Valencia saw it's first F1 Grand-Prix this Sunday and at the time of publishing, we still aren't sure of the winner after a pit error by Fillipe Massa on lap 37. The error saw him nearly pull out onto Adrian Sutil.
The pit system is electronic, with each mechanic pressing a "go" button after they have finished changing the tires or fueling up—when all mechanics have pressed the button, the traffic lights hanging from the garage go green and the driver reacts by pulling away.
Race Control said they will be investigating the "unsafe incident including car two (Massa)" after the race.
Ferrari's bad afternoon continued on lap 44 when Kimi Raikkonen set off prematurely from his pit stop, pulling the fuelling hose and fueling mechanic with him. Raikkonen did stop immediately—however, it was too late, and the back wheel of the Ferrari had hit the mechanic, causing him to be laid on the floor for a considerable amount of time before being stretchered to the circuit medical center.
Lap 1: After Nakajima clipped the rear end of Fernando Alonso, Alonso pits and is told to stay in the car whilst the rear wing is replaced. Unfortunatly, he is told there is no point as it would take too long to do, and Alonso's race is over.
Lap 8: David Coulthard makes a brave move to pass Adrian Sutil—unfortunately the two make contact and the Scot's Red Bull spins. He recovers and continues his race after having dropped to 18th place.
Lap 15: Ferrari make the first pit in the form of Fillipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton takes the lead momentarily.
Lap 17: Hamilton pits just two laps later and, of course, gives up P1, a clean 8.9s stop from the McLaren boys.
Lap 26: Being the only front-runner not to have pitted, Timo Glock was confirmed to be one stopping this afternoon.
Lap 31: Timo Glock makes his first and only stop of the race, a nice clean stop, 10.8s sees him fueled to the end.
Lap 37: Massa now has over a 10-second lead on Lewis Hamilton, and Hamilton isn't showing any signs of problems—McLaren just seemed to be running off pace for this race. Massa pits from the lead, take the required softer tires, fuels to the end, and gets out again in 8.5s, almost clashing with Sutil (see above for details).
Lap 39: Hamilton drops into the pit lane from P1. Fuelled to finish and taking the softer tires, a nice clean 7.1s stop.
Lap 41: Position three, Robert Kubica, pits and has a nice clean stop—he is in and out in 7.4s.
Lap 43: Adrian Sutil ran off and hit into the tire barrier, destroying the front end of the car—his race is over.
Lap 44: Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen pit together. It looks as though the Ferrari team are going to get Raikkonen away quicker, however, disaster hits when the fuel pump doesn't release and a mechanic is injured (see above for more). Kovalainen rejoins after a nice, typically McLaren, clean 7.6s stop.
Lap 46: Ferrari's nightmare continues and Raikkonen's race is over in a puff of smoke as his engine blows, very similar to the way Massa's did in Hungary. Two engine blows in two races—not looking good.
Result: Massa takes his fourth win of the season—however, the decision over whether he can be penalised for the unsafe pit incident is still pending. Hamilton seems happy with second, and he keeps P1 on the championship table.
Full driver reactions and news on Race Control's decision over Massa's pit stop will appear here shortly:
In the post-race press conference, Filipe Massa, told us how the pit error came about saying, "Well, because I stopped behind him in the pit stop and we leave together. When he was passing me by I was leaving the garage, so we were side-by-side. But I was the leader and he was lapping. It was quite narrow and the wall was getting narrower and narrower, so I didn’t want to take the risk." Massa believed Sutil was to blame and said, "I think it wasn’t very clever from his side as even if he went out in front of me he needed to let me by. It was a shame to fight with him in the pit lane as we were very close and I needed to back off and I lost a lot of time but fortunately the gap was enough."
Lewis Hamilton managed to keep his World Championship alive and scored a solid amount of points, when asked what he thought of the race and track in general, he replied, "This track is not that physical, it was just that it was hot. You don’t have enough water in the car really. It has just been a very hot weekend and as you can see we are in these big old suits. It is like driving in a sauna. It is quite a hectic one-and-half hour race, so I am pretty happy the way I got through."
The BMW Williams of Robert Kubica was playing tricks in the early stages of the race, when asked what the problem was, he told the press, "I saw a white plastic bag flying across the corner and I could not avoid it. Suddenly I couldn’t steer any more for two corners and it was extremely dangerous and I have never had it before. Fortunately when I approached a high speed corner it blew away but still my confidence for the next half a lap was not great. Fortunately it was only half a lap but I think I lost around three seconds."