Sunday, May 11, 2008

Triple Turkish Delight for Massa

Felipe Massa drove his Ferrari to victory from pole, claiming his third straight win at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul. The race was evidently not as comfortable as he would have liked it to be, with Lewis Hamilton breathing down his neck during the opening laps, and overtaking him at one stage for the lead. Hamilton's three pit-stop strategy, however, was good enough only for a second-place finish, splitting the two Ferrari cars, with Kimi Raikkonen coming in third.

The race at the anti-clockwise circuit was rather uneventful, with the only bit of action coming at the start. Thanks to the withdrawal of the Super Aguri team due to financial difficulties, Force India have been left to bring up the rear of the pack. They didn't have a good start at the Turkish GP, with Giancarlo Fisichella locking up and sending his car crashing away from the track. Kazuki Nakajima of Williams retired early, and Sebastien Bourdais of Toro Rosso ended up beaching his car; these were the only retirements in a race that saw 17 of 20 drivers finishing.

Massa started well, while Hamilton squeezed past McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who had started on the front row of the grid beside Massa, into second place. Raikkonen struggled to hold his position, being overtaken by BMW's Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso in his Renault. A minor tussle between Raikkonen and Kovalainen sent the latter into the pits with a puncture, ruining his race. Kovalainen, despite all his overtaking manoeuvres, managed only a twelfth-place finish.

Ferrari have once again asserted their status as favourites for the season, earning their fourth win in a row. McLaren seemingly have a lot of work to do to put both their cars in a competitive position with respect to Ferrari, as do BMW. Kubica and teammate Nick Heidfeld came in fourth and fifth, never really in the reckoning for a podium finish. After their promising start to the season, they have not quite maintained the momentum. Nico Rosberg managed only one point, failing to live up to his promise yet again. This season is beginning to run on predictable lines, but nothing really can be said about the championship yet. McLaren had a strong start last season, but faltered when in mattered. The Monaco GP should be interesting, as Ferrari haven't won at the circuit since 2001. Much depends on qualifying and strategy, as the showpiece race tends to get rather processional due to the lack of overtaking opportunities at the street circuit. The Monaco GP will also mark the end of a third of the season, giving the teams a good chance to get their act together and reestablish their goals and priorities.

All is not well for Vijay Mallya in sport; with just one of the Force India cars finishing yet again, and only in a lowly 17th place, the team has a great deal of work to do to put itself among the midfield teams, as was the initial target.

No comments: