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F1 2008, Round 4 - Spain - Reliability troubles dominate the Circuit de Catalunya

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

This race was as highly anticipated as the start of the season, as for the first time, it seemed as though we weren’t sure who was going to be competitive. So far this season, it’s looked like it will be a Ferrari/McLaren dominated year, but this weekend mixed things up a little. The Free Practice sessions saw some of the back of the pack leading the times for large chunks of time, and although Ferrari were fastest overall, what was happening behind them was interesting.

Fernando Alonso qualified in second place, only a blink of an eye away from pole position. The speculation was rife whether Renault had really gained all that performance in the three week break, or if they were running Alonso’s car very light on fuel, just to look good in his home country.

When the race started, it was clear that although the Renault was fuelled lighter than the nearest rivals, Alonso’s second place on the grid wasn’t all down to luck. The Renault’s performance has clearly picked up as well.

Unfortunately for the Spanish crowd, the engine in the Renault couldn’t last for it’s second race weekend and gave up halfway through the race. Alonso was happy though, enjoying being competitive at last.

Elsewhere, there were a lot of other mechanical failures, and drivers coming together as they tried to overtake. The most high profile accident was for Heikki Kovalainen though, who’s tyre deflated at 150mph and sent him directly into the tyre barriers. It took the marshals a few minutes to extract the car from so far in the tyre wall, and Heikki was stretchered to the medical centre. He was later airlifted to hospital for checks, but appears to have escaped with a concussion and no broken bones. McLaren are hoping he will be cleared to race in Turkey.

Ferrari led the race from the start, with Massa overtaking Alonso to make it a red 1-2. This didn’t change throughout the race, despite a couple of safety car periods. Räikkönen led the way to a relatively easy victory, and the Ferrari still looks a dominant force, faster than any other car out there. The team is leading both championships now, having ousted BMW from the top of the constructors.

Hamilton, in third position, has greatly improved his drivers championship chances, but as they always say, there’s still plenty of racing left before we can crown our champion.