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Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 15:12 UK
Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Montmelo, 25-27 April, 2008

By Andrew Benson

Kimi Raikkonen celebrates his Spanish Grand Prix victory with Lewis Hamilton visible in the background
Raikkonen's victory puts him nine points ahead of Hamilton after five races

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen extended his championship lead with a comfortable win at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Finn is nine points clear of Lewis Hamilton, whose McLaren was third behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari.

Raikkonen controlled the race, while Massa held off a late challenge from Hamilton, who himself had race-long pressure from Robert Kubica's BMW.

Fernando Alonso's Renault, which had qualified second to Raikkonen, retired from fifth place with engine failure.

The race was disrupted by two interventions by the safety car, the first on the first lap and the second following a nasty accident involving McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn lost control of his car following a breakage somewhere in the left front wheel area heading into the 150mph Campsa corner.

After two bad races, to be back on the podium is fantastic

Lewis Hamilton

The McLaren speared straight over the gravel trap and was embedded in the tyre barrier.

It took the medical team 10 minutes to extract Kovalainen from his damaged car, but he was conscious as he was taken away on a stretcher and could be seen giving a thumbs up to the crowd.

It is believed he has no injuries, but he was taken to hospital in Barcelona for medical checks

McLaren believe a stone became lodged between the tyre and the wheel rim, causing a sudden tyre deflation.

Raikkonen was in a league of his own at the front, as the Finn built a lead in the first stint and then paced himself to Massa for the rest of the race.

Heikki Kovalainen is lifted into an ambulance after his 150mph crash during the Spanish Grand Prix
Kovalainen gives the thumbs up as he is stretchered into an ambulance

"I didn't make the perfect start but did enough to stay in front," said Raikkonen, who collected his 17th Grand Prix victory in Barcelona.

"After that it was closer than we expected but at least we had the speed all weekend.

"If we wanted, we could have gone a bit faster but there was no point in pushing more than we need to."

Massa added: " We did our homework and we brought home two Ferraris first and second which is a great position for the championships."

But Massa was never that far clear of Hamilton, who pressed the Brazilian hard to the end of the race, while at the same time conscious that Kubica was less than three seconds adrift of the McLaren in fourth place.

Hamilton is now nine points behind Raikkonen in the drivers' standings but was at least pleased to be back on the podium after finishing fifth in Malaysia and 13th last time out in Bahrain.

"After two bad races, to be back on the podium is fantastic. It's a great relief," he said.

"When we qualified fifth we knew it would be very difficult to match the Ferraris.

"It was a bad day for Heikki but I'm glad he's OK. Ron [Dennis] came on the radio and told me he was OK. I'm sure he'll bounce back and we will keep pushing forwards."

The second BMW driver Nick Heidfeld would probably have taken fifth place, but the German suffered a penalty for making a stop for fuel and tyres when the pit lane was closed during the safety car period.

Alonso's Renault was not fast enough to battle with the McLaren and BMW Sauber, but following Heidfeld's penalty the double world champion was heading for fifth place on merit before an engine failure on lap 35.

Cheered on by the partisan crowd, he lost a place to Massa on the run to the first corner, but held on to the Brazilian well until his first pit stop on lap 16.

Fernando Alonso walks down the pit lane after retiring from the Spanish Grand Prix
Alonso retired, but not before giving notice of a Renault resurgence

As expected, Alonso was the first driver to pit but his strategy was not as outlandish as some had suspected it could be - Massa came in only three laps later.

Judging by Alonso's pace in the race, Renault appear now to be best of the rest behind the top three teams, which is a huge step forward from their lacklustre showing in the first three races.

"We had an engine problem - we blew up," he said. "Unfortunately, it is not the right place as it's my home Grand Prix, but I am very happy.

"We saw Massa stopping three laps later than us, so our qualifying was quite OK, and in the race we were close to BMW so I can enjoy racing again."

Alonso's retirement handed fifth place to Mark Webber, whose Red Bull team have also made a step forward with their car.

The Australian was comfortably clear of Honda's Jenson Button, who was the fastest man on the track in the final stint of the race.

The Englishman was himself some way ahead of the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima, with Jarno Trulli's Toyota taking the final points position.

The Italian was in sixth place behind Webber before a communication error led to the team calling him into the pits by mistake.

Nakajima's team-mate Nico Rosberg was ahead of the Japanese when he retired with an engine failure on lap 42.

Result of Spanish Grand Prix:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari one hour 38 minutes 19.051 seconds
2. Felipe Massa (Brz) (Ferrari) 3.228 seconds behind
3. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes at 4.187
4. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber at 5.694
5. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault at 35.938
6. Jenson Button (GB) Honda at 53.010
7. Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota at 58.244
8. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota at 59.435
9. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber at 1:03.073
10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari one lap behind
11. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota one lap
12. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault one lap
13. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda one lap
R Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota 41 laps completed
R Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 34 laps
R Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 34 laps
R Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren 21 laps
R Anthony Davidson (GB) Super Aguri-Honda eight laps
R Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari seven laps
R Nelson Piquet Jr (Brz) Renault six laps
R Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India no laps
R Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari no laps

see also
Ecclestone ups pressure on Mosley
27 Apr 08 |  Formula One

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