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Spain race analysis - Ferrari unbeatable, as midfield battle rages 28 Apr 2008

Podium (L to R): Second place Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari Manager of F1 Operations, race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari and third place Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mclaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008

Ferrari may have recorded a comfortable one-two in Barcelona on Sunday, but behind them another six teams scored points, emphasising just how competitive the 2008 Formula One season has become. McLaren returned to form, Renault were back in the mix, Honda scored their first ’08 points, and Red Bull clinched their best result of the year.

The recent intensive development work has obviously paid off for the bulk of the teams then, though not by enough to trouble Ferrari, who left Spain with a commanding constructors’ championship lead and with Kimi Raikkonen nine points clear atop the driver standings…

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.670s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 21.801s, P2

Yet again, Ferrari had another fast and trouble-free day to take a dominant one-two. They said they were surprised that the race was so close, but in the same breath winner Raikkonen admitted that he could have gone faster - had anyone got close enough to make him care! After everyone had updated their cars for the European leg, the reds demonstrated that not very much has changed.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 22.017s, P3
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 22.453s, Retired, accident lap 22

The race was good and bad for McLaren. Good insofar as Hamilton won a fine third place and got close enough to keep Massa on his toes, bad after a suspected front wheel failure duplicated the nasty accident that befell Hamilton in Germany last year. Fortunately the current safety systems all conspired to protect the popular Finn, who is expected to be fit to race in Turkey.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 22.106s, P4
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 22.519s, P9

BMW Sauber lost their lead in the world championship for constructors, as Ferrari moved to 47 points to their 35, but they remain a point ahead of McLaren. Kubica drive a great race to keep Hamilton honest, but shouldn’t really have lost out to the Briton at the start. Heidfeld was terribly unlucky, running longer than the other front runners in his first stint but then passing the pit entry mere seconds before he was instructed to pit for fuel. Thereafter he was trapped by the safety car and had to pit when the pit lane was still officially closed. Refuelling when the safety car was out lost him a loot of ground, as did the ensuing stop-go penalty.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 22.564s, P5
David Coulthard, 1m 22.842s, P12

Red Bull also had a good and bad race. Webber was very happy with his strong fifth place, and the reliability of his RB4, but Coulthard was attacked by Sutil on the first lap and later by Glock. The latter incident, in Turn Five, resulted in a left rear puncture that dropped him to a 12th place finish.

Jenson Button, 1m 22.353s, P6
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 23.858s, Retired, accident damage lap 35

There was more good news for Honda as Button scored their first points of the season with sixth place - and set the race’s fifth-fastest lap. The latest aero package on the RA108 may not yet be fully optimised, but it certainly looks promising. Barrichello would also have been a points contender, but for an unfortunate clash with Fisichella in the pits which left him exiting with a damaged nose. Doing a lap with it trapped beneath the car caused sufficient bodywork damage to prompt retirement.

Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 23.549s, P7
Nico Rosberg, 1m 23.319s, Retired, engine lap 42

Williams should have taken three points, as Rosberg was running ahead of eventual seventh-place finisher Nakajima. The German had taken his team mate’s aero set-up for the race and was much happier with his FW30, until it broke its engine on lap 42.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 22.758s, P8
Timo Glock, 1m 23.007s, P11

Trulli was a sixth place candidate until a mix-up over his second stop cost him time and dropped him to eighth, while Glock damaged his nose on the opening lap, had it replaced in his first pit stop, then damaged the replacement against Coulthard as they battled for eighth place in the closing stages.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 23.439s, P10
Adrian Sutil, No time, Retired, accident lap 1

Fisichella had a strong race and looked a possible points contender for a while, despite having to conserve fuel during the second safety-car period. Then he got caught up behind Sato and lost time, and subsequently had his clash with Barrichello as he turned into his pit and caught the Honda’s front wing. Later he was overtaken by Heidfeld and had to be satisfied with 10th. Sutil blotted his copybook again with a first-lap mistake which led to his retirement.

Super Aguri
Takuma Sato, 1m 24.617s, P13
Anthony Davidson, 26.864, Retired, radiator damage lap 9

Sato and Davidson were battling for last place when the latter suffered stone damage to a water radiator as a result of debris strewn on the track by an off-course Piquet. That prompted retirement after eight laps. Sato ran close to the points in ninth for a while, but dropped back with his second stop and succumbed to Coulthard’s recovery late in the race. He finished 13th and last.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 22.683s, Retired, engine lap 35
Nelson Piquet Jnr, 1m 25.444s, Retired, accident damage lap 7

Alonso lost second place immediately to Massa at the start despite running the lowest fuel load of all the fast qualifiers. He pitted after 16 laps, three ahead of the Brazilian, but benefited from Kovalainen’s accident and Heidfeld’s misfortune to run fifth until his engine broke after 34 laps. After his early misdemeanour, Piquet was taken out when he and Bourdais collided as he attempted to pass the Toro Rosso on lap seven.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 36.677s, Retired, accident lap 8
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 35.648s, Retired, accident lap 1

It was another tough race for Toro Rosso. Vettel got taken out on the opening lap - for the third time this year - when Sutil spun in front of him in Turn Four and he was unable to avoid the Force India. Then Bourdais came together with Piquet seven laps later.