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Massa unable to help Michael's title charge 27 Aug 2006

The podium (L to R): Race winner Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates with third placed team mate Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 27 August 2006

Felipe Massa seemed destined to triumph in the Turkish Grand Prix. He came into the Istanbul weekend expecting to dutifully assist in team mate Michael Schumacher’s championship quest - but in the end he was powerless to do anything other than win.

Schumacher had appeared unbeatable in Saturday’s opening two qualifying sessions and the German looked set to lead Ferrari’s front-row lockout. But then it all went wrong in qualifying three, with two mistakes at Turn 1. As a result, Massa found himself clinching an unexpected maiden pole.

Surely all that would change in the race, though? All went to plan at the start, with Massa leading his team mate into Turn 1, both staying safely ahead of the Renaults, despite Schumacher and Alonso touching briefly as the champion tried in vain to muscle past.

But on lap 13, Toro Rosso’s Vitantonio Liuzzi upset the script. He spun to a halt at Turn 1, causing the safety car to be deployed. Ferrari gambled on bringing both cars into the pits together. Michael had to wait behind Massa and the delay was enough to allow Alonso, who also pitted, to emerge ahead.

From then on there was nothing Massa could do to help. As Schumacher battled to find a way past his Renault rival, the young Brazilian effortlessly cruised away, building a lead of almost 12 seconds at one point. He backed off in the closing laps, but the radio call he was waiting for - to tell him his team mate had cleared Alonso - never came.

It was a great drive and a great win - and one which Massa surely deserved after giving such excellent support to Schumacher throughout the season to date. Whatever happens when Ferrari’s 2007 driver line-up is revealed at Monza next month, Massa now knows he will end the year as a winner.