Felipe Massa sent out a clear message to his Ferrari employers that they should start to focus all their efforts on him for the remainder of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship campaign - after dominating the European Grand Prix from pole position.

Just as he had been in Hungary three weeks earlier, the Ferrari star proved peerless around the winding streets of the all-new, harbour-side Juan Carlos I Marina circuit in Valencia - the only question afterwards was whether he would be allowed to keep the win...

Prior to the race start most teams and drivers were factoring the likelihood of one or several safety car appearances into their strategic calculations, with some starting towards back of the grid chancing their hand with a one-stopper. The safety car would never materialise.

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Massa made a textbook getaway when the lights went out, but a tardy Lewis Hamilton had to rebuff a challenge from Robert Kubica through the opening few corners, as behind the pair Heikki Kovalainen significantly vaulted past countryman Kimi Raikkonen into fourth.

Further back, though, there was less decorum, as David Coulthard got spun around from behind - rejoining dead last - and Kazuki Nakajima calamitously clouted the back of home hero Fernando Alonso's Renault as the pack concertina-d up in turns four and five, unceremoniously removing the back of the Spaniard's rear wing and his own nose cone and in one fell blow shattering the hopes of the capacity crowd.

Both were left to tour around to the pits for repairs, but sadly for Alonso - whose weekend had run far from smoothly from the off, from his disproportionate EUR10,000 fine for crossing the white line on the exit of the pit-lane during practice to his failure to make the top ten in qualifying - it was game over before the first lap had even been completed.

That left Massa to pull out a 1.5 second lead over Hamilton over the course of the opening tour, with Kubica keeping the world championship leader honest in third, Kovalainen fourth and Raikkonen fifth ahead of qualifying stars Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli, with Nico Rosberg - the only driver to begin the grand prix on Bridgestone's super-soft rubber - Nick Heidfeld and a fast-starting Timo Glock rounding out the early top ten.

Further back, Adrian Sutil was getting quite aerated behind Force India team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella - clearly believing he was faster than the Italian veteran, and with Coulthard's recovering Red Bull Racing breathing heavily down his neck - while Hamilton pegged Massa on lap two, before the pole man began to break into his stride rather more and the field steadily spread out.

The gap at the front had been stretched out to three seconds by the end of lap seven, with Raikkonen - finally now coming alive and starting to hound Kubica and Kovalainen ahead - already a full ten seconds in arrears.

There was further misery, however, for Coulthard, who dived up the inside of Sutil only to see the door firmly closed which caused him to spin for a second time, losing a place to Renault rookie Nelsinho Piquet in the process. The Scot at least regained a position when Rubens Barrichello similarly spun a handful of laps later, though, the Brazilian's dismal weekend showing no signs of improving any time soon.

An oversteer-plagued Kubica, meanwhile, was beginning to struggle, as his BMW-Sauber pit crew readied a new front wing for the Pole and his poor pace allowed both Vettel and Trulli to home in on the back of the battle for third place too.

Sutil - who like Barrichello had begun from the pit-lane rather than the back row of the grid - subsequently found a way past Fisichella and immediately drove his point home by pulling effortlessly away, the young German again impressing around a street circuit as he did in Monaco earlier this year.

Higher up the order, Kubica was now inching away from Kovalainen, as the McLaren-Mercedes star found himself under increasing pressure from the scarlet Ferrari of Raikkonen behind him, with Vettel and Trulli just about staying in touch too.

Massa unsurprisingly became the first man to blink - but the timing of his stop, as early as lap 15, was something of a surprise. There was worse news still for Ferrari when the now heavily-fuelled Brazilian rejoined right amidst the scrap between Kovalainen and Raikkonen, and just squeezed in front of the sister F2008 as the defending world champion chose not to dispute the issue - to all intents and purposes destroying the latter's race and suggesting that Maranello's eggs have now been planted firmly in the Massa basket.

