Brazilian wins, as Hamilton takes second - and title lead
As far as McLaren were concerned, the wrong Ferrari broke down in Sundays Spanish Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonens F2007 was behind the silver cars when it slowed down and crept back to the pits on lap nine with an electronic problem. But Felipe Massas was in front, and that was where it stayed to the chequered flag, giving the Brazilian his second successive victory.
Try as Lewis Hamilton might, in making his record fourth consecutive podium finish in four rookie races, it was finally clear that the red car did indeed have a handy performance advantage as Massa had the upper hand throughout.
The one time he was challenged was by Fernando Alonso, who tried to go round him going into the first corner at the start. He nearly made it, but nearly was not enough and there appeared to be light contact between the McLaren and the Ferrari. It was enough for Alonso to slide momentarily off the road. By the time he jinked back on, Hamilton, who had beaten Raikkonen in the drag race, had slipped ahead and so had the Finn. So abrupt was Alonsos rejoining move that he nearly caused the two BMW Saubers, Robert Kubica ahead of Nick Heidfeld, to collide.
The incident ruined Alonsos strategy, which called, like Massas for an early pit stop on lap 19. It also gave Hamilton a clear run to second place, but it was soon obvious that, barring another disaster for Ferrari, Massa would not be beaten. He finished 6.7s ahead of Hamilton, with Alonso a further 10.6s adrift, thus becoming the first man to win two races this season. This, despite a dramatic flash fire around his Ferraris fuel filler as he exited his first stop.
Further back, Kubica had his best run of the season to annex fourth for BMW Sauber, but team mate Nick Heidfeld was desperately unlucky and eventually had to retire with fifth place in the bag due to a suspected gearbox failure. It followed an incident during his second pit stop in which he moved away before the right front wheelgun was disengaged.
That left the way clear for David Coulthards strongest race in a while, and Red Bulls first points of the season after a heady battle with three-stopping Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn, like Renault team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, was forced to make an extra stop due to fuel rig problems, but nevertheless brought his R27 home seventh, separated from Coulthard - who was without third gear for the closing laps - by Nico Rosberg, who brought three welcome points back for Williams to open their seasonal score.
Behind them, Takuma Sato was a very popular eighth, thus scoring the first-ever point for Super Aguri, after a great run in which he also benefitted from Fisichella's unscheduled late stop for fuel.
Fisichella battled all afternoon with the Hondas, first with Jenson Button and later with Rubens Barrichello. They both faded once the Italian had overtaken them during the pits stops, and a collision with Barrichello in Turn One after his second cost Button his front wing and a third stop. They finished 10th (Barrichello) and 12th (Button), split by Anthony Davidson in the second Super Aguri. Adrian Sutil made it past the first lap without incident to finish 13th for Spyker, ahead of team mate Christijan Albers.
The race was a disaster for Toyota, with Jarno Trulli delaying the first start after stalling with fuel pressure problems then and retiring early, and Ralf Schumacher also failing to finish. Neither Toro Rosso made it to the flag, Scott Speed surviving a dramatic tyre failure on the home straight, and Tonio Liuzzi succumbing to hydraulic failure. Besides Raikkonen the other retirements included Mark Webber and Alex Wurz, the latter clobbering the back of Ralf Schumacher during a first lap melee.
The result moved Hamilton ahead of former record holder Bruce McLaren as the youngest driver ever to lead the world championship, with 30 points to Alonsos 28, Massas 27 and Raikkonens 22.
I keep saying I am living my dream, he said, and its really true. Ive been working so hard, and to come out of my fourth grand prix leading the world championship, driving with top drivers in world, is just incredible.