulli for Toyota rounded out the top 10. Honda's Jenson Button led Kovalainen. Toyota's Glock came 13th ahead of Rubens Barrichello for Honda, Nelsinho Piquet for Renault, Adrian Sutil for Force India and Sebastian Vettel for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Wunderkind Vettel finished his first race of the season. He outlasted a tire puncture and a faulty fuel rig that called for an additional fuel stop. "At least I saw the checkered flag," he said.
Poor Kovalainen, fresh off the scary crash in Spain, qualified on the front row for the first time only to spend the race fighting through the field from 18th. Kovalainen finished 12th after putting passes on several runners, including twice on Piquet and Glock. Glock said he was frustrated at having better pace but being unable to show it for being caught up in the leaders lapping.
"Not a lucky race for me as I made a bad start from the dirty line on the grid," Kovalainen said. "After the start, Kimi and I touched slightly, which caused a slow puncture to my left rear tire. Initially, I was not sure whether the tire was damaged or not, but during the safety-car period, I realized that I had to come into the pits for a new tire. That was almost it for me, because with my heavy fuel load and the traffic, it is extremely difficult to gain any places during the race."
Barrichello became the longest-serving member of the F1 fraternity by finishing his 257th race, replacing the record 256 held from 1993 -- or the length of Barrichello's F1 career to date -- by Riccardo Patrese.
The likable Barrichello outlasted two of the four F1 teams that have employed him. He began Formula One with Jordan (1993) moved to Stewart (1997), then to Ferrari (2000) and to Honda (2006). His first victory was a memorable drive from 18th in rain at the 2000 German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. Barrichello shed tears of joy and possibly relief on the podium, later saying he was unaware a spectator ran onto the course during the race. The Brazilian, whose experience makes him savvy enough to remove his sunglasses for interviews, told television reporters on the grid at Istanbul he sees 300 races as a reasonable goal.
The circus moves to venerable Monaco at the end of the month.