Ferrari stuff McLaren in Turkey


One thing we can safely say about today's race is that it won't be affected by bad weather. The sunshine and scorching heat experienced on Friday and Saturday will continue this afternoon and into the week.

Therefore, the factors to be considered today are fuel loads, tyre strategy, the inevitable clash at the first corner, and, in McLaren's case, outright silliness.

Fernando Alonso made the wrong choice in his tyre choice for the final run in qualifying, but nonetheless he starts from fourth on the grid. Therefore, we are likely to see the 'big four' battling it out once again.

Despite the points difference between the McLaren and Ferrari drivers, both championships are wide open, and therefore there is everything to fight for.

As ever, BMW will be there to pick up the pieces, with both drivers more than capable of taking a podium spot should any of the guys ahead of them make a mistake.

Nico Rosberg continues to impress, while Heikki Kovalainen is gradually proving his many fans right. It's been a slow, tortuous start to the Finn's first season but he's getting there.

Just as Toyota begin to look good, it all starts to go wrong again, with Ralf Schumacher having a torrid time in qualifying and Jarno Trulli extremely with his car's handling.

The Red Bulls are making steady progress while it would be good to see Anthony Davidson build on his amazing qualifying performance.

For Spyker and Toro Rosso it will be another long hard afternoon, while Honda will simply be hoping to get this afternoon, indeed the remainder of the season, out of the way as quickly as possible. With the engines having been changed in both Hondas the 'Myearthdream' cars start from the very back of the grid, which just about sums up the Japanese team's season. There will be no Turkish delight for Nick Fry this afternoon.

As the cars wait on the grid ahead of the parade lap, the air temperature is 35 degrees C, while the track temperature is 53 degrees. It is absolutely scorching hot.

The tyre options this afternoon are the medium and the hard, however, to make things easier we will refer to them as the soft and harder compounds.

Massa is starting on the soft compound, as is his teammate, whereas the McLarens are on the harder compound.

The entire field heads off on the parade lap, including the Hondas, which are not starting from the pitlane as one might have expected.

Even on the parade lap, Coulthard suspects a problem with his gearbox.

The grid lines up, the engines roar in frustrated anger.

The Ferraris get away cleanly, ahead of Hamilton, while Alonso loses out to both the BMWs. Further back Trulli spins, causing problems for everyone behind him. Amazingly, nobody hits him.

At the end of lap 1 it's Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Coulthard and Webber. Trulli is running last, while Fisichella and Davidson both lost positions due to the first corner contretemps. Barrichello is up to sixteenth.

Massa sets the first flying lap of the race on lap 2, the Brazilian posting 1:29.601.

Hamilton continues to shadow the Ferraris, as Alonso, still behind the BMWs, is now 6.2s behind the race leader. That said, Trulli is up to eighteenth after his first corner spin.

By the end of lap 4, Button is up to seventeenth, running 1s behind his teammate. Hamilton posts a new fastest lap (29.262).

Keeping a watching eye on his teammate, Raikkonen bangs in a new fastest lap (28.698), as Hamilton falls 2s behind the Finn.

The bright 'flame' decoration that adorns the grandstands clearly shows how many empty seats there are here, despite the TV director's best efforts to hide them.

Webber is having all manner of problems keeping his car on track. An off allows Wurz and Fisichella to slip through. The Australian heads back to the pits where the car is wheeled back into its garage. It appears to be all over.

Alonso is all over Heidfeld, but is making no progress. Meanwhile, Massa has extended the gap (to Alonso) to 10.5s.

The Spaniard tries a couple of moves but Heidfeld is well prepared. Meanwhile, Raikkonen posts another fastest lap (28.457).

The BMW mechanics are in the pitlane as Trulli gets all out of shape, almost taking out Barrichello. The mistake allows Button to pass the Toyota driver.

Kubica is the first to pit, which means that his teammate won't be far behind. The Pole rejoins in eleventh.

As Massa proves a point, posting a new fastest lap (28.388), Heidfeld stays out, much to the frustration of Alonso.

After 14 laps, the top three are lapping to within one-tenth of a second of one another.

Raikkonen is the first driver to dip into the 1:27s, the Finn posting 27.941. He is now 0.7s behind Massa but 3.5s ahead of Hamilton.

Behind Liuzzi, who is running twelfth, there is a whole train of cars, including Davidson, Schumacher, Button, Barrichello and Trulli.

Barrichello gets a call from his crew, telling him the Button claims to be running 2s a lap faster. "Don't make me laugh," is the response.

At the end of lap 17, Heidfeld finally pits, which is great news for Alonso, who now has it all to do. Rosberg and Coulthard also pit.

The Ferrari crew assembles in the pitlane, but who for? It's Raikkonen. The Finn stops at the end of lap 18, as does Alonso. Out on track, Massa posts a new fastest lap (27.922).

Alonso stays on the hards while Raikkonen sticks with the softs.

Several cars have gained positions as a result of the fuel stop strategy, including Alonso, who is now ahead of Heidfeld. Meanwhile, Massa stops, rejoining in third behind Hamilton and Kovalainen, who both have to stop.

At the end of lap 20, Hamilton pits, he too stays with the hard compound. He rejoins in fourth behind Kovalainen and the Ferraris.

Next time around Kovalainen pits, handing the lead back to Massa. The Finn rejoins ahead of Kubica, splitting the BMWs. Moments later his Renault teammate also pits.

After 23 laps, Massa leads Raikkonen by 2.5s, with Hamilton a further 1.4s behind. Alonso is now fourth, ahead of Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Kubica, Rosberg, Liuzzi and Fisichella. Of these, only Liuzzi hasn't stopped.

