Kimi Raikkonen
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Turkey: Massa re-ignites Ferrari title charge
Sunday, 26 August 2007
formula 1 small2Felipe Massa reignited his and Ferrari's title challenge as he led team-mate Kimi Raikkonen home with his second consecutive Turkish Grand Prix victory and his third win of 2007.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had set the team the target of scoring 1-2 finishes in the remaining six races to turn the tables on McLaren and it now heads to its home track of Monza in a fortnight's time with one leg of that target secured.

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It may also feel that its luck has returned as its title ambitions benefited further after late agony befell championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The McLaren rookie was on course for third place at the very least when his car's right-front tyre exploded with just 15 laps to go at Istanbul Park.

And although he salvaged four points with fifth place, his misfortune gifted team-mate Fernando Alonso a podium and allowed him to close to five points of his championship lead when it had been set to increase it to a handy nine.

It also gave Ferrari, and Massa in particular, an even better evening of celebrations.

Something the Brazilian race-winner is fast getting used to in Turkey after he soaked up all the pressure his team-mate could put him under to take an impressive victory which closes his own deficit to Hamilton to 15 points.

Massa's quest towards that win was aided by poor starts for his McLaren rivals at the start, as both Hamilton and Alonso made slow getaways from the dirty side of the grid. 

Raikkonen immediately pinched second place away from Hamilton to form a Ferrari 1-2 going into turn one, with Massa untroubled going in to the first turn.

But thing’s were far worse for the sister McLaren of Alonso, who after dropping behind one BMW of Robert Kubica in an instant found himself battling with the second of Nick Heidfeld.

And as he has shown on two other occasions this season, the experienced German is not one to be intimidated by the world champion and showed it once again as he out-duelled the Spaniard through the descent into turn two.

While the top three teams squabbled over the top positions, further back in the midfield Jarno Trulli was tipped into a spin by fellow Italian Giancarlo Fisichella as the pack streamed downhill from turn one.

All of this was of little significance for the leading Ferrari pair at the front, as Raikkonen shadowed his team-mate during the opening stint.

But while Hamilton was keeping in touch with the two F2007s, Alonso’s chances of a podium were seemingly slipping away as he lost ground stuck behind Heidfeld.

However one of his BMW headaches was eased when Kubica pitted surprisingly early on lap 13 from fourth place, deciding to switch to the harder compound tyres after starting on he option rubber.

The world champion was then promoted to fourth, albeit still over 10 seconds behind the leading trio, when Heidfeld came in for service four laps later.

Alonso himself pitted for the first time a lap later, indeed at the same time as his fellow row two starter Raikkonen.

The Finn had began to crank up the pressure on his team-mate in the laps leading up to the first round of stops, but any theory that he was in the prime position carrying more fuel than Massa was dispelled when he peeled in first.

Massa only had one-lap's more worth of fuel, but that was ensure to ensure that his Finnish stable-mate had no chance of leapfrogging him.

With Alonso consolidating third place, McLaren in the immediate aftermath of the first stops looked to be in a position to give its Italian rival a run for its money in the second phase of the race – especially as Hamilton took on more fuel than either Massa or Raikkonen when he himself stopped on lap 20.

Indeed the 22-year-old looked to be in with an outside chance of picking off one, even both, at a later stage as he took on what Ron Dennis later revealed to ITV Sport had been five laps extra fuel.

However after initially keeping pace with the two F2007s, the gap to his two rivals consistently grew as the laps ticked by and he once again fell back in to a comfortable third place.

Massa meanwhile looked to be in an increasingly comfortable position himself at the front, as he pulled out a steady gap to Raikkonen once again.

Yet as unlike in France back in July, the latter knew he had no strategy advantage to fall back on this time and set about doing some thing to change his situation on track.

After gradually upping his pace, Raikkonen closed to within a second of his team-mate and after Massa made a slight mistake in the complex towards the end of the lap, was within striking distance for a possible pass.

Massa had other ideas however and held firm, effectively seeing him off for good when Raikkonen pitted first once again on lap 41.

When the Brazilian completed a successful pit stop a lap later he had the win in the bag, although a lurking threat did remain from Hamilton who had quietly built up his own speed in the second stint as he burned off his heavier fuel load.

But any chance he had of catching the second-place Ferrari was dramatically dashed when his right-front tyre exploded on the entry to turn nine on lap 43.

The rookie nursed his wounded McLaren back to the pits for a replacement tyre but grappled with badly damaged aerodynamics over the remaining laps.

Not only did it allow Alonso to steal third place, it was a welcome gift for BMW’s Heidfeld who compounded Hamilton’s woes by moving up to fourth.

The Briton returned to the track in fifth place and that was where he was to stay until the flag, although the aero damage meant he had to fend off a late attack from Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen.

Although Lewis held on, sixth place was still a fine reward for the ever-improving Kovalainen who had even briefly led the race in the first stint just prior to his first stop.

Nico Rosberg was another who performed well and brought his Williams home in seventh place.

Kubica paid the price for an early-pitting strategy and came away with the final point for eighth place.

Fisichella finished just behind the Pole in the second Renault, with David Coulthard 10th and Jenson Button 13th after a gutsy drive through the field from the Honda driver.

Turkish Grand Prix, 58 laps, result

1.  MASSA         Ferrari      1h26m42.161s

2.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari      +2.2s

3.  ALONSO        Mclaren      +26.1s

4.  HEIDFELD      BMW          +39.6s

5.  HAMILTON      McLaren      +45.0s

6.  KOVALAINEN    Renault      +46.1s

7.  ROSBERG       Williams     +55.7s

8.  KUBICA        BMW          +56.7s

9.  FISICHELLA    Renault      +59.4s
10. COULTHARD     Red Bull     +1m11.0s

11. WURZ          Williams     +1m19.6s
12. R SCHUMACHER  Toyota       +1 lap
13. BUTTON        Honda        +1 laps

14. DAVIDSON      Super Aguri  +1 laps

15. LIUZZI        Toro Rosso   +1 laps

16. TRULLI        Toyota       +1 lap

17. BARRICHELLO   Honda        +1 lap

18. SATO          Super Aguri  +1 lap
19. VETTEL        Toro Rosso   +1 lap

20. YAMAMOTO      Spyker       +2 laps

21. SUTIL         Spyker       +5 laps
R.  WEBBER        Red Bull     +49 laps


source: itv-f1.com


 
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