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Safety Car and Hamilton Stop Ferrari - (Canada)

June 8th, 2008



Four points was a meagre reward for Scuderia Ferrari in the Canadian Grand Prix at the weekend (8/6/2008), thanks to a great drive to fifth place for Felipe Massa.

“It's hard to express my feelings after a race like this,” said Massa at the finish. “On the one hand, I am disappointed because, without my refueling problem, I could have been fighting for a place on the podium. On the other hand, I am happy to have brought home four points at the end of a very difficult race run on a track surface that was in really poor condition. Once I found myself at the back, I tried to climb back up again, but in the end, when I was behind Glock, I could not get past him and also I didn't want to run the risk of ending up off the track after all the trouble I'd been to to get that far. I would like to congratulate Kubica and BMW: they worked really well and deserved this success. They are very strong, but I think we are working in the right direction, as could be seen from our performance level every day here.”

For the second time in two races, the Scuderia's race was compromised by Lewis Hamilton and the Safety Car, as Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated, when the McLaren driver ran into the back of the Finn, who was waiting for the pit lane traffic light to go green, when the field pitted during the race's only Safety Car period.

"There's not much I can say,” commented Raikkonen. “My race was ruined by Hamilton's mistake. Obviously, anyone can make mistakes, as I did two weeks ago in Monaco, but it's one thing to make a mistake at two hundred per hour but another to hit a car stopped at a red light. I am not angry because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result! I am unhappy, because I had a great chance of winning. Once the graining had gone from the tyres, the car was going very well. I have failed to score in these last two races and now it's time to start winning again. There is still a long way to go in the championship and it is still very close and we have everything we need to regain the ground we have lost."

Scoring his and his BMW-Sauber's maiden F1 victory was Robert Kubica, who was followed home by team-mate Nick Heidfeld. The last place on the podium went to Red Bull's David Coulthard. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro still lead the Constructors' classification, three points clear of BMW-Sauber. Kubica now heads the Drivers' table on 42 points with Hamilton and Massa now tied on 38, three more than Raikkonen.

The weather did not look like being a problem before the start, however there was a question mark over the broken track surface, particularly at the hairpin. One of the reasons given for what happened on Saturday is that, without traction control, the cars were putting a lot more force onto the track surface. Whatever the reason, the organisers had tried to sort the problem by putting down a layer of concrete over the offending parts of the track. But prior to the start, drivers were told to avoid the apex of several corners on the formation laps as the repairs were still going on. Starting from pit lane were Jenson Button in the Honda and Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari.

As the lights went out, all drivers seemed to be aware that the first corner here is very tricky and the only change to grid order was Rosberg moving his Williams up from fifth to fourth. On lap 2, Barrichello overtook Heidfeld to go eighth, but the German got by again on lap 5.

On lap 8, Hamilton led Kubica by 3.6 seconds, with Raikkonen a further 3.2 behind. Fourth was Rosberg, ahead of Alonso, who had Massa closing on his Renault, just 0.4 behind. Then came Kovalainen, with Heidfeld in the last points scoring position, eighth. One lap later, Piquet got his Renault past Glock's Toyota to go fourteenth. A couple of laps later, the Brazilian barged past Trulli in the other Toyota to go thirteenth. There was also a good battle for seventh, as Kovalainen in the McLaren was having to fight off Heidfeld in the BMW-Sauber. On lap 15, Sutil parked his Force India at the side of the track and everyone held their breath to see if a Safety Car would be required. It was at this point that Kimi set a fastest race lap, as he began to close (0.7) on Kubica. Out in front, Hamilton was almost seven seconds clear of the Polish BMW driver.

But then all gaps were closed right up, as the Safety Car did come out to recover the Force India car after one of its brakes caught fire. But there was a disaster in the pit lane for Raikkonen. He went to the end of pit lane, alongside Kubica. The light was red as the SC and other cars were coming past the end of pit lane, but Hamilton did not stop and ran straight into the back of Raikkonen. The Englishman's mistake ended both their races. Rosberg was also caught up in this incident and had to re-pit for a new nose in the Williams.

