F1 Grand Prix Of Spain

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Raikkonen cruises to win

Apr 27, 2008 - 3:02 PM BARCELONA, Spain (Ticker) -- Kimi Raikkonen cruised to victory Sunday at the Spanish Grand Prix, a race that was marred by an horrendous accident involving Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn miraculously suffered nothing more than a concussion after ramming into a tire wall nose first at 150 miles per hour at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The McLaren driver was eventually airlifted to the hospital with his neck in a brace.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, led from pole to flag, the eighth successive occasion that has occurred at this track to strengthen his lead at the top of the drivers' standings.

"I didn't make the perfect start, but I did enough to stay in front," Raikkonen said. "After that it was closer than we expected, although we had two safety cars and without those it might have been a bit different. We at least had the speed all weekend."

The main concern, though, surrounded Kovalainen who was leading the race on lap 21, although he had yet to pit compared to the leading trio at that stage.

Suddenly, Kovalainen flew off the track at turn nine before burying the front half of his car in a tyre wall.

On-board camera footage showed what appeared to be a part of the car breaking off, which instantly led to the front-left tire deflating, and with Kovalainen unable to turn out of the smash.

Not only was the safety car immediately deployed, but also the medical car such was the severity of the impact.

When Kovalainen's car was eventually hauled out of the tires by a tractor, there was nothing left of the front of the McLaren.

Kovalainen at least gave a thumbs-up sign as he was taken away on a stretcher to the track medical centre before being moved to the hospital.

"He banged his head and has concussion, so as a precaution will undergo tests," McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh said. "There are no other visible signs of injury, although he says he is aware he has hurt his elbow." Either side of Kovalainen's accident, it was a race of attrition such was the casualty rate as a spinning Adrian Sutil took the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel out of the race on lap one.

That led to the first introduction of the safety car as marshals cleared debris off the circuit.

The second Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais was bundled off the track on lap six by the Renault of Nelson Piquet who had tried to dive down the inside at turn 10.

Piquet, who had dropped toward the rear of the field due to an earlier spin, retired immediately, and although Bourdais made it back to the pits, his race was also run.

Anthony Davidson then retired after a stone punctured the radiator of his Super Aguri, which was a sad way to exit in what may be his last race if the cash-strapped team are unable to saved from their financial crisis over the next few days.

Rubens Barrichello suffered a collision with the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella as they exited the pit lane, dislodging the Honda's nose cone.

For an entire lap, and with the safety car on track in the wake of Kovalainen's smash, Barrichello was forced to trundle back to the pits again with the nose lodged under his front-right suspension.

Although the veteran Brazilian was given another new nose, it was clear his car had also suffered further damage as he too retired soon after.

The biggest disappointment for the majority of the 120,00 crowd was the sight of Fernando Alonso's Renault engine blowing on lap 35.

Alonso had started second on the grid, but off the line was unable to defend his position as Felipe Massa passed him.

Although he was also predictably running light on fuel, he was on course for a decent points finish as he was running in fifth when he pulled off the track, as did Nico Rosberg in his Williams that also sustained a blown engine.

At the head of affairs it at least proved a close run thing, but on a track where it is notoriously difficult to overtake there was never a chance for the top order to be reversed in any way.

Raikkonen now has a nine-point lead over Hamilton, with BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica a further point back in third after he came home fourth.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was fifth, with Jenson Button picking up Honda's first points of the season in sixth, while Kazuki Nakajima broke his duck for Williams in finishing seventh, followed by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli.

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