F1: Turkish Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, May 11th, 2008

 
 

On the surface it looks like more of the same – Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on pole for the third year running and seemingly on his way to another big stack of points for Ferrari. But look a little deeper and this has the potential to be a really interesting race.

Heikki Kovalainen has put his car on the front row for the first time in his F1 career after getting clearance to race following a dramatic 150-mph excursion into the tyre wall at Barcelona which left spectators fearing for his safety.

Lewis Hamilton followed him into third place following a questionable call over tyres in the final moments of qualifying which saw him choose the harder option for balance, and possibly sacrificing speed in the process. Could he therefore have a bit more in the tank that he hasn’t discovered yet?

Kimi Raikkonen could do no better than an uncharacteristic fourth after visibly struggling to control his car during the whole qualifying session. And Robert Kubica has been relegated to fifth for the first time in a while. In other news, Red Bull have two drivers in the top 10 and Honda’s pair are 12th and 13th.

So how will the Massa / Kovalainen / Hamilton / Raikkonen / Kubica drama play out today? Stick with us to find out… and remember to hit refresh to get the latest posts.

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Press conference: Hamilton says: “I’m thrilled to come second with the strategy we were on.” He says, as was evident from the press conference, that he was disappointed with qualifying. “Today we started on the hard tyre, we knew it would be very, very tough to challenge Ferrari. To finish anywhere in the top five would have been good.”

“Given a problem I deal with it, and so do the team. I have to say it, the team did a great job.”

He says McLaren needs to understand why Ferrari is dominant on certain kinds of corners and track areas in advance of Monte Carlo.

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Driver’s championship: Raikkonen still in the lead with 35 points – but Massa and Hamilton are now joint second with 28 points (Massa has more race wins). Hamilton has gained a net two points to cut the crucial gap between himself and Raikkonen.

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Podium: Hamilton looking delighted but being largely ignored by the Ferrari drivers…

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Post-race: Ron Dennis, interviewed by Ted Kravitz, said the whole strategy was based on a fear of a structural weakness in the tyres which means the team didn’t want to use them for long stints on a car being pushed as hard as Hamilton’s was. He describes Hamilton’s drive as “a good second place.”

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Final result:

  1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari (10 points)
  2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (8 points)
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (6 points)
  4. Robert Kubica, BMW (5 points)
  5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW (4 points)
  6. Fernando Alonso, Renault (3 points)
  7. Mark Webber, Red Bull (2 points)
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams (1 point)

(DC just outside the points in ninth. Button 11th.)

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Lap 58: Massa enters his final lap and looks set to win. Massa 5.2 secs up on Hamilton. Kimi just 0.7 behind him. Kubica is 17 seconds down the road for BMW in fourth.

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Lap 56: Two laps to go, and it’s as you were.

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Lap 55: Hamilton is catching Massa – but not at a fast enough rate, unfortunately. Let’s just hope he concentrates on making his car as wide as he possibly can…

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Lap 54: Hamilton is just 0.9 seconds clear of Raikkonen. Once again Kovalainen has overtaken Glock. Trulli is heard on the Toyota team radio: “Dont-a worry, I am-a pushing like hell…”

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Lap 53: Running order is Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Webber and Rosberg for points. Then come DC, Trulli, Button, Glock, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Piquet, Sutil and Vettel.

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Lap 52: Massa now 6.1 seconds ahead of Hamilton who has put absolutely nothing between himself and Raikkonen. However, if the race finishes like this, the Brit will make up two points from his nine-point deficit to the Finn. So fans will just have to hope that he can produce sufficient defensive driving for the next five laps.

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Lap 51: Kovalainen pits. Oh well.

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Lap 50: Hamilton is five and a half seconds behind Massa with Raikkonen a second and a half behind him. Oh, woe to the softer tyre. If Hamilton puts a foot wrong then Kimi will have him.

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Lap 49: Kovalainen takes Rosberg, is taken back. But the Finn eventually makes it stick for eighth place and a point.

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Lap 47: Order is Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Trulli, Webber, Rosberg, DC, Kovalainen, Button, Glock, Barrichello, Piquet, Sutil, Vettel. However that all changes as Kovalainen takes DC for ninth and is now closing on Rosberg. Trulli pits from seventh.

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Lap 45: The gap from Hamilton to Raikkonen is a second and a half.

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Lap 44: Hamilton’s pit crew is out, and he pits. He’ll have to put on soft tyres, which will probably help Ferrari. The stop lasts 5.9 seconds and he rejoins ahead of Raikkonen by quite a bit. Hurrah! Can he possibly challenge Massa?

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Lap 43: Raikkonen pits. What can Hamilton do? Raikkonen’s stop is 7.1 secs. Raikkonen comes out third, comfortably ahead of Kubica. Rosberg pits. Hamilton puts in the fastest middle sector of anyone so far. Can he win this race in the 15 laps remaining to him?

