Massa wins in Valencia

Brazilian takes fourth victory of season

Felipe Massa has won the European Grand Prix in Valencia ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica.
Starting from pole position, the Ferrari driver led from start to finish through the harbourfront streets of the Spanish city, which was hosting a grand prix for the first time.

With team-mate and World Champion Kimi Raikkonen retiring with engine failure on lap 46, the result also moves Massa up to second place in the Drivers' Championship, six points behind Hamilton.
The victory, Massa's fourth of the season, remained provisional for a time after his second pit stop almost brought a collision with Force India driver Adrian Sutil.
Sutil was forced to dart left and scrape the pit wall as both drivers accelerated away out of the pit lane.

Race control then announced that Massa's car was being investigated for 'unsafe release from a pit stop' by stewards.
And, although it was then announced that any punishment for Massa would be meted out after the race, he eventually escaped with a reprimand and a fine of 10,000.
Hamilton's McLaren Mercedes team-mate Heikki Kovalainen finished fourth, ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel.
Trulli's team-mate Timo Glock finished seventh, with Williams driver Nico Rosberg claiming the final Championship point.


Massa gave a dominant display in the heat of the Mediterranean summer, three weeks after an engine failure cruelly cost him victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
But Ferrari's afternoon was nevertheless a chaotic one, with Massa's pit lane infraction being followed by another incident which befell Raikkonen.
Disputing fourth place with Kovalainen, the two Finns pitted in tandem for the second time on lap 44.

However, Raikkonen's eagerness to get away saw him depart with the fuel hose still intact and also drag a mechanic to the ground.
As the mechanic was stretchered away to hospital - having suffered a foot injury and back pains - Raikkonen fell to sixth place behind Trulli.
But his race was soon run - Raikkonen's Ferrari trailing a plume of smoke across the start-finish line much as Massa's had in Budapest.
After qualifying fourth around the 3.380-mile track, it has to be said that, before his retirement, Raikkonen had once again failed to shine.
Massa looks Ferrari's best bet of mounting a Championship challenge on current form, the opening stint alone seeing him build a lead over his team-mate roughly the equivalent of one pit stop.

But it was during the second stint that he really extended his lead over the second-placed Hamilton, with Massa setting successive fastest laps on laps 34, 35 and 36 as he went 10.2 seconds ahead of the lead McLaren.
The race had already lost its biggest draw when Fernando Alonso retired with rear wing and suspension damage after his Renault was hit from behind by Kazuki Nakajima's Williams on the opening lap.


And it wasn't until lap 37 and Massa's near-collision with Sutil that the processional affair that had developed produced any more genuine incident.
Elsewhere, Kovalainen passed Raikkonen off the line to take fourth, with the next change of track position in the top eight coming when Trulli leapt ahead of Vettel for sixth at the opening round of stops.
Given the newness of the track, teams also were feeling their way in terms of tactics and strategy.

Most drivers elected to make two stops but Glock was among the few to pit only once as he climbed from 13th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag.
Despite his rather lonely race, Hamilton nevertheless sees his Championship lead increase by one point, with Massa now leading the pursuers.
Raikkonen drops to third place and now stands just two points ahead of Kubica.

In the Constructors' Championship, McLaren have closed the gap to 13 points on leaders Ferrari.
However, after another race for the Italian team not without its difficulties, they at least have the knowledge that they now head to a track - Spa-Francorchamps, venue for the Belgian Grand Prix in two weeks' time - on which they dominated 12 months ago.

European Grand Prix, result:

1. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1h 35m 32.339
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren +00:05.611
3. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 00:37.353
4. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 00:39.703
5. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 00:50.684
6. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 00:52.625
7. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 01:07.990
8. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 01:11.457
9. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 01:22.177
10. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 01:29.794
11. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 01:32.717
12. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1 lap
13. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1 lap
14. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India - Ferrari 1 lap
15. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 1 lap
16. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1 lap
17. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 1 lap

r. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 12 laps
r. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 16 laps
r. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 57 laps

(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)

Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa, 1:38.708, lap 36.