Massa Wins Again in Turkey – Felipe Massa scored his third straight victory in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was far from a straightforward victory for the Brazilian as he faced a stiff challenge from Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton ran a different strategy than the Ferraris of Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. He also pulled off a great pass for the lead–something that we so rarely see in Formula One. In the end it didn’t work out for Hamilton, who finished second, but it was a brave effort.
Massa started from the pole, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, Hamilton and Raikkonen. Hamilton surged into second place at the start, while the two Finns made relatively poor starts from the dirty side of the grid, and hit each other in the course of the first lap.
A first turn crash involving Kazuki Nakajima and Giancarlo Fisichella brought out the safety car for a short time. There also was drama when the track went back to green racing as Kovalainen had to pit for new tires following his collision–a move that dropped him to the back of the field.
Crucially, the Ferrari drivers were both on the softer compound tires, which they had found satisfactory in qualifying. In contrast Hamilton was running on the harder compound tires, which he had even chosen for qualifying.
Hamilton kept the pressure on Massa through the first stint, and after the first round of pit stops he really began looking for a way past.
Hamilton did get by Massa in brilliant style and then began to pull away. However, his second pit stop came early and the fact that he stayed with harder compound tires–meaning he was still due a mandatory stint on the alternative soft tires–showed that he was on a three-stop race strategy.
After his third stop, Hamilton was about 5 seconds behind Massa, who was running a two-stop strategy. That gap pretty much stayed the same as both drivers ran on their less favored tires–Massa on the hard compound, Hamilton on the soft compound.
Hamilton also had his mirrors full of Raikkonen, who was charging to try and take second place. But the positions remained unchanged to the checkered flag, with Hamilton splitting the Ferraris.
Behind the top three it was a familiar story. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finished fourth and fifth for BMW but were much further behind than they have been of late. Fernando Alonso showed that Renault has made a step forward by taking sixth, while Mark Webber was seventh, earning points for the fourth race in a row. The final point went to Nico Rosberg.
Kovalainen could only recover to finish 12th on a day when there were only three cars that did not finish the race.
Dixon on Pole for Indy 500 – Ganassi Racing came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month to be more aggressive. If it stays that way, the team might just walk away with the Indianapolis 500 win.
Chip Ganassi’s drivers, Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon, swept the first two positions in qualifying for the 92nd annual race.
Dixon’s lap of 226.366 mph gave the New Zealander his first pole at the Speedway and Ganassi’s third such honor, following Arie Luyendyk in 1993 and Bruno Junqueira in 2002.
Wheldon withdrew his qualifying effort that was good for the outside of the three-man front row for another shot at the pole. He earned the second starting spot at 226.110 mph.
Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske rounded out the first row.
The second row has a collection of strong race contenders: Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Patrick held the pole position for 34 minutes on Saturday, the longest for a woman at the 500.
The other drivers who earned a provisional spot in the field were Marco Andretti, Vitor Meira, rookie Hideki Mutoh, Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter.
On the outside looking in was rookie Graham Rahal, who like the rest of the field must re-qualify. Their first attempt at that will be Sunday, weather permitting.
Saturday’s only crash involved Ryan Hunter-Reay, who slammed the third-turn wall with 40 minutes left in the session. He was not injured.