The order as the SC came in on lap 21 was now Heidfeld, Barrichello, Nakajima, Webber, Coulthard, Trulli, Glock, Fisichella, Vettel. None of these had refuelled. Then came Kubica, Alonso, Massa in the sole Ferrari, Piquet, Kovalainen, Button and Bourdais, followed by Rosberg. Massa then came in again on lap 21 as, because of a misunderstanding, he had not taken on any fuel the previous lap. The Brazilian was down to seventeenth. Race leader Heidfeld pitted on lap 22 for 12.4 seconds, as Webber also came in on this lap. Heidfeld rejoined in front of Kubica.

This left Barrichello in the Honda leading while Heidfeld let team mate Kubica get past next time through Turn 1. The top six, Barrichello, Nakajima, Coulthard, Trulli, Glock and Vettel were the only cars yet to refuel. Second placed Nakajima in the Williams came in on lap 33, promoting Coulthard to second in the Red Bull, while Felipe had a bit of moment, running wide but continuing, now in fourteenth place. Race leader Barrichello pitted at half distance (lap 35) promoting Coulthard to the lead, from the Toyota duo of Trulli and Glock. Vettel was now fourth with Kubica fifth. Massa was up to twelfth, but when those who had yet to pit came in to refuel, he would move further up.

New leader Coulthard came in on lap 37, leaving the Toyotas at the front, the only cars not to have refuelled. Vettel also pitted at this point. Piquet retired the Renault with brake failure on lap 41. A battle between Nakajima and Button promoted Massa to eighth. So with everyone pitted at least once, the order was headed by the BMW duo of Kubica and Heidfeld, the important difference being that the Pole still had to make one more visit to the pits for fuel. Third was Alonso who was also expected to make another stop, followed by Coulthard, Barrichello, Kovalainen, with Massa seventh.

On lap 46 Alonso's race was over as he spun out at Turn 7. Then Nakajima retired at the end of the pit lane after colliding with Button. Kubica was flying and had to build up a lead of at least 25 seconds if he was to manage his second refuelling and still come out ahead of team-mate Heidfeld. On lap 48 he was 25.1 in the lead. Coulthard was third at this stage, followed by Barrichello, Kovalainen and Massa up to sixth.

Kubica duly came in on lap 48 for 7.5 seconds and that was enough for him to maintain the lead. Barrichello, Kovalainen and Massa were having a great fight, all very close in fourth, fifth and sixth places. Then in a fantastic move at the hairpin, as Kovalainen tried to pass Barrichello, Felipe charged through going past both of them on the inside line to move up instantly from sixth to fourth. With eighteen laps to go, the Force India of Fisichella went off the track at Turn 4. Massa made his second stop for a brief 6.2 seconds on lap 53, dropping to seventh. With nine laps to go, Felipe got past fellow countryman Barrichello, at the final corner, to move up to sixth. Then he began closing on fifth placed Trulli and on lap 67, he made it to go fifth.

Now the Ferrari man had his sights set on the fourth placed Toyota of Glock. Could he do it with just two laps remaining? Unfortunately not. So at the flag, BMW-Sauber confirmed its first ever Grand Prix victory by making it a one-two with Kubica taking his maiden win ahead of Heidfeld, followed by Coulthard taking his first points this year with a third placed podium. Fourth was Glock in the Toyota, ahead of Felipe in fifth. Jarno Trulli was sixth for Toyota, ahead of Rubens Barrichello in the Honda, with Sebastian Vettel picking up the final point for Toro Rosso in eighth place.

"There is much for us to regret about the outcome of this race,” Ferrari Team Boss, Stefano Domenicali. “We saw one of our drivers retire because he was hit when stopped at the exit of the pit lane in front of the red light. It was a serious mistake from Hamilton and I think the penalty imposed by the FIA is in line with it, even if it does not restore what was a lost opportunity for us. In fact, Kimi was in an excellent position to fight for the win, partly thanks to a car which showed it was running at a great pace. Felipe drove an exceptional race. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the refueling rig when he made a pit stop during the safety car period - a joint in the fuel line broke and no fuel went in - and we had to call him in next time round for a further stop that dropped him to the back of the field. Felipe did not lose heart and produced a great climb up the order which ended up with him finishing fifth. These are very important points which today allow us to maintain our lead in the Constructors' Championship. I spoke earlier of regret, but I would add that it is today's disappointment that actually strengthens our desire to fight back. We know there is still a long season ahead of us up against very strong opponents and so we say congratulations to BMW and Kubica for their first victory, but we are also aware of our own strengths that are a match for anyone."


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