Spanish week-end turned into a real triumph for Scuderia Ferrari: the Red cars dominated the Friday’s free practice sessions, Kimi Raikkonen gained the pole position in the qualifying session on Saturday, and the second consecutive one-two for the team on Sunday.
Bahrain’s GP ended in the best possible way for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro: Felipe Massa won the race, for the first time this year and for the 6th in his career, and Kimi Raikkonen was second, going back on the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
It was an important day for the italian team for many more reasons, as that it was the 100th victory with Luca di Montezemolo as President of Ferrari. Moreover, the 18 points gained by the two pilots let the team reach the second position in the Teams Standing, just one point behind the remarkable BMW.
Anyway, what should be underlined as basic for the future of the Scuderia Ferrari during this season, is the different approach showed by both the pilots and the team, that permitted them to rule the race since the first until the last lap, a change of mentality from the previous weeks that lets us wait for the next races more confidently, as done by the protagonists of the victory:
“We are very happy about this wonderful one-two finish,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali. “After a bad start to the season, we have proved we know how to react with our actions, as usual. We worked well all weekend and the results therefore followed. Now we have to continue down this road, without allowing our absolute concentration to slip for a moment, because in a championship that looks like being very close, it takes almost nothing to lose precious points.”
Felipe Massa commented, “Sensational! Finally, after a start to the championship under dark clouds, I can see the sunshine again. We kept our concentration all weekend long and this is the result. We knew we could count on a great car and that certainly proved to be the case, given that I never had to push to the maximum once I was in the lead…….I always had in mind what happened in Malaysia and so I tried to pay attention all the time, to ensure I brought the car home.”
Felipe Massa scored a great debut victory in winning the Turkish Grand Prix on the outskirts of Istanbul on Sunday. He led almost throughout the 58 lap race, held in 36 degree heat to establish himself in third place in the championship, and move Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro to within two points of the championship lead. But teammate Michael Schumacher was beaten into third place by championship rival Fernando Alonso, the pair finishing just 0.081s apart as Michael made a late lunge for the finishing line. The seven time World Championship had been overtaken by Alonso when the leading cars all pitted for fuel and tyres when the safety car came out after 14 laps. Massa came in first, requiring Michael to wait for service which allowed Alonso to overtake. His deficit to the Spaniard in the championship grew by two points to 12.
At the start, Michael’s fears of the dirtier inside line were realised in the charge down to the first corner, allowing Massa to lead although Michael just grabbed second from Alonso who was pincered by the Ferraris. He backed off which surprised teammate Giancarlo Fisichella who spun causing chaos. The Renault driver, Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen were among those who had to pit at the end of the lap for damage, which allowed Webber up to fourth from ninth on the grid, Jenson Button up one place to fifth, Nico Rosberg up from 14th to sixth, Tonio Liuzzi up from 18th to seventh and Robert Kubica who remained eighth.
During the opening stages, Massa opened up a 3.2s lead by lap three but there it stayed, until dropping to 1.9s on lap 13. Michael remained consistent in second place, but Fernando Alonso dropped away in fourth. Button had disposed of Webber to claim fifth place, the Honda driver briefly catching Alonso, while Webber was soon challenged by Kubica until his challenge faded, having overtaken Rosberg. On lap 14, the safety car came out after Liuzzi, who had also faded, spun at the first corner and his Scuderia Toro Rosso needed to be removed. All the leaders dived for the pits, the Ferraris arriving in race order: Massa ahead of Michael. While the German driver waited, Alonso swept passed into second place, and when the safety car went in a few laps later, Alonso was on Massa’s tail, if only briefly.
Michael was back in third place now ahead of Button, with Rosberg, who didn’t stop, in fifth place. Christian Klien was soon to be overtaken for sixth by Pedro de la Rosa, both non-stoppers. Then came Jarno Trulli having a massive battle with Rubens Barrichello. During the next 20 laps, Massa gradually eased away from Alonso, while Michael wasn’t far behind until he ran wide at turn eight and lost four seconds. Button was now close behind Michael, but not quicker. De la Rosa was next after Trulli, Klien and Barichello all pitted.
The first four were in a class of their own, with three of them making another pit stop on lap 39, leaving Michael ahead for three laps before he came in on lap 43. When he emerged, he was now just behind Alonso and the pair of them ran nose-to-tail for the remainder of the race, Michael hoping that Alonso might make a tiny mistake, but he was to be disappointed. Massa led the pair by 13s but he eased up in the closing stages to win by 5.5s. Alonso was just ahead of Michael, with Button in a safe fourth place.
Fifth place eventually went to de la Rosa, 33s further back, but he was pushed by Fisichella in the closing stages and then came Ralf Schumacher just winning his Japanese battle from Barrichello. Trulli was ninth, again pushed hard by Webber. Alonso now leads the Drivers’ championship by 108 points from Michael’s 96, while Renault are two points ahead of Ferrari, 160 to 158 pts.
It was the sixth win of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, the first from Felipe Massa. This is win number 189 from 737 races. Felipe took his maiden career win at his sixty seventh participation in a Formula 1 Grand Prix.