In a well fought battle between McLaren and Ferrari, Brazil’s Felipe Massa has won the Bahrain Grand Prix to bring himself into contention for the 2007 World Championship. From pole position, Felipe led a slightly slower starting Lewis Hamilton through the first corner, leaving Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to duke it out for the remaining places. The pair passed each other several times during the first lap, but it was Fernando who managed to run ahead of his chief rival.
At the back of the field, Jenson Button was tagged and forced into a spin which collected Scott Speed. Both drivers were forced to retire, and the safety car was deployed while the marshals cleared up the mess. Vitantonio Liuzzi seized this opportunity to pit and change his hard compound tyres for soft. However, the wise decision prooved academic in the end as the young Italian driver retired his Toro Rosso on lap 27.
The top four drivers thrashed the living daylights out their cars as they each battled with each other, trading fastest laps for the best part of the first stint. However, neither driver could really do much about the other, and while Alonso and Raikkonen were keeping their eyes on each other, Nick Heidfeld quietly crept up behind them in his BMW. On lap 31, Heidfeld made his move around the outside of the world champion, forcing Fernando to concede, but only after the two shared tyre paint.
The Renault’s didn’t enjoy their race too much, appearing to make initial progress, but then seemingly losing all sight of racing in the second part of the race and falling backwards. Heikki Kovalainen was made to look a fool as the customer Renault team Red Bull passed the Finnish driver for track position. In fact, David Coulthard was on fire in Bahrain, overtaking cars left, right and centre. From his lowly grid slot the Scot managed to haul his Newey-designed car into seventh before the drive shaft let go and Coulthard was forced to retire. Mark Webber also enjoyed a slightly more buoyant race than normal, but also retired his ‘Bull just 15 laps from the chequered flag.
By the time the final stint had approached, it seemed as though Massa had everything under control, and Kimi wasn’t too far behind. However, when the McLaren’s stopped and put on the hard compound, both drivers found extra speed in the car and it wasn’t long before Hamilton was bearing down on race leader Massa. Lewis consistently took 0.2-0.5s per lap out the Brazilians lead, but with only 57 laps, it was a case of too little too late.
Felipe’s win puts him back in the hunt for the World Championship, and with Fernando only finishing in fifth, the European and North American legs of the traveling circus are going to be critical to both teams if they want to edge out a lead. Currently, Fernando leads the title race, but Raikkonen and Hamilton all share the same 22 points that Alonso has earned, a Felipe moves closer with 17, with Heidfeld follwing in fifth with 15 points. The constructors has also closed up a little with Ferrari’s result today, McLaren leading with 44 points, and Ferrari trailing with 39. BMW remain in third with 18, twice as many as the reigning champions Renault.