F1 Grand Prix Of Europe

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Massa wins European Grand Prix

Aug 24, 2008 - 9:19 PM VALENCIA, Spain (Ticker) - Ferrari endured another bittersweet day as Felipe Massa swept to a comfortable European Grand Prix victory on Saturday.

The result was temporarily put in doubt when the stewards announced an investigation into an 'unsafe release' at the end of his second pit stop that saw him run wheel to wheel with Force India's Adrian Sutil.

The end result was that 'no sporting advantage was obtained,' with Massa fined almost $16,000 and reprimanded.

Within moments reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen ran over one of his own pit crew as he attempted to pull away at the end of his second stop, but with the fuel hose still attached to the car.

A disastrous few minutes was completed for Ferrari and Raikkonen when the Finn's engine blew, the team's second successive failure after Massa was robbed of victory in Hungary three laps from home three weeks ago.

At the end of the 57-lap race, Massa took the checkered flag by a comfortable 5.6-second margin from Lewis Hamilton, who at least has extended his world championship lead to six points over the Brazilian.

"It's amazing," said Massa after his fourth win of the season and ninth of his career.

"After such a bad result we have come here to a new track and we did a fantastic job. To get pole, take the win and have the fastest lap, you can't do any more. I am so glad and happy after the disaster in Hungary."

What unfolded came out of the blue because for the majority of the race it lacked the incidents many had been expecting from a street track.

Valencia's marina may not have Monaco's glitz and glamour, but under clear blue skies and with a 115,000 crowd bathing in hot sunshine, the scene was set for a storming grand prix.

But anticipation turned to dejection for the home fans when hero Fernando Alonso's race was effectively run after just two corners.

Williams' Kazuki Nakajima inadvertently drove into the back of the Spaniard's Renault, with Alonso losing the rear wing of the car.

Although he managed to return to the garage, the damage was too much for his mechanics to repair and return him to the track.

At the head of the field it was fairly routine stuff as Massa was clean and comfortably away from the 13th pole of his career.

Starting on the dirty side of the track on the front row, Hamilton was forced to fend off a charging Robert Kubica through the first two corners.

With the Briton holding his line, Kubica had to eventually back off, and from that moment the race was effectively run in many respects.

Heikki Kovalainen at least made the one significant move of note, passing Raikkonen at the start to claim fourth, offering team-mate Hamilton a small tonic at that stage.

A spin from David Coulthard after clipping Adrian Sutil's Force India as he failed with a foolish bid to dive down the inside at turn 17 was a rare incident early on.

The first round of pit stops passed uneventfully, but then it all went wrong for Ferrari at the end of the second.

As Massa exited, he and Sutil ran wheel to wheel, with the title contender forced to yield to the back marker whose left-rear tyre brushed the concrete barrier, as the German had the line through the single lane exit.

However, it was a clear mistake by Ferrari and Massa as his pit crew should not have released him with Sutil approaching, whilst he should have been more vigilant.

That resulted in the stewards announcing they would investigate the matter at the end of the race, which went smoothly for Massa as he coasted to the win that should have been his in Budapest.

Then came the trauma surrounding Raikkonen, initially as he pulled away following his pit stop, appearing to seriously injure the pit crew member who was taken away on a stretcher.

The engine blow-out which followed leaves him trailing Hamilton by 13 points in the drivers' standings with six races remaining.

Behind the leading duo in the race came BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, who is now 15 points adrift of Hamilton, whose McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen claimed fourth.

The remaining points scorers were Toyota's Jarno Trulli, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull, the Toyota of Timo Glock and Williams' Nico Rosberg.

In the constructors' championship, McLaren have again closed on Ferrari, with the gap down to eight points.

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