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Lap 42: Alonso emerges ninth. No sign of Ferrari mechanics yet, although Raikkonen must pit soon. Would an uncorked Hamilton be able to produce some hot laps? It sounds a tall order to us, especially as Glock is under his feet as he gets lapped. Heidfeld pits and comes out sixth ahead of Rosberg.

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Lap 41: Hamilton closing up on Raikkonen and is just possibly taking a bit of a look at him. Alonso has pitted.

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Lap 40: In the second round of pit stops for the two-stoppers. Massa and Kubica have pitted, which puts Raikkonen in the lead.

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Lap 36: Raikkonen 10.5 secs behind Massa, Hamilton a couple of seconds behind him. Is Raikkonen, bless our souls, playing rear gunner and holding Hamilton up in order to get Massa clean away up the track? Certainly Hamilton is not catching Raikkonen in the way he needs to in order to make his strategy work.

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Lap 35: Piquet makes Button overtake stick just as Kovalainen arrives on his back bumper. The Finn then goes on to blast past the Brit on the straight bringing him up to 12th place. Time for another go at Piquet, and let’s hope the Renault driver can hold his car on the line this time.

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Lap 34: Kovalainen breezes past Glock as Piquet cruises past Button. Then both of them get taken back, with the action described as “GP2 stuff” (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the personnel. Kovalainen eventually makes his stick, then starts looking at the back of Piquet/Button.

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Lap 33: Order is Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Webber, Rosberg, Coulthard, Trulli, Button, Piquet, Glock, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Sutil, Vettel. Piquet challenging Button, Kovalainen challenging Glock who is doing a good job of keeping him at bay.

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Lap 32: Hamilton gives in and pits. 6.2-second faultless stop. Another set of hard tyres means he, like Kovalainen, must definitely stop again. He’s thought to have taken on an additional 16 laps of fuel. Has come out third behind Raikkonen and now he has the job of pulling off what anyone must rate as a highly tricky overtake.

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Lap 30: Now we’re past half-way. Kubica in fourth 21 seconds behind Hamilton who now has 7 seconds on Massa and 16 seconds on Raikkonen – if only he can leverage this into something worth having. Our view here at Brits on Pole: whether this succeeds or not, it’s great to see McLaren taking the initiative and attempting to control the race for practically the first time this season.

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Lap 28: Tyres in the second stint do not seem to be performing as they did in the first stint for several drivers. Cars affected include Raikkonen’s and the Red Bulls. Hamilton’s lead is nearly five seconds. His driving in the lead has twice been described as ‘Senna-esque’ – which will give the nay-sayers something to bitch about, we suppose. Are we alone in finding that adjective a little bit creepy? Unless they are referring to Bruno and his dog-dodging escapade (or not) earlier today.

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Lap 26: Kovalainen pits from 11th, having received only the merest splash of fuel while in for his new tyre earlier. He stays on hard tyres, which means at least one more pit stops so the softs get used. Button has pitted from eighth.

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Lap 25: Hamilton’s already 2.5 seconds ahead – consensus of opinion is that he’ll have to come back to the pits in a few laps’ time. Kovalainen approaches the back of Piquet and as a result the young Brazillian messes up the corner so badly that he nearly spins, letting the Finn breeze past. Bourdais has apparently had a sudden car failure – his race is over. McLaren pit crew out for (we hope) Kovalainen.

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Lap 24: Hamilton is threatening Massa, they’re wheel to wheel – and Lewis takes him to lead! Unbelievable, given the difference in pace from earlier in the season. Hamilton’s scampering away from him, highly likely that this is because he’s on a three-stop fuel strategy and therefore lighter, but great stuff all the same. Massa has to give way, effectively, to avoid being forced off the track. A shot of the pit wall shows Ron Dennis’ back projecting considerable emotion.

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Lap 21: Raikkonen’s pit crew is out so he can’t keep this up for much longer. And he pits. Heidfeld is now leading. Raikkonen’s stop less than 9 seconds and he may have taken Kubica. He comes out considerably ahead of the Pole and Lewis Hamilton’s now in a bright red Ferrari sandwich. Let’s hope that Hamilton isn’t three-stopping. The clouds are getting ever-denser as we go to ads.

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Lap 20: Raikkonen, at the front, sets a fastest lap. He’s definitely looking to pick up places in this round of stops.

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Lap 19: Massa pits, stays on soft tyres. Is held by his pit crew for an extra second while Kubica comes in. He stays on hard tyres. Massa comes out maybe a second ahead of Hamilton. These two former front-runners are currently third and fourth with around 1.4 seconds between them. Raikkonen and Heidfeld, who haven’t pitted, are one and two. Never take your eyes off Kimi Raikkonen. What’s he going to try?

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Lap 18: Webber pits for Red Bull. Comes within an ace of coming out in front of Alonso – but doesn’t quite manage it.

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Lap 17: Kovalainen cruises past Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel. Suspicion that Hamilton may be three-stopping. Kubica in second has found a burst of speed indicating that he is probably running on fumes.

