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Bahrain 2008: Massa's challenge finally on-track.

The principal action in the closing laps came courtesy of Barrichello's efforts to find a way past Alonso for the final position in the top ten – the pair sadly, as Martin Brundle put it, “driving their hearts out for nothing really, in many respects” – whilst the two BMWs' late charge saw Kubica close to within four seconds of Raikkonen, lapping as much as a second quicker than the Ferrari as the two scarlet machines suddenly started to come under pressure for the first time in the grand prix.

A new fastest lap for Heidfeld was almost immediately usurped by a stunning effort from Kovalainen, almost four tenths of a second quicker than anyone else as the hard tyres on his McLaren came right on-song in the race's dying laps. Massa, at least, seemed safe from the BMW threat some 7.4 seconds up the road from the sister F2008, but Raikkonen's runner-up spot – with just six laps remaining – was rather less assured.

The Finn, though, was able to up his pace once more, staving off Kubica's unwanted attentions to re-establish his second place, but a little way further up the track Massa cruised on untroubled, and would take the chequered flag – waved by old 'Slowhand' himself, Eric Clapton – some 3.3 seconds to the good to complete a back-to-back Sakhir success story, open his world championship account with a vengeance and establish himself as the form driver in Bahrain.

Behind second-placed Raikkonen, Kubica and Heidfeld crossed the line separated by just 3.4 seconds and both within a scant ten seconds of the race winner, in so doing not only confirming BMW's arrival as a genuine world championship contender in 2008, but also propelling the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit to the top of the constructors' standings for the first time.

McLaren's sole points-scorer on a dark day for the Woking-based squad, Kovalainen, finished a lonely and distant fifth – albeit with the race's fastest lap to his name – ahead of the consistently impressive Trulli, Webber notching up a couple more points for RBR and a disappointed Rosberg taking the final marker in eighth.

Glock finally got a Formula 1 finish under his belt in ninth, ahead of Alonso – who successfully held Barrichello off to the close – Fisichella in the ever-improving Force India and Hamilton ultimately trailing home an unlucky 13th, summing up a weekend that has not only seen him forced to surrender the drivers' world championship lead to Raikkonen and second place to Heidfeld, but indeed fail to score for only the third time in his grand prix career. If he is to achieve his objective of lifting the laurels this year, he will be hoping it is also the last.

To see the race result in full, click here


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008, Bahrain F1 Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, 4-6th, April, 2008
Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 Pole Position, Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Sepang, Kuala Lumpar, 21st-23rd, March 2008
Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber.F1.08, Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Sepang, Kuala Lumpar, 21st-23rd, March 2008
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