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24 Aug 2008 22:14
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa revived his title challenge on Sunday with a convincing victory in the European Grand Prix at Formula One’s newest street circuit.
The 27-year-old Brazilian led a processional race from pole position to beat McLaren’s championship leading Briton Lewis Hamilton by 5,6 seconds with Poland’s Robert Kubica third for BMW Sauber.
The result remained subject to a post-race stewards’ enquiry, however, after Ferrari released the race winner into the path of Force India’s Adrian Sutil during his second pitstop.
Massa’s win lifted him up to second in the drivers championship with 64 points, six fewer than Hamilton on 70, with six of the 18 rounds remaining.
It was Massa’s fourth win this season and helped him wipe away the disappointment of his enforced retirement, while leading with three laps remaining, from the Hungarian Grand Prix three weeks ago.
It was also the ninth win of the Brazilian’s career, achieved in exemplary fashion, and ended McLaren’s run of three victories in a row.
Massa’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was involved in a nightmare pitstop, with the world champion accelerating away with the fuel hose still attached in an incident that left a mechanic on the ground.
The Finn, who had started the day second overall in the championship, retired two laps later when his car’s engine blew. He fell to third overall with 57 points while Kubica moved closer on 55.
The stewards announced a further investigation into Raikkonen’s pitstop accident.
Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen of Finland came home fourth ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota and 21-year-old German Sebastian Vettel who was sixth for Toro Rosso.
Timo Glock of Germany was seventh for Toyota and another German Nico Rosberg eighth for Williams.
The race was run in hot sunshine but produced few thrills for the 115 123 spectators packed into the grandstands around the Mediterranean harbour.
In a major disappointment for Spanish fans, their double world champion Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after the opening lap when his Renault and the Williams of Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima collided.
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