ALONSO EXTENDS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) finished second in today's Turkish Grand Prix to extend his Formula One championship to 12 points with four races to go. The Spaniard split the Ferraris of first-time...
ALONSO EXTENDS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) finished second in today's Turkish Grand Prix to extend his Formula One championship to 12 points with four races to go. The Spaniard split the Ferraris of first-time winner Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher and had to defend strongly during the race's final stages to keep the German at bay.
Massa made a clean start from pole position to beat Schumacher off the line - and third-fastest qualifier Alonso got between the Ferraris as the field reached the first turn. Schumacher moved across to reclaim second, however, and as Alonso eased off his close-following team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella braked hard in avoidance and spun around.
That provoked a chain-reaction accident that involved several Michelin drivers, including Nick Heidfeld (who started fifth for BMW Sauber), Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes) and Scott Speed (Scuderia Toro Rosso). All four continued after pitting for repairs, but Räikkönen crashed heavily within four corners of rejoining. He escaped with nothing worse than a sore back.
Alonso continued to follow the two Ferraris until lap 14, when the leaders all headed for the pits after the Safety Car was scrambled to allow Vitantonio Liuzzi's stranded Toro Rosso to be cleared from the track at Turn One. The Italian spun out when his rear axle locked suddenly.
Alonso emerged from the pits ahead of Schumacher - and the German subsequently lost time when he ran wide at Turn Eight. Alonso remained ahead of his pursuer after the second and final round of stops, but Schumacher fought back strongly in the closing stages.
He made several attempts to pass the Spaniard, but the defending world champion held on to beat Schumacher by just 0.081s. Meanwhile, Massa had crossed the line to clinch his maiden F1 victory at the 66th attempt. Following Jenson Button's recent victory in Hungary, the sport had its second new winner in as many races.
Button (Honda/Michelin) finished fourth this time, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes, fifth) and the recovering Fisichella. Rubens Barrichello (Honda, eighth) also scored a point for Michelin.
Chrkistian Klien (Red Bull/Michelin) qualified a strong 10th but had to settle for 11th in the race after his car developed an imbalance. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber/Michelin) finished 12th while first-corner victims Speed and Heidfeld were eventually 13th and 14th. David Coulthard (Red Bull) was running just behind Klien in the closing stages, but a gearbox problem forced him to pit. He was classified 15th.
Räikkönen and Liuzzi were the only Michelin drivers not to finish. Michelin is now preparing for an intensive test at Monza, Italy, ahead of next month's Italian GP.