Felipe Massa did exactly what he had vowed to do in the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix, sealing his second successive Istanbul triumph to launch both himself and Ferrari
back into the world championship fight.
As last year when he stormed to his maiden Formula 1 success ahead of Michael Schumacher, the Brazilian was flawless in the Turkish heat, seeing off the challenge of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen
to prevail on a day when everything it seemed could go wrong for McLaren
With the four championship contenders looking evenly-matched on the front two rows of the grid and the world title fight balanced on a knife-edge with only six races remaining, the race was always going to be a high-drama affair. So it was to prove.
Indeed, David Coulthard
was in trouble even before it had got underway, with gearbox issues on the warm-up lap round to the grid, but his woes were nothing as compared to those of the two McLaren
drivers when the lights went out, with both suffering from being on the dirty side of the grid.
As Massa led away from pole, Raikkonen from row two sling-shot past Lewis Hamilton
into second place but it was Fernando Alonso
who really lost out, being passed by both the BMW-Saubers to drop back down to sixth. A little further back, Jarno Trulli
got nudged into a spin by the slow-starting Renault
of countryman Giancarlo Fisichella
heading into turn one, but luckily the rest of the pack somehow managed to avoid the rotating Toyota
and Jarno lived to fight another day, albeit now all the way down in last place.
By the end of the opening lap alone Alonso was already a staggering 3.5 seconds down on the leading Ferraris, and clearly determined to get past Nick Heidfeld, as evinced by him coming perilously close to losing it as he pushed just a little too hard on lap three.
The two scarlet machines, meanwhile, were separated by barely a second and continuing to edge clear of Hamilton at the front, with Raikkonen sitting in formation behind his Brazilian team-mate. Further down the order, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg
and the twin Red Bull
Racing cars of Coulthard – betraying none of its earlier gearbox woes – and Mark Webber
completed the early top ten.
On lap ten, however, it was Webber and not Coulthard who would encouter problems, running off-piste as a result of a hydraulic problem and touring into the pit-lane at the end of the lap and into inevitable retirement – the fifth of 2007 for the luckless Australian.
Robert Kubica was the first driver to blink when it came round to the proper pit-stops, coming in at the end of lap 13 in a move that perhaps betrayed his true qualifying pace, while team-mate Heidfeld continued to frustrate Alonso's ambitions, the Spaniard at times lapping more than a second slower than the Ferrari
duo trapped in the BMW's dirty air.