Although it looked as though Sutil had retired, the German is pushed back down the pitlane, and back into the race. Elsewhere, Liuzzi finally pits.

Davidson is now running in the top ten, however, the Englishman still has to stop.

After 26 laps, Alonso is running 14.6s behind his teammate, and 19.6s behind the race leader. The Spaniard is really facing an uphill task here this afternoon. Meanwhile, Davidson pits, rejoining in fifteenth, ahead of Button, Sato and Barrichello.

Kovalainen gets a 'gee up' from his crew, telling him he can beat (fifth placed) Heidfeld. "Come on mate, you can do it," they tell him.

Vettel, who is up to thirteenth, pits at the end of lap 29, which means that Schumacher and Sato are the only drivers still to stop.

Best scraps at present are for tenth (Coulthard and Schumacher) and sixteenth, where Sato has Barrichello and Trulli on his tail.

At the end of lap 33, Schumacher and Sato both pit.

Hamilton remains 5.1s behind Raikkonen and showing no sign of closing in. Meanwhile, Alonso is now 21.3s behind the race leader.

In all honesty, this is a very, very processional race. There's only been one retirement.

Therefore, how about a joke… a man goes to the doctor and complains that his hearing is failing and that he's afraid he's going deaf. "What are the symptoms?" asks the doctor. "They're that dysfunctional cartoon family on TV," is the instant response.

Anyway, as if to stop us boring you any further, the race comes alive, sort of, as Raikkonen closes right up on his teammate, and forcing the Brazilian into a mistake. They are now 0.4s apart, with Hamilton a further 6.2s behind.

Kubica and Rosberg get the second wave of pitstops underway, and though the Ferrari crew is in the pitlane, both drivers opt to stay out on track and continue fighting.

At the end of lap 41, Raikkonen pits, stopping short of his box by a couple of metres. In goes the fuel, on go the harder tyres, and the Finn heads down the pitlane, rejoining in fourth.

Next time around, Heidfeld pits, followed by Massa. The Brazilian rejoins behind Hamilton and Alonso but ahead of his own teammate.

Disaster for Hamilton who has a right front puncture, bits of rubber flailing in the air. The Englishman gets back to the pits just as his teammate is leaving. The endplate on the front wing has been ripped off, and the bargeboard is damaged, therefore it remains to be seen how the car will handle in the run in to the finish.

We witnessed an amazing fight back here last season in the GP2 race, when Hamilton spun off early in the race. Will we witness a similar recovery in the remaining laps?

After 44 laps, Massa leads Raikkonen by 1.6s, with Alonso a further 18.8s behind. Heidfeld is fourth, ahead of Hamilton, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Kubica, Fisichella and Coulthard.

Hamilton's McLaren seems OK, he lapping in the mid 1:30s, same as Heidfeld and Kovalainen. He isn't going to make an impression on the leaders, but it appears that he can hold position.

While Heidfeld is running in fourth, his teammate has slipped back down to eighth. It will be interesting to hear whether he had a problem or not. Then again, maybe it was the team's strategy, for the Pole pitted quite early, especially the second time.

"His front wing is damaged," Kovalainen is told as he closes to within 3.5s of Hamilton. With 8 laps remaining the Finn has everything to play for. He's currently lapping around 0.3s quicker than the McLaren driver.

Kubica closes in on Rosberg, who is 8s behind Kovalainen. The German is having a great drive today, the Williams flattering to deceive.

"We need more," Kovalainen is told, but he's only taking around 0.2s a lap out of the Englishman, and not on every lap.

Out front Massa appears to have it all sewn up, with 4 laps remaining he's 4.7s ahead of his teammate, who is 20s ahead of the World Champion.

On the penultimate lap, Raikkonen goes quickest in the first sector. He finally crosses the line at 27.295, posting the fastest lap of the race and proving a point, if only to himself.

Massa takes the win, and with Raikkonen finishing second Ferrari closes to within 11 points in the Constructors' Championship, while Hamilton's lead in the Drivers' Championship is down to 5 points.

Not the most dramatic of races, far from it, but at least the championship(s) are kept alive.

A faultless performance from Massa, who opened his World Championship account - in terms of race wins - here almost a year ago. That time spent as understudy to the legendary Michael Schumacher has clearly done him no hard.

Raikkonen will rue the mistake in qualifying which almost certainly cost him pole position and with it the race. His 'fastest lap' right at the end of today's race was a clear indication of what might have been.

We're sure that after the first ten or laps of today's race, Fernando Alonso wasn't expecting to finish third, and yet he did. He stuck with it, banged in some good laps when needed, and also benefited from his teammate's tyre problem.

Another great drive from Nick Heidfeld, a perfect justification for BMW's decision to retain him. Give him a car capable of winning - and knowing BMW that shouldn't take too long - and he'll deliver.

Lewis Hamilton will have to get used to days like today, for it won't be the last time that a race is lost through no fault of his own. That said, despite the obvious problem of the tyre failure, and the handling issues that followed, he kept it all together and brought the car home in the points, again. Once again, the English youngster ticks the boxes.

Great drives from Kovalainen and Rosberg, two drivers quietly honing their skills, out-classing the ir teammates (again) and showing a glimpse of what might be should they ever get their hands on a winning car.

Credit must go to Jenson Button who despite the overwhelming problems stuck with it and brought the Honda home in thirteenth. Many of us would have called it quits and headed off for a cool beer, but the 27-year-old kept his head down and got on with it.

As we said before, not the best of races, but it certainly sets us up nicely for the double header at Monza and Spa, two circuits that put man and machine to the test.

Most importantly however, we have a fine balance in both championship battles and best of all no bloody stupid politics.

To check out our Turkish GP gallery, click here

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 26/08/2007
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