Valencia laid on a great welcome for the Formula 1 circus over the weekend and it deserved a more exciting inaugural race than this weekend’s uneventful European Grand Prix. It was the most boring race for ages and the problem wasn’t a lack of overtaking; it was the fact that the cars were so spread out.
F1 claims to be in the entertainment business, so it needs to have more than one car in any given TV shot. That was rarely the case yesterday and at one stage none of the 19 cars on the track (following Alonso’s first lap retirement) were within a second of each other. Oh how a Safety Car would have spiced things up.
‘The problem with today’s race,’ said 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, ‘is that everyone did a perfect job. When that happens in F1 you’re never going to get lots of action and overtaking.’
Everyone, that is, except Kimi Raikkonen. It’s been eight races since the reigning world champion last won and as was the case in Germany and Hungary he didn’t show up here in Valencia. He underperformed in qualifying – his own admission – before making a mess of his second pitstop in the race, which left his fuel man with a fractured left foot. A painful weekend for the Finn finally came to an end on lap 46 when his V8 blew in spectacular fashion.
Kimi now lies 13 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the title fight and Felipe Massa, who was faultless all weekend en route to his fourth win of the year, looks like the de facto number one at the Scuderia. If a Ferrari driver is to beat Lewis to the World Championship this year, the team needs to put its weight behind Massa immediately.
Lewis Hamilton: still leading
Elsewhere, Lewis seemed to settle for second as soon as Felipe beat him into Turn 1; Robert Kubica, F1’s street circuit specialist, drove a brilliantly consistent race to finish third and Sebastian Vettel confirmed his potential with an impressive sixth place. Given that the teams use the same chassis, how come Toro Rosso (workforce 180) were able to get their car working so much better than Red Bull Racing (workforce 620), whose drivers came home 12th and 17th? Proof, I guess, that money doesn’t always buy success.
2008 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX, 57 laps
1 Felipe Massa
2 Lewis Hamilton
3 Robert Kubica
4 Heikki Kovalainen
5 Jarno Trulli
6 Sebastian Vettel
7 Timo Glock
8 Nico Rosberg
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
1 Hamilton 70 pts
2 Massa 64 pts
3 Raikkonen 57
4 Kubica 55
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