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From Pole to Victory: Ferrari dominates Spanish GP

Kimi Raikkonen storms again from pole position to victory in a spectacular Spanish Grand Prix in front of a disappointed Spanish crowd. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen hereby became the eighth consecutive Formula 1 driver to win the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position, when he conquered Sunday's race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The Finn’s pursuit of victory was unaffected by two safety car periods .The second one was caused by Lewis Hamilton’s team mate Heikki Kovalainen who hit the tyre barrier very heavily at the Campsa corner (turn nine) on lap 22 at an estimated 130-150 km/h .The causes of this breathtaking accident pointed out a broken front left rim made by Japanese manufacturer Enkei, who had been sponsor of the Mercedes McLaren team since 1995.
Fernando Alonso, Renault R28 chases the Ferrari\'s on the run to the first corner

It became impossible for Heikki Kovalainen to use the car brakes as the left front Bridgestone tyre came off the rims converting Heikki Kovalainen from a Formula1 driver to a helpless passenger. Norbert Haug had estimated in an RTL-interview that Heikki was driving shortly before the accident took place around 200 km/h.

It took a while to pull the crashed car from beneath the tire-wall and to stabilize the Finn at the accident scene, but everyone felt relieved as he gave a thumbs-up while he was taken by a stretcher to the medical centre, where Lewis Hamilton's father visited him right away while the race was still on. Later on, he was flown to hospital for precautionary checks and a C.T scan, where his condition was described as stable. McLaren's team manager Martin Whitmarsch visited him at the hospital after the race.

The best news of the weekend was that Kovalainen didn’t suffer any severe injuries due to the excellent safety measure of the Formula 1 these days which have been forced by the FIA and Max Mosely in the past few years and which include among others stable and life-saving carbon-fiber monocoque and the head-and-neck-support system HANS. Kovalainen, who suffered a 27 g-force pressure at the accident, left the accident today (Monday 28.4.2008) and said he now only suffers from a stiff neck and some headache.

A lot of spectators remembered the famous accident of Michael Schumacher in which he hit the tire-wall straight ahead just like Kovalainen. The accidend took place at the 1999 Silverstone Grand Prix due to failure in the brakes of his Ferrari F1 car thus banning him with a broken leg to continue fighting for the 1999 driver’s F1 crown.
Spanish Grand Prix, Circiut de Catalunya , Barcelona, Spain. Nick Heidfeld (GER) in the BMW Sauber F1.08

This incident ruined Nick Heidfeld's race for BMW Sauber, since he was on a first long stint re-fuelling strategy and had just taken the lead after the first round of pit stops. Instead of coming into the pitlane immediately after Heikki’s accident took place on lap 22, he stayed out too long till both the safety car and the medical assistance car emerged and was forced to come in when the pit lane was still closed, and thus had to serve a 10 seconds long stop-go penalty later on. This strategy-mistake dropped him to a ninth-place finish.

Nico Rosberg was smarter and headed directly towards the pitlane when he saw the accident on one of the big live-screens as he assumed the safety car would come out and thereby close the pitlane. And that’s what happened indeed, but Nico Rosberg was in the pitlane before Safety Car driver Bernd Mailaender took off.

There were however other dramatic events which took place during the race. Felipe Massa who was starting from P3 and 8 meters behind Fernando Alonso overtook the Renault driver starting from P2 easily, thus affirming an early Scuderia Ferrari domination of the Spanish Grand Prix.

The first corner after the start signal witnessed the first safety car phase when Adrian Sutil spun in front of Sebastian Vettel which forced them to touch each other and landing in the gravel. Sebastian Vettel accused Adrian Sutil for his retirement as the latter was trying to overtake Scotsman David Coulthard at an impossible spot thus causing both of them to retire.
The vast majority attending the Spanish F1 Grand Prix were fans of Fernando Alonso, who were very disappointed when Alonso had to park his car

The first round of pit stops gave a clear explanation of the head-turning qualifying performance of Renault driver Fernando Alonso as he was the first driver from the top five to enter the pitlane, thus indicating a smaller fuel load and a lighter car. On lap 32 the Spanish dream was over and 132.600 spectators saw Fernando Alonso retiring due to an engine failure. Some Spanish fans started leaving the tribunes immediately after Alonso stepped out of his car.

Alonso’s team mate Nelson Piquet Junior was also short of luck in Barcelona as he retired on lap seven following a collision with the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais. Not the ideal and expected weekend for Flavio Briatore.

Mark Webber brought his Red Bull home fifth ahead of Jenson Button's Honda, Kazuki Nakajima's Williams and Jarno Trulli's Toyota. The Italian was held back by a long second stop and an unnecessary third one after a communication mix-up led the team to call him in instead of Timo Glock who broke his nose replacement after running into the rear of David Coulthard. The Scot's left-rear tyre was cut as a result, forcing him to drop back but he managed to overtake Super Aguri's Takuma Sato and claim 12th position before the chequered flag ended the race.

Giancarlo Fisichella was unable to resist the challenging BMW driver Nick Heidfeld, thus bringing his Force India home 10th, ahead of Toyota's Timo Glock.
William's Nico Rosberg was planning to finish his race in seventh place but he was let down as his Toyota engine broke down.

Even the pit lane which has an official speed limit of 80 km/h witnessed an exiting “race” as both of Barrichello and Fisichella tried to emerge first.
Honda's Rubens Barrichello had a collision in the pit lane with Fisichella, which led to his subsequent retirement as he did a lap with the damaged nose trapped beneath the car that caused sufficient bodywork damage to accelerate his retirement.
RBS Ambassador Sir Jackie Stewart talks with King Juan Carlos of Spain

Finally, Super Aguri's Anthony Davidson went out with mechanical problems.
It was a very chaotic and exciting race which augmented Raikkonen's championship score to 29 points and his lead to nine over Hamilton (20), while Massa jumps up to fourth on 18, one behind Kubica (19).

This race also broke another world-record: Rubens Barichello is now officially the F1 driver with the most F1 races. 256 races to be precise. Congratulation Rubens!

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