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GP Week : 29-Apr-2008
K IMI Raikkonen took his second Grand Prix victory of the 2008 season at the Spanish Grand Prix, crossing the finish line 3.228 seconds ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa to record Ferrari’s second successive 1-2 of the championship. The Finn had started from his first pole position of the year, and never looked troubled over the 66 laps of the contest. Indeed, both Ferraris looked comfortable, and ran in clockwork formation throughout. On F1’s most boring circuit, the red cars’ domination simply added to the monotony. It looked as though both McLarens and BMWs would fight over the final podium spot but, after a super start, Lewis Hamilton retained just enough pace to keep Massa in sight and Kubica at bay throughout. The drama came from within the next group. Heikki Kovalainen, running longer than the cars ahead of him, briefly inherited the lead, but a sudden deflation of his left front tyre saw him speed off track and into the tyre barriers with huge force. As the emergency crews arrived at the scene, the Safety Car was deployed. He was safely extracted from the crumpled McLaren and able to wave to the crowd as he was stretchered away for a check-up. This left Nick Heidfeld in the lurch as the German was desperate for fuel, and the BMW driver subsequently had to enter the closed pit lane to take on juice and new boots, incurring an unfortunate 10 second stop-go penalty which would drop him right out of contention. Local interest had, clearly, been on local hero Fernando Alonso who, with the benefit of some gains in testing, and a light-ish fuel load, put his Renault on the front row, alongside Raikkonen. Having lost out to Massa at the start, Alonso stopped on lap 16 for fuel (only two laps before Massa, and then Raikkonen – the Renault not quite as light as predicted) having run third throughout, and probably headed for what could have been fifth at the end. It became academic when the Renault’s engine went bang on lap 34. All this left fifth place to a solid Mark Webber, the Australian again first of the non-Ferrari/ McLaren/BMW troops home, and well ahead of a delighted Jenson Button, grabbing his first 2008 points for Honda. Team-mate Barrichello had looked a points possibility too until a pit-lane nudge with Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India car dislodged his front wing and enforced an additional stop and eventual retirement. Retirements were growing at a rapid rate. The first had been Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Vettel, who came to blows at Turn Four on the opening lap, necessitating the first Safety Car Nelson Piquet had run off the track in the early action, dropping to the back of the field behind Sebastien Bourdais. The Brazilian attempted to re-pass the Toro Rosso driver at Turn 10, but the Frenchman claimed not to have seen the Renault driver and the duo retired – Piquet on the spot, and Bourdais in the pits. Nico Rosberg too watched the end of the race from pit lane, his Toyota engine expiring as the Williams exited onto the main straight. Up front, nothing had changed. Raikkonen crossed the line just over three seconds ahead of his team-mate, with Hamilton a mere 0.9 seconds behind the Brazilian in third. Kubica took fourth, 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton. Behind Webber and Button, Nakajima took seventh and Trulli eighth. The results leave Raikkonen leading the championship from Hamilton and Kubica, and with the top three teams all so apparently close in pace, what is often considered to be a dull venue had at least given F1 fans reason to be optimistic for a close European season ahead. 22