Turkish win puts Massa back in title contention 11 May 2008
No wonder that Ferraris Felipe Massa loves Istanbul Park. On Sunday afternoon he owned the place, and nobody seriously looked like challenging him as he sped to his hat-trick of victories here to move into joint second in the driver standings.
Sure, Lewis Hamilton pulled what seemed a brilliant passing move on him for the lead on the 24th lap, but it transpired that the Englishman was on a three-stop strategy for McLaren, and soon the way was clear again for Massa as Hamilton stopped to refuel and retain hard tyres on the 32nd lap.
Hamilton had sufficient in hand over Kimi Raikkonen, however, to keep the Finn in third place and to reduce his championship points lead to seven as they sped to the line 3.7s adrift of Massa, and separated by only four-tenths of second. The MP4-23 had been sweet on the harder Bridgestones, but still clearly didnt like the softer rubber that Hamilton had to don for his final 13-lap stint. After the race the team revealed that tyre durability concerns had in fact prompted the three-stop route.
Into fourth and fifth places came the BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, which lacked the sheer pace to play anything other than leading supporting roles this time out.
Fernando Alonso further boosted Renault with a solid sixth place, surviving a minor brush with Raikkonen in the first corner, and seventh fell to Mark Webber after another solid performance by the Australian for Red Bull. Nico Rosberg took the final point with eighth for Williams, and was followed home by David Coulthard in the second Red Bull and Toyotas Jarno Trulli as the last unlapped runners.
Hondas Jenson Button was a lapped 11th ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. The Finnish McLaren driver, who started second, was desperately unlucky to have to make an unscheduled stop for fresh rubber after two laps, having picked up a slow rear puncture following minor contact from Raikkonen's front wing - which sustained some minimal damage - at the start.
After that Kovalainen fought back from the rear of the field and had some great dices with Toyotas Timo Glock, in particular, and Rosberg, before dropping back in his final pit stop. He finished ahead of Glock, who again showed his fighting spirit, Rubens Barrichello, whose 257th GP outing did not produce anything to shout about for Honda, Renaults Nelson Piquet, Force Indias Adrian Sutil and Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel.
The latter duo both stopped at the end of the opening lap to have repairs made after Giancarlo Fisichellas unhappy weekend came to an end as he overtook Kazuki Nakajima - by flying over the top of the Williams. Neither the Italian, who landed his Force India in the gravel, nor the Japanese, who got to the pits minus his rear wing, were able to continue. The other retiree was Sebastien Bourdais, whose Toro Rosso dumped him in the gravel as the result of a technical failure.
The result leaves Raikkonen with a diminished lead in the world championship chase with 35 points, ahead of Massa and Hamilton on 28 and Kubica on 24. Ferrari extend their advantage atop the constructor standings, heading BMW Sauber by 19 points, with McLaren a further two adrift.