17 June 2007

United States GP

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen finished a solid third and fourth in the heat of Sunday's US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, seventh round of the FIA's Formula One World Championship. The pair finished 11.3s behind the all-powerful McLaren Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso who were just as close as the Ferrari pair for most of the 73 lap race.

The McLaren duo shot off the front row of the grid at the start in front of a noisy and enthusiastic crowd, and although Alonso challenged, it was Hamilton who held onto the lead in the first corner. Massa slotted into third place but Raikkonen lost two places off the grid, the only front runner on the harder Bridgestones.

At the end of first lap, Hamilton led from Alonso, with Massa in third, followed by Nick Heidfeld's BMW fourth and Heikki Kovalainen's Renault. Raikkonen came round sixth, with Jarno Trulli seventh and Giancarlo Fisichella in eighth.

However, Fisichella went off on the next lap at turn four, handing his place to Mark Webber. Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard were all eliminated when they tangled at the first corner.

Over the first 20 laps, the gaps generally opened up: the McLaren were 3.9s apart, 3.1s ahead of Massa. Heidfeld managed to stay in touch with the Ferrari, but left Kovalainen behind, the Finn being pushed hard throughout by compatriot Raikkonen. This pair were nearly nine seconds ahead of Trulli and then Webber.

Hamilton, Massa and Heidfeld were the first to pit on lap 21, followed by Alonso on lap 22, Raikkonen came in on lap 24 and Kovalainen on lap 27. That left the McLarens in the lead, ahead of Trulli and Webber who hadn't yet stopped. Massa was now fifth, ahead of Rosberg and Raikkonen, who had overtaken Heidfeld after the pit stops. When Trulli and Webber stopped around the 30 lap mark, Raikkonen was up to fifth place but stuck behind Rosberg who was on a one-stop strategy.

The McLarens had a tremendous middle stint, with Hamilton suffering tyre graining, so that Alonso got very close, the pair even running side-by-side on one lap down into the first corner. Massa was 11s further back but only about five seconds ahead of Rosberg - still yet to stop on lap 40 - and Raikkonen.

But when Rosberg made his stop, Raikkonen was soon gaining strongly on his teammate. By the second stops, he was just 1.7s behind Massa. Alonso stopped first on lap 50, then Hamilton and Raikkonen, and Massa on lap 52. At the end of the stops, the McLarens were just 1.7s apart but the pair were 14s ahead of the Ferraris who were 1.2s apart with 20 laps to go.

During the final stint, the McLarens were never more than a couple of seconds apart but 13s ahead of the Ferraris. The Ferraris were inseperable in the final stint and finished a sound third and fourth, while Kovalainen had another solid showing in fifth place. Rosberg should have been sixth but suffered an oil leak and fire just four and a half laps from the flag, which handed sixth to Trulli, seventh to Webber and eighth place to BMW Sauber rookie Sebastien Vettel, whose teammate Heidfeld retired with 18 laps to go with a hydraulic problem.

Massa stays in third place in the Drivers' series but now nine points behind second placed Alonso, while Raikkonen is a further seven points behind. McLaren have a lead of 35 points over Ferrari in the Constructors' series.

source: Ferrari Press Office


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