• Bahrain Grand Prix

Massa silences critics

ESPNF1 Staff
April 6, 2008
Massa celebrated his victory in style © Sutton Images
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Felipe Massa arrived in Bahrain under pressure. He had retired from both previous races of the season after spins and the Italian media was calling for his head. Massa responded in the best possible fashion by dominating the race and overshadowing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who finished second.

Robert Kubica made history in qualifying by becoming the first Polish driver to take a pole position in F1. Kubica's BMW was lighter on fuel so had to stop earlier than the two Ferraris that teamed with a poor start left him third in the opening stint and he never recovered. The Ferraris were in a class of their own.

Nick Heidfeld took fourth in the second BMW Sauber, while Heikki Kovalainen upheld McLaren's honour for fifth after Lewis Hamilton had a dreadful weekend. It started badly with an accident in practice on Friday, but he recovered his composure to take third in qualifying. A bad start left him battling in the pack and he hit the back of former team-mate Fernando Alonso's Renault causing frontal damage. Thirteenth was Hamilton's result after a scrappy race.

Kubica's strong result promoted BMW to the lead of the constructors' championship, while in the hunt for the drivers crown Raikkonen topped the table.

For Massa it was a crucial win to kick-start his title aspirations and it also quelled the media storm asking whether he was up to the job. After 57 laps in Bahrain, there was no doubt as to his ability.

"The race was pretty difficult in the beginning," said Massa, "because there was a lot of oil on the track. We almost went off, me and Robert [Kubica], and it was pretty difficult. During the race I didn't push completely to the limit because I saw the gap increasing and then Kimi [Räikkönen] was behind but I could manage to keep the gap to him."