Barcelona: Ferrari’s Felipe Massa won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to leave 22-year-old rookie Lewis Hamilton on top of the world as Formula One’s youngest championship leader.
Double world champion Alonso finished third, eclipsed before his 140,700 strong home crowd by his McLaren teammate and the Brazilian winner — with whom he had collided at the first corner.
The Briton, totally unfazed and now the only driver in Formula One history to finish his first four races on the podium, leads the standings with 30 points to Alonso’s 28 and Massa’s 27.
In finishing second, for the third race in a row after a debut third-place in March, he replaced the team’s late founder Bruce McLaren in the record books as the sport’s youngest championship leader.
“I keep saying I’m living my dream and it’s really true, you know,” said Hamilton. “I’ve worked so hard for this. To go into my fourth Grand Prix and come out of it leading the championship, when I’m with the top drivers in the world, is just incredible.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, level on 22 points with Alonso and Hamilton before the start, retired after 10 laps with a mechanical problem.
Massa, celebrating his second win in a row and fourth of his career on a bright afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya, started on pole position and only ceded the lead at the pitstops. The Brazilian, pilloried by the Italian media after a glaring mistake in the Malaysian Grand Prix in April, took the chequered flag 6.7 seconds clear of Hamilton.
“The most difficult part was the start,” said Massa. “After that, I had the race in my hands.”
Hamilton made a great start from fourth place, slipping past Raikkonen into the first corner and snapping up second place when Massa closed the door on Alonso and forced the Spaniard to run wide over the gravel.
Alonso was critical of Massa’s conduct in a later news conference, suggesting it was a dangerous manoeuvre that had damaged his car and could have put both drivers out of the race.
Massa rejected that out of hand: “I have always been the first one to say when I made a mistake. But this time, don’t tell me I made a mistake. This is racing, this is Formula One,” he retorted.
“I didn’t want to lose like I lost in Malaysia,” added Massa. “I was inside and just tried to stay there. We touched... I was a bit afraid after about my car but fortunately nothing happened.” That was the only time Massa was seriously challenged, the only danger after that coming at the first pitstop when spilt fuel around the fuel cap ignited in a sheet of flame as the 26-year-old pulled away.
Alonso was fourth at the end of first lap but moved back to third when Raikkonen slowed with an alternator problem and retired.
Poland’s Robert Kubica finished fourth for BMW Sauber after teammate Nick Heidfeld, who led for a lap, retired after a troubled second pitstop.
Briton David Coulthard, at 36 the oldest driver in the race, claimed Red Bull’s first points of the season in fifth place at the circuit where he made his Formula One debut in 1994.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg was sixth for Williams with Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen seventh for Renault. Japan’s Takuma Sato gave Super Aguri their first point with eighth place.The race was shortened by a lap after the first start was aborted because Italian Jarno Trulli’s Toyota had stalled in sixth place on the grid. Trulli was pushed away and began the race from the pit lane.
His teammate Ralf Schumacher also had a miserable afternoon, rammed from behind by the Williams of Austrian Alexander Wurz when he braked into the new chicane on the opening lap.
SPANISH Grand Prix
1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1 hour 31 minutes 36.230 seconds; 2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:31:43.020; 3. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 1:31:53.686; 4. Robert Kubica (BMW-Sauber) 1:32:07.845; 5. David Coulthard (Red Bull) 1:32:34.561; 6. Nico Rosberg (Williams) 1:32:35.768; 7. Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) 1:32:38.358; 8. Takuma Sato (Super Aguri-Honda) 1 lap; 9. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 1 lap; 10. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) 1 lap; 11. Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri-Honda) 1 lap; 12. Jenson Button (Honda) 1 lap; 13. Adrian Sutil (Spyker-Ferrari) 2 laps; 14. Christijan Albers (Spyker-Ferrari) 2 laps; r. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) 19 laps r. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) 21 laps r. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 46 laps r. Scott Speed (Toro Rosso – Ferrari) 56 laps r. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 56 laps r. Mark Webber (RedBull-Renault) 57 laps r. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 58 laps r. Alexander Wurz (Williams – Toyota) 64 laps
Drivers — 1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 30 points; 2. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 28; 3. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 27; 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 22; 5. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) 15; 6. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) 8 and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 8; 8. Nico Rosberg (Williams) 5; 9. David Coulthard (Red Bull) 4 and Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 4; 11. Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) 3; 12. Takuma Sato (Super Aguri) 1 and Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) 1
Constructors — 1. McLaren-Mercedes 58 points; 2. Ferrari 49; 3. BMW Sauber 23; 4. Renault 11; 5. Williams-Toyota 5; 6. Toyota 5; 7. RedBull- Renault 4; 8. Super Aguri-Honda 1