McLaren, too, were ready not long afterwards, but even a shorter stop was not enough to get Hamilton out ahead of the scarlet train. Vettel, Kubica and Trulli were also soon to make their first pit visits, followed more surprisingly by Raikkonen, leaving Kovalainen in the lead - and substantially the heaviest of the front-runners in qualifying.

Trulli successfully leapfrogged Vettel during the first round of stops, and very nearly jumped Raikkonen too by running the longest of the trio. Kovalainen finally came in at the end of lap 19, rejoining just in front of the BMW of Heidfeld, though still behind the sister Munich machine of Kubica.

Heidfeld pitted on lap 23, leaving Glock in fifth as the only one of the leading drivers not yet to have stopped, as Massa began to lap regularly more than half a second quicker than Hamilton to extend his lead and Trulli was starting to apply increasing pressure on the lacklustre Raikkonen - now lapping as much as a second slower than the fellow Ferrari of Massa - ahead.

The battle between the two Toyotas was interesting, with six seconds separating the pair and both with one stop left to make, while Glock in particular was replicating his Hungarian heroics by chasing down Kovalainen - though the reigning GP2 Series champ was warned by his Toyota mechanic that he would require a front wing adjustment at his sole pit-stop, making it 'a long one'.

Halfway through the race, Massa had established an eight-second lead over the pursuing Hamilton, whilst when Glock did finally pit, he regained the circuit in-between the BMW of Heidfeld and Rosberg's Williams.

A new fastest lap for the race leader sent out a signal to McLaren that whatever Hamilton may be able to throw at him, Massa could easily respond, and further back the occupant of the cockpit of the second Ferrari had seemingly woken up again, Raikkonen beginning to hound Kovalainen once more for fourth place as he realised he may be under pressure from the one-stoppers when he made his second stop.

There was drama during Massa's second stop, however, when he was released directly into the path of Sutil, the two of them briefly running side-by-side as the Force India was squeezed towards the pit wall. Sure enough, the stewards confirmed they were investigating the incident, while Hamilton crucially emerged from his own pit-stop just ahead of the yet-to-pit Kubica.

Further back, Vettel rejoined the fray ahead of countryman Glock, whilst fellow German Sutil became the grand prix's second retirement when he threw his Force India into the tyre barriers with 15 laps left to run.

It was then announced that the Massa incident would be investigated after the race, and there was yet more drama for Ferrari as Raikkonen and Kovalainen pitted together for their second stops. While Kovalainen's stop was far from a swift one, that of Raikkonen was a disaster, as in his haste to jump the McLaren, the Finn pulled away too quickly from his box with the fuel hose still attached, dragging the refueller down as he went and leading to subsequent medical intervention for the injured man.

That saw Trulli sweep past the world championship leader into fifth place as the latter rejoined, before just a handful of laps later Raikkonen's day came to an abrupt halt as the engine in his Ferrari exploded - much like that in Massa's car had done in Hungary three weeks previously.

On fresh rubber, Kovalainen was now the man on the move, taking more than a second a lap out of third-placed Kubica as he chased down the final podium position with nine tours remaining, whilst Fisichella was lucky to hold onto his Force India after almost losing control over one of the circuit's kerbs.

As the race neared its end, Massa reeled off the laps - unsure of what drama may follow - to seal his fourth victory of the 2008 F1 campaign and the ninth of his top flight career, bringing to an end McLaren's recent run of superiority.

Hamilton took the chequered flag second to retain his world championship lead, with Kubica upping his game in the closing stages to hold off Kovalainen's charge for the final podium spot. Trulli took a well-deserved fifth place, tracked across the line by the impressive Vettel, as the one-stopping Glock made it two Toyotas inside the top ten with seventh place, and Rosberg ending Williams' points drought with the final marker in eighth.

The remaining finishers were composed of Heidfeld, S?bastien Bourdais, Piquet, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Fisichella, Nakajima, Barrichello and Coulthard.

To see the race results in full, click here