F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand PrixFinal
Massa wins Bahrain Grand PrixApr 6, 2008 - 2:22 PM By Ian Parkes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
MANAMA, Bahrain (Ticker) -- Felipe Massa proved he was a contender for a world title on a day when Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso seemingly resumed their bitter rivalry.
Massa cruised to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking the checkered flag for the first time since last August's race in Turkey.
Despite Poland's Robert Kubica starting on pole for the first time in his Formula One career, the BMW Sauber driver was unable to prevent a Ferrari 1-2 finish.
"I had a good start, while Robert didn't," Massa said. "And then the race was difficult at the beginning because there was a lot of oil on the track.
"But during the race, the car was very good. I didn't push the car to the limit, and at the end of the day I had a lot in hand."
For Massa, it was his second successive victory on this circuit, and after all the speculation about his future in the wake of his poor start to the season, he is up and running and in the picture.
"I've not had easy weeks at the start of this season," Massa said. "It's not the first time and it won't be the last, but I know we are quick.
"I love the circuit. This is my second victory in a row. I am always very strong here."
World champion Kimi Raikkonen captured second to sweep to the top of the leaderboard by three points from Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber, with the Finn on the podium for the 50th time in his career.
"All weekend, it's been pretty difficult," Raikkonen said. "I've not been able to get the car right. But finishing second after such a weekend is not bad, and now I am leading the world championship so I have to say I am happy."
The bulk of the drama, though, unfolded once the five red lights disappeared to signal the start of the 57-lap race at the Sakhir circuit.
Hamilton, who came into the race with a three-point cushion in the drivers' standings but now trails Raikkonen by five, appeared to temporarily stall.
That forced McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen into a swerving maneuver around Hamilton's seemingly stricken car. But then the 23-year-old finally pulled away, finding himself amongst the mid-field runners heading into turn one and around the first lap, by the end of which he was running ninth.
Immediately ahead of the Briton was bitter rival Alonso, with no love lost between the duo following their feud last season when they were both at McLaren.
On lap two, Alonso appeared to ease off the accelerator for a split second.
But that was enough for Hamilton to run into the back of two-time world champion Alonso, losing his nose cone in the process, while the Spaniard also damaged his rear-end plate.
Hamilton then struggled for the remainder of the lap to return to the pits for a new nose, following which he dropped to 19th.
For the remainder of the race, Hamilton was unable to make severe inroads into the field ahead of him and could only finish 13th, as it appeared his car had suffered more damage than merely to its nose.
Out in front, the Ferraris were in a class of their own after the 26-year-old Massa succeeded in overtaking Kubica on the run down to the first corner.
In a wheel-to-wheel battle on lap two, Raikkonen also claimed the Pole, and from that point on it was a relative procession.
Kubica held onto third for the remainder of the race from team-mate Nick Heidfeld, and with the 11 points from the duo it means BMW Sauber lead the constructors' championship for the first time in their history.
The team hold a one-point lead over Ferrari and two to McLaren, who barely salvaged a miserable day with Kovalainen's fifth place.
Jarno Trulli in his Toyota was sixth, followed by the Red Bull of Mark Webber for a second successive seventh place, with Williams' Nico Rosberg taking a point for eighth place.