Valencia: Massa wins easily from pole

Felipe Massa ran away in his Ferrari

Ferrari's Felipe Massa repeated his performance two weeks ago in Hungary by dominating the weekend, but this time his Ferrari engine did not blow up and he won the European Grand Prix F1 race in Valencia, Spain comfortably over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. Massa took off from pole and never looked back, controlling the pace at will.

BMW's Robert Kubica finished where he started, third.

Rounding out the top-10 were Kovalainen, Trulli, Vettel, Glock, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Bourdais (84.0s) in tenth place.

Massa's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen lost the engine in his Ferrari just as Massa did in Hungary, so there is some concern in the Ferrari camp that they may have a problem. However, There was a problem on his last pitstop and the engine may have overheated.

Massa's result awaits confirmation from the race stewards who will investigate Ferrari’s actions during the Brazilian’s second pit-stop.

Massa was released into the path of Force India’s Adrian Sutil in the pit-lane. The race stewards said they were investigating the incident on the grounds of the release being “unsafe". They later announced that they would make their decision after the race leaving the possibility of a time penalty, which could gift Hamilton the victory, however, we expect just a monetary fine will be issued and the result will stand.

Team-by-team summary: Sunday

Pole, fastest race lap and well-deserved victory for Felipe Massa, but a messy overall performance by the Ferrari team. The Brazilian, now 6 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton, was lucky to escape a post-race stewards' investigation with only a 10,000 euro fine, after his crew released him from a pitstop into the path of Adrian Sutil's Force India. The operation of the sister car, meanwhile, was a disaster; not only another weak showing by Kimi Raikkonen, but – after Massa's Budapest failure – another blown V8 engine. Before that, the reigning world champion dropped the clutch before his crew had finished refueling and before he was shown a green light, and his rear wheel struck mechanic Pietro Timpini, who despite a trip to hospital only has a fractured foot.

Despite finishing second to Massa, Hamilton – revealing he has struggled with the 'flu, fever and severe neck spasms all weekend and nearly didn't race at all – actually extended his overall championship lead from 5 points (to Raikkonen before the race) to 6 points (to Massa after the race) at Valencia. "We opted fairly early on to take the championship-strategic option of settling for second place," team boss Ron Dennis said. Over 30 seconds behind the primary MP4-23, Heikki Kovalainen finished fourth, ensuring that – with Raikkonen's failure to finish – McLaren actually also clawed back 3 points to Ferrari's narrowing lead in the constructors' championship.

Half a minute behind Hamilton, Robert Kubica secured the final podium spot, his fifth this season, surviving a fright when a plastic bag got trapped under the car, robbing him of steering at one point. Nick Heidfeld started eighth but dropped back a position and didn't score points. "This was one of the worst races ever for me," said the German, who struggled for pace. "His pace was simply too slow," technical boss Willy Rampf said.

Along with Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli was among the stars of the Valencia weekend, finishing fifth from seventh on the grid on Sunday. "This shows how good we are getting and how nice it is to race with a competitive car every weekend," he said. From 13th on the grid and with a heavy cold, Timo Glock climbed to P7 at the flag courtesy of an excellent start and a one-stop strategy. A further testimony to the reigning GP2 champion's input is the fact that, following his struggles on Friday, Trulli only began to resurrect his form after adopting the wholesale setup of Glock's car.

Vettel capped his excellent form throughout the Valencia weekend with a thoroughly-deserved three points for sixth place, although he was lucky to survive the first lap including a knock against Raikkonen's Ferrari. Albeit nearly 40 seconds further behind, Sebastien Bourdais – who for a long time carried front wing damage after a clash with Heidfeld – completed Toro Rosso's impressive weekend with P10.

More than a minute behind the winner, Nico Rosberg secured the final championship point on offer at Valencia — the team's first since Silverstone. "It shows we are getting back on track," he said. Kazuki Nakajima was just 15th, however, after nearly stalling on the grid and then incurring the wrath of the local crowd by hitting the popular Spaniard Fernando Alonso. "There was a bit of a battle going on in front and I couldn't avoid him," said the Japanese, who had to pit for a new nose while Alonso retired with rear damage.

To the despair of his local supporters, crowd favorite Alonso retired from the second of his two home races this year after Williams' Nakajima crashed into the rear of his Renault. Nelson Piquet carried damage to the front of the sister R28 to 11th place. "It's a weekend to forget," said boss Flavio Briatore.

Beaten comprehensively by the 'junior' team Toro Rosso this weekend, boss Christian Horner admitted Valencia has been "disastrous" for Red Bull. "We've got a lot of analysis to do," said Mark Webber, who finished P12. David Coulthard, dead last at the checker, was hit from behind at the start and later collided with a Force India as he tried to recover. "Sorry to them for that," he said after nursing his damaged RB4 home.

Amid perhaps the worst weekend performance of his long career, Honda opted to pull Rubens Barrichello's car out of parc ferme overnight – thus requiring him to start from pitlane – and change all his braking components. He finished 16th of the 17 runners at the checker. Jenson Button has fared better all weekend but was nonetheless still lapped.

An eventful but fruitless race for Sutil, who as well as being involved in the Massa pitlane incident, then exited the race by crashing into the barriers. "Adrian was honest enough to admit he made a mistake," said technical boss Mike Gascoyne. Giancarlo Fisichella crossed the checker 14th of the 17 finishers. "Our pace was good, it wasn't far off the others," he said.



1. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 57 1h35m32.339
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 57 5.611
3. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 57 37.353
4. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 57 39.703
5. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 57 50.684
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 57 52.625
7. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 57 1m07.990
8. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 57 1m11.457
9. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 57 1m22.177
10. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 57 1m29.794
11. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 57 1m32.717
12. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 56 1 Lap
13. Jenson Button Britain Honda 56 1 Lap
14. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Ferrari 56 1 Lap
15. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 56 1 Lap
16. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 56 1 Lap
11. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 56 1 Lap
R Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 45 Engine
R Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Ferrari 41 Accident
R Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 0 Damage
Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 36 1:38.708

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