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Formula 1 News - August, 2008
Team-by-team summary: Sunday, Valencia

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Pole, fastest race lap and well-deserved victory for Felipe Massa, but a messy overall performance by the Ferrari team. The Brazilian, now 6 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton, was lucky to escape a post-race stewards' investigation with only a 10,000 euro fine, after his crew released him from a pitstop into the path of Adrian Sutil's Force India. The operation of the sister car, meanwhile, was a disaster; not only another weak showing by Kimi Raikkonen, but - after Massa's Budapest failure - another blown V8 engine. Before that, the reigning world champion dropped the clutch before his crew had finished refuelling and before he was shown a green light, and his rear wheel struck mechanic Pietro Timpini, who despite a trip to hospital only has a fractured foot.



Despite finishing second to Massa, Hamilton - revealing he has struggled with the 'flu, fever and severe neck spasms all weekend and nearly didn't race at all - actually extended his overall championship lead from 5 points (to Raikkonen before the race) to 6 points (to Massa after the race) at Valencia. "We opted fairly early on to take the championship-strategic option of settling for second place," team boss Ron Dennis said. Over 30 seconds behind the primary MP4-23, Heikki Kovalainen finished fourth, ensuring that - with Raikkonen's failure to finish - McLaren actually also clawed back 3 points to Ferrari's narrowing lead in the constructors' championship.



Half a minute behind Hamilton, Robert Kubica secured the final podium spot, his fifth this season, surviving a fright when a plastic bag got trapped under the car, robbing him of steering at one point. Nick Heidfeld started eighth but dropped back a position and didn't score points. "This was one of the worst races ever for me," said the German, who struggled for pace. "His pace was simply too slow," technical boss Willy Rampf said.



Along with Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli was among the stars of the Valencia weekend, finishing fifth from seventh on the grid on Sunday. "This shows how good we are getting and how nice it is to race with a competitive car every weekend," he said. From 13th on the grid and with a heavy cold, Timo Glock climbed to P7 at the flag courtesy of an excellent start and a one-stop strategy. A further testimony to the reigning GP2 champion's input is the fact that, following his struggles on Friday, Trulli only began to resurrect his form after adopting the wholesale setup of Glock's car.



Vettel capped his excellent form throughout the Valencia weekend with a thoroughly-deserved three points for sixth place, although he was lucky to survive the first lap including a knock against Raikkonen's Ferrari. Albeit nearly 40 seconds further behind, Sebastien Bourdais - who for a long time carried front wing damage after a clash with Heidfeld - completed Toro Rosso's impressive weekend with P10.



More than a minute behind the winner, Nico Rosberg secured the final championship point on offer at Valencia -- the team's first since Silverstone. "It shows we are getting back on track," he said. Kazuki Nakajima was just 15th, however, after nearly stalling on the grid and then incurring the wrath of the local crowd by hitting the popular Spaniard Fernando Alonso. "There was a bit of a battle going on in front and I couldn't avoid him," said the Japanese, who had to pit for a new nose while Alonso retired with rear damage.



To the despair of his local supporters, crowd favourite Alonso retired from the second of his two home races this year after Williams' Nakajima crashed into the rear of his Renault. Nelson Piquet carried damage to the front of the sister R28 to 11th place. "It's a weekend to forget," said boss Flavio Briatore.



Beaten comprehensively by the 'junior' team Toro Rosso this weekend, boss Christian Horner admitted Valencia has been "disastrous" for Red Bull. "We've got a lot of analysis to do," said Mark Webber, who finished P12. David Coulthard, dead last at the chequer, was hit from behind at the start and later collided with a Force India as he tried to recover. "Sorry to them for that," he said after nursing his damaged RB4 home.



Amid perhaps the worst weekend performance of his long career, Honda opted to pull Rubens Barrichello's car out of parc ferme overnight - thus requiring him to start from pitlane - and change all his braking components. He finished 16th of the 17 runners at the chequer. Jenson Button has fared better all weekend but was nonetheless still lapped.



An eventful but fruitless race for Sutil, who as well as being involved in the Massa pitlane incident, then exited the race by crashing into the barriers. "Adrian was honest enough to admit he made a mistake," said technical boss Mike Gascoyne. Giancarlo Fisichella crossed the chequer 14th of the 17 finishers. "Our pace was good, it wasn't far off the others," he said.

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