Kovalainen wins as Massa blows engine
McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen has won his maiden Grand Prix of his career after major rivals suffered bad luck. At first Hamilton suffered a tyre puncture and 3 laps from the end, the leading Ferrari of Felipe Massa blew its engine. Timo Glock is a magnificent second, ahead of Raikkonen.
As the lights went out, Massa got off the line like a bullet and immediately went past Kovalainen. On top of that, he braked later than Hamilton and cleanly passed Hamilton in the first corner. Both Renaults also did well, with Alonso gaining one place on Raikkonen while Piquet temporarily gained 2 too but lost them again in the course of the first 2 laps.
Heidfeld, Barrichello and Bourdais did even better and passed 3 cars in the first lap.
10 laps in the race, Hamilton is approximately 2 seconds behind Massa and the gap is slowly increasing. Kovalainen is 4 seconds down on his teammate but has a very similar pace. It was mostly in the first laps that he couldn't keep up the pace. Behind him is another gap to Glock and Kubica, the latter being a full second a lap slower than the Toyota ahead of him. In 6th is Alonso who is followed by Raikkonen closely. Both men are running within a second of each other.
In lap 18, Massa is the first to enter the pitlane. He built up his lead to Hamilton to 4 seconds thanks to a string of fastest laps. Kubica and Webber follow suit. Massa rejoins the track just ahead of Alonso.
One lap later, Hamilton is in the pits for 9.4 seconds and rejoins behind the group formed by Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen.
In lap 22, Alonso and Raikkonen are in at the same time. Both get fuel for approximately 28 laps and maintain their order. Raikkonen was slightly held up before his stop when attempting to double Vettel. Just moments later, Vettel is in the pit and abandons the race with obvious technical malfunction.
Piquet only pits in lap 25 and therefore is able to make a lot of progress. He rejoins the track just behind Raikkonen, ending up in 9th place, ahead of Trulli and Kubica. The latter has been very unlucky with his pitstop as he was in 5th place before his stop and finds himself 10th after it.
David Coulthard meanwhile has moved up to 5th place. He pits in lap 29 and looks set for a single stop strategy. The Scotsmen is lucky to stay ahead of Barrichello as David is seriously faster than his Brazilian colleague.
Lap 32 marks a pitstop for Bourdais during which a brief flash fire is seen around the refuelling hose. He is able to rejoin the track. Moments later, the same happens with Nakajima and Barrichello. Earlier on, Toyota had to switch refuelling hoses as there also appeared to be a problem with Glock's pitstop.
Halfway through the race, Massa leads 4 seconds on Hamilton. Kovalainen is third, Glock fourth. Alonso and Raikkonen follow in 5th and 6th places.
In lap 40, Hamilton is off the track with a front left tyre puncture. He is able to get to the pitlane where he is fitted with the softer tyre and fuelled to go to the end of the race. He is again on the track in 10th place but stil has considerable time to make up as much time as possible.
In lap 43, Massa also makes his final stop and puts on the softer tyre. Kovalainen consequently takes the lead but is still due to make his stop. Due to Hamilton's tyre problem, Glock is now in a podium position and is closely on Massa's tail. He does however enter for his stop in the 46th lap.
Alonso pits in lap 50 after getting a little bit of room behind him as Raikkonen suffered some oversteer and went off track in turn 3. When Raikkonen also pits one lap later he finally made it past the Spaniard as obviously his Ferrari is much faster than Alonso's Renault.
With 15 laps to go, Massa is no comfortably leading, ahead of Kovalainen. Glock is still third with Raikkonen behind him on 10 seconds. Alonso is 5th but Hamilton is closing in and just has 3 seconds to make up to Alonso.
11 laps to go and Raikkonen is showing the true potential of his Ferrari. He has set the fastest lap and is closing on Glock by little more than a second per lap. At the same time, he has stretched his lead over Alonso to just over 10 seconds.
5 race laps and 2 fastest laps later, Raikkonen is at 8 tenths of Glock. That same lap, Sutil abandons due to what seems to be a brake failure on the right front wheel.
Three laps ahead of the end, Massa's engine goes up in smoke and he is out of the race. Kovalaienn is now in the lead and looks set for his first ever Formula One victory.
Kovalainen has therefore won his first Grand Prix, ahead of a maiden podium for Timo Glock. Raikkonen is third and Alonso a good fourth. Lewis Hamilton is still fifth, despite his bad luck.