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GP Week : Issue 5
F1 bahrain >> F ELIPE Massa banished the memories of the first two Grands Prix of the season with a measured and mature drive to claim victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Brazilian took the lead at the first corner and put in a performance to silence his critics, making no hint of a mistake to cruise to his first win of the season ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, whose second place put him on top of the drivers’ championship. Pole-sitter Robert Kubica was unable to convert the pace he had shown in qualifying into the speed necessary to challenge the might of Ferrari, but his third place allied to team-mate Heidfeld’s fourth position saw BMW-Sauber take to the top of the constructors’ championship table. It was a race to forget for Lewis Hamilton however. A terrible start, a collision with his adversary Alonso and a change of nose saw him finish the race out of the points. It had all started to go wrong for Hamilton at the start. After selecting the wrong settings, he bogged down as the lights went out, but eventually got going, having been swamped by his rivals. Up at the front, Massa had screamed away from the lights and took the lead at the first corner from Kubica. As the midfield bumped each other around the first few corners, Hamilton was trying to make amends for his lousy start, and came across Alonso’s Renault. As the duo started the second lap, Hamilton misjudged his pace comparative to the Spaniard’s and slammed into the rear of the Renault, obliterating his front wing and any hopes he had of salvaging his weekend. On the third lap, Kubica succumbed to Raikkonen for second position, and as Heidfeld blasted past Kovalainen onto the back straight, it was Ferrari 1- 2, BMW 3-4. And that’s the way it would finish. The order, as the first stops approached, was Massa leading Raikkonen, Kubica, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Trulli, Rosberg and Webber. And that’s pretty much how it was after the stops, too, save for an impressive Webber getting the jump on Rosberg thanks to some tidy laps and some even smarter pitwork. At the back, Coulthard and Button were scrapping over the final places, having both pitted early for repairs after a bustling first lap. The pair exchanged glances, Button taking a cheeky peek as DC shut the door. Button however misjudged his braking on lap 18, and as he dinked to the inside to try and avoid the Scot, he popped over the curb and landed on DC’s front right. The Scot continued, but Button was forced to retire a few laps later from the damage. But for Hamilton making up a couple of spots past the Super Aguris and Nakajima’s Williams, there was little else of note in the race. The second stops failed to change the order at the front, although as Trulli started to gain on Kovalainen, the Finn was called upon to provide an extra spurt of pace into his McLaren, setting the fastest race lap nine tours from the flag. Massa came home then to record his first win of the season from Raikkonen and Kubica, ahead of Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Trulli, Webber and Rosberg. The opening laps may have been a thrilling rollercoaster, but the individual nature of the opening three tracks of the season often mean there is little space for surprise once the order has shaken out. And so it proved in Bahrain. Eventful? Yes. A classic? Perhaps not. But it had, for a few hours at least, drawn attentions away from the issues which, rightly or wrongly, had so overshadowed everything else at the 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix. 27