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Turkish race analysis - McLaren edging ever closer 12 May 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 leads Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 11 May 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and the team celebrate his win.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 11 May 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 11 May 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 11 May 2008 Damage for Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ferrari may have won for the third successive year in Istanbul on Sunday, but it was their least decisive victory of the season, as McLaren raised their game to all but match the pace of the world champions. In fact, had it not been for tyre-related problems for both Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, Ron Dennis’s men believe they could have taken victory.

For once, BMW Sauber were unable to live with the big two teams and further back competition was tight between the likes of Renault, Red Bull and Williams...

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 26.666s, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.506s, P3

Massa’s only problem all day was when Hamilton overtook him in a bold move in Turn 12 on the 24th lap, but it was soon clear to Ferrari that the Englishman was on a three-stop strategy so all the Brazilian had to do was keep his nose clean and manage his pit stops well. This he did to take a brilliant hat-trick victory at the circuit he loves. Raikkonen was less impressive, and though he said the front wing of his Ferrari was damaged in a first corner rub with Kovalainen, he still managed just to beat Hamilton to fastest lap. Six points helped him maintain his championship lead, so he was relatively happy. Where McLaren kept their soft Bridgestones until their drivers’ final stints, Ferrari were able to use them right from the start, and that gave them a crucial advantage.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 26.529s, P2
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 27.640s, P12

Advice from Bridgestone that his front tyres were showing higher than normal temperature rates after free practice on Saturday persuaded McLaren that Hamilton would be best served by a three-stop strategy. That was compromised when he failed to take pole position, but after a great start and a brilliant run which he described as the best of his F1 career, he was well pleased to finish second when the team’s pre-race computer prediction had suggested that fifth was the best he could have hoped for. Kovalainen did a superb job in qualifying, but was condemned right from the start when he had to pit to replace a punctured tyre on the second lap after the brush with Raikkonen. He pulled a brilliant passing move round the outside of Glock in Turn 11 at one stage, and raced well against Rosberg, but too much time spent in traffic killed his chances of points.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 26.780s, P4
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 27.219s, P5

Fourth and fifth places earned BMW Sauber another nine points to keep them in second place in the constructors’ championship, two points ahead of McLaren. Kubica lost third place to Raikkonen during the first round of pits stops when the Finn ran two crucial laps longer, and thought he got everything out of his F1.08 that it could offer. Like his team mate, Heidfeld made a good start to pass Trulli, benefited from Kovalainen’s misfortune, and jumped both Alonso and Webber after his first stop. He said he was happy to finish fifth after starting ninth.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 27.280s, P6
Nelson Piquet Jnr, 1m 27.867s, P15

Alonso was once again happy with the progress that Renault made on his way to three points for sixth place and a fastest lap not far off Heidfeld’s after a race in which he said everything went smoothly. But Piquet lost time at the start avoiding the first-corner melee and thereafter raced down the back on his way to an unhappy 15th place.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 27.630s, P7
David Coulthard, 1m 27.966s, P10

Webber was very happy to pick up two more points for seventh place for Red Bull, which brought him up to his 2007 score after only five races. Coulthard felt he lost just enough time just before his second pit stop to make the difference between eighth and ninth, and blamed the onset of understeer.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 27.795s, P8
Kazuki Nakajima, No time, Retired lap 1, collision with Fisichella

Rosberg said he loved his race and felt that he had screwed everything out of his FW30 that it had to give on his way to eighth place and the final point. Nakajima, however, was assaulted from behind by Fisichella at the start, lost his rear wing, and had to retire at the end of the lap when a pit stop revealed further terminal damage.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 27.926s, P10
Timo Glock, 1m 28.303s, P13

Trulli got nudged at the start and lost three places, and was thereafter never able to make up lost ground as he was trapped in traffic. On his one-stop strategy, Glock was likewise stuck with cars all around him, but had some fine dices with Kovalainen on his way to an unhappy 13th place.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 27.998s, P11
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 28.017s, P14

Honda had a miserable race, with Button’s overheating front brakes cooking his front tyres. A move to a one-stop strategy didn’t work, either. Barrichello’s 257th race start brought him only 14th place, as he struggled with understeer all the way through.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 28.180s, P17
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 28.745s, Retired lap 25, suspension

Vettel got clobbered yet again at the start and pitted with a puncture at the end of the lap. Later he was delayed by a problem with his refuelling rig, but he did at least achieve his first race finish of the year. Bourdais suffered a similar problem, but retired when a rear suspension failure pitched him off the road on lap 25.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, No time, Retired lap 1, collision with Nakajima
Adrian Sutil, 1m 28.780s, P16

Fisichella blotted his copybook when, blindsided in Turn One by Bourdais, he hit the back of Nakajima and flew over the Williams into retirement in the gravel trap. Sutil suffered front wing damage in the incident, pitted for repairs at the end of the lap, and later struggled home just ahead of Vettel, plagued by understeer.