Massa answers critics in winning style

Brazilian Felipe Massa stormed to victory on Sunday for his second successive victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix and answered his mounting bank of critics as his Ferrari team celebrated a comfortable one-two with Kimi Raikkonen finishing second.

The 26-year-old Latin American, who had failed to score a point after an error-strewn performance in both opening races, came home as a comfortable winner ahead of defending world champion Raikkonen.

In a race overshadowed by the sex scandal surrounding embattled 67-year-old Briton Max Mosley, who is fighting to keep his job as president of the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), Ferrari were the dominant and supreme force.

They came home first and second ahead of third-placed Pole Robert Kubica of BMW, who had started from the first pole position of his career, and his teammate, German Nick Heidfeld.

This was enough for the BMW-Sauber team to lead the constructors’ championship for the first time.

”For sure, I had a not very easy couple of weeks, but that’s life,” said Massa.

”It’s not the first time and won’t be the last. I had two bad days in the first two races, but I know that we are quick.

”The race was difficult because I didn’t want to make mistakes. I was just controlling the pace and wanted to bring the car home. What was in my mind was the last race.

”I love this circuit. It is my second victory in a row. Always I have gone very strong here.”

Raikkonen said: ”All weekend has been really difficult. It has been just one of those things and I couldn’t get the car where we wanted. It was a bad weekend, but I still finished second and I am leading the championship.

”In the second stop, we had an easy time. The first stop I had some difficulties and some problems with the light system, but it didn’t change the things in the race.

”The car has not been perfect all weekend, but that’s life. I have never been too happy in this circuit, but out of the three races it is important to get as many points as possible. I am happy to be leading going back to Europe.”

Kubica said: ”We had some problems on the formation lap with a lot of wheel spin and with the race start I had a lot of wheel spin. Then unfortunately on the second lap I didn’t know about the oil and I took some debris in corner one and thought I had punctured the tyre.

”I didn’t know if I was going to pit and I lost second place to Kimi. But anyway a good result — third and fourth for the team and to be leading the constructors’ championship.

Massa clearly loves the 5,412km desert track in Sakhir as he repeated last year’s triumph, dominating the 57-lap race after blasting off the grid to take the lead from Kubica, the first Polish driver to start a grand prix from pole.

Massa, whose future at Ferrari is already the subject of speculation, led for all but six laps following his second pit-stop and always kept Raikkonen, winner of the last race in Malaysia, at bay.

Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen was fifth for McLaren with Italian Jarno Trulli sixth in the Toyota.

Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber and Williams racer German Nico Rosberg were the other points scorers in seventh and eighth.

Raikkonen now leads the drivers’ standings on 19 points, three ahead of Heidfeld, with Hamilton, Kovalainen and Kubica all on 14.

Pre-race championship leader Hamilton was always struggling, having dropped from third to 11th at the start after getting stuck on the grid when the red lights went out.

The British driver then lost his front wing after ramming into the back of former teammate Fernando Alonso’s Renault on lap two. He survived a massive trip across the gravel to pit for a new nose but returned back in 18th spot.

Ferrari dominated from the start. On a hot, windy and sand-strewn circuit, the 23-year-old Kubica was left behind as the leading Ferrari F2008 driven by the Brazilian took control.

Massa had a minor drama before the formation lap when he was called back to the Ferrari garage to have his radio system checked over and have new ear plugs fitted.

But that did not hold him up on the track and while he pulled away at the start, the luckless Hamilton was left struggling to leave the grid.

From third on the grid, the 23-year-old Briton fell back to 10th and soon after was involved in the dramatic collision with Alonso.

As they exited a slow corner, it appeared that the Renault driver slowed slightly and Hamilton, accelerating hard, hit the rear of Alonso’s car with the front of his McLaren, and flew into the air.

Hamilton’s car was damaged and he had to pit for a new nose and front wing. — AFP



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Gordon Howard
Television writer and producer Gordon Howard has over 8753 followers on Twitter.

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