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Lap 16: Alonso comes out in 10th. Hamilton pits and catches his pit crew by surprise, apparently, since they come running out to meet him. Very, very quick stop – less than seven seconds. He rejoins sixth. Decision is put down by commentators to a very conservative fuel strategy by McLaren for fear of further safety car periods.

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Lap 15: Renault look to be the first to blink, coming out for Alonso’s pit stop. Only 0.7sec gap between Massa and Hamilton – let’s see what the pit stops do to that battle. Alonso pits from 5th and puts on hard tyres.

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Lap 14: Pit stops delayed slightly by safety car. Button in 11th, Barrichello in 12th, then Glock, Bourdais, Piquet, Vettel and then Kovalainen and Sutil bringing up the rear.

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Lap 12: Poor baby! Glock has been radioing to complain that Rubinho was holding him up. That’s racing, sonny boy. Kovalainen has finally overtaken a wide Adrian Sutil and is no longer last.

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Lap 11: Running order is Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, Heidfeld, Rosberg, DC and Trulli. Probably the two Hondas next. Hamilton is clinging to the rear of Massa but there’s so little happening that the TV director’s sticking with Kovalainen instead.

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Lap 10: We’re not going to say you’re probably safe to nip off for a cuppa before the pit stops start – because a statement like that two weeks ago narrowly preceded Kovalainen smashing into the tyre wall. You’ll have to make your own decisions today.

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Lap 9: Massa’s just done a fastest lap but Hamilton’s sticking with him – a second and a half behind and is doing comparable times. Trulli is closing down Coulthard for ninth and HK (his name’s too long to type) is stuck in 18th. A long afternoon ahead for him… Speculation that the cause of the puncture could be the price he’s paid for blocking Raikkonen, or accident debris.

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ITV ad-break: just to prove the BBC do a superior job – their live blog is reporting that Kovalainen had to pit for a puncture. Thanks very much! Rather important info, wouldn’t you think, ITV commentators?

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Lap 6: Hamilton has put in a fastest first sector and is pulling back Massa’s speed advantage. Ominous clouds visible on the Boy Wonder’s on-board camera. But where the hell is Kovalainen, and why did he pit?

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Lap 5: Massa adding an extraordinary half-second per lap to his lead. Jarno Trulli is running tenth, two down from his qualifying spot.

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Lap 3: No explanation of the Kovalainen pit stop – although he did get new tyres while he was in there. He’s come out in the thick of the field. Nakajima is recorded as retired. Button has overtaken Barrichello and Raikkonen’s option (soft) tyres are showing visible graining.

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Lap 2: everyone still lined up behind the safety car and struggling with tyre and brake temperatures, since this happened so early on. Safety car comes in and we’re racing. Massa at the front has bunched up the field. Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen pitting for some mysterious reason from fourth, then Alonso and Raikkonen. Hamilton sticking to the back of Massa and opeining a gap from Kubica already. Whut? Whut? Alonso has let Kimi past. Obviously doesn’t feel that particular battle’s worth fighting today. Vettel’s made it onto lap two!

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Lap 1: Kubica’s up to third on the start, Raikkonen squeezed out and cars off at the back. Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen lead the race. Possibly a safety car needed since Fisi’s off the track.

Fisi’s in the gravel, smashed up on the first corner for the third year in a row. Safety car is accordingly out. A Williams, Nakajima’s is pitting to have quite a lot of his bodywork replaced. Sutil for Force India is radioing his garage for a new front wing.

A replay of the start shows that Fisi hit the back of Nakajima and leapfrogged him. Plus, Kovalainen shoved Raikkonen wide, which explains where he’s gone.

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Parade lap: everything going smoothly as the cars line up for the start. But crashes on turns 1 and 3 of the GP2 race might presage a lively start…

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On the grid: weather unexpectedly cloudy and chilly leading to the aforementioned tyre dilemmas for some teams. There’s even a slight possibility of rain, which probably wasn’t expected by many of us.

Martin Brundle stresses that McLaren really need to do their stuff here if the rest of the season is to be competitive.

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Pre-race: Steve Ryder tells us that some teams are having tyre troubles due to unexpectedly low temperatures. Time will no doubt tell which ones. Also, it is reported that (not very inventive) paddock rumour has Toro Rosso as the next team to fall foul of the customer car rule and go under. A grid reduced to 18 cars – that’s an inspiring thought (not).

Quote of the morning so far: “You could break your legs walking down the stairs” – Heikki Kovalainen.

A horrible incident during the GP2 sprint race saw Bruno Senna hitting a stray dog on the circuit. While quite a common phenomenon in the outfield during certain south Asian international cricketing fixtures, stray dogs on the track are clearly surplus to requirements, to say the very least, in motor racing. Let’s hope they’ve got the situation under control.

ITV are doing a nice tribute to Rubens Barrichello for taking part in his 257th grand prix start – all power to him, he’s one of our favourite drivers, simply because he comes across as such a nice guy. (And took so much stick at the hands of Schumi and Ferrari. Ooh! Controversy!)

Hamilton is interviewed and says his aim is to make up places at the start if at all possible. Could be interesting…

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