European Grand Prix: Lap by lap report

The 2008 European Grand Prix sees Formula 1 arrive in Valencia for the sport’s first ever street race. The Valencia Street Circuit is based around the city’s port area and includes some roads specially designed for racing.

The track itself is 5.4km (3.4 miles) long and features 25 turns – 11 right-handers and 14 left-handers. The drivers will cover 57 laps of the track during the race with a race distance of 310km (194 miles).

Barrichello and Sutil are both starting from the pit-lane having made changes to their gearboxes so just 18 cars will start from the grid. It’s the fourth pole of the year for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa as he lines up alongside Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. Teams will be using the super-soft and soft compound tyres this weekend.
Conditions are looking good – hot and dry with no sign of rain.

With a Ferrari and a McLaren on the front row of the grid, the 2008 European Grand Prix looks set to be an exciting one.

Formation Lap – Massa leads the field away. Most drivers look to be starting the race on the harder compound tyre. Nico Rosberg appears to be one of the only drivers to be starting on the softer of the two compounds.

Lap 1 – It’s a poor start for Hamilton who immediately comes under pressure from Kubica however the McLaren driver manages to keep his place. Massa is cleanly away and leading. The first lap sees a lot of barging and place changing – current top eight are Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Trulli, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Glock. Alonso looks to be moving very slowly.

Lap 2 – Kazuki Nakajima pits. A replay shows Nakajima has smacked the rear of Alonso, losing his nose-cone and ripping the rear wing off Alonso. Alonso now pits and is wheeled back into his garage. Mechanics frantically work on the back of the car as they try to mend his rear wing.

Lap 3 – Hamilton sets the new fastest lap as he chases Massa. The Ferrari man currently has a 1.4 second gap at the front. Massa responds by setting an even faster lap.

Lap 4 – Alonso is out of his car. Coulthard slides past Nelson Piquet for P16. Massa’s lead is now up to 2.2 seconds.

Lap 7 – Coulthard tries to make a pass on Sutil up the inside. Sutil turns in and hits Coulthard who spins but is able to continue.

Lap 9 – BMW mechanics look ready with a new nose cone. Robert Kubica has radioed to his team that he has a problem with his car – he is now over 8 seconds behind Hamilton and just one second ahead of Kovalainen.

Lap 10 – Bourdais’ front wing looks to have had some sort of failure – it is broken in the middle. Kubica looks to be holding up the drivers behind him – Raikkonen is now all over the back of Kovalainen and he is being caught by Sebastien Vettel.

Lap 11 – Barrichello runs wide allowing Coulthard to pass. Massa is now 4.2 seconds ahead of second placed man, Hamilton.

Lap 12 – Sutil is having a good race. He has overtaken his team-mate and is now running in P14.

Lap 13 – Kubica is now pulling away from the two Finnish drivers . Raikkonen is paying the price for a poor qualifying performance as he is almost certainly quicker than Kovalainen in front of him.

Lap 14 – Coulthard pits from P17.

Lap 15 – Massa pits from the lead. Hamilton is now leading the race. Massa rejoins just in front of his team-mate. Surely he will let Raikkonen, who has the lighter car, through?

Lap 16 – Massa is still in front of Raikkonen. Hamilton’s lead over Kubica is now over 13 seconds as the British driver puts in the quickest lap of the race with a 1:38.884.

Lap 17 – Hamilton pits from the lead. He stays on the harder tyre. He rejoins just behind Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel pits and rejoins in P9.

Lap 18 – Kubica pits as does Raikkonen. The BMW mechanics pull a piece of cloth from the front wing of Kubica’s car. Bourdais pits. Kubica and Raikkonen both stay on the harder compound tyre. Raikkonen rejoins in P9, Kubica in P6.

Lap 19 – Trulli pits from P4. He also opts to stay on the harder tyre. Trulli rejoins just behind Kimi Raikkonen. Sutil pits.

Lap 20 – Kovalainen pits from the lead. Rosberg also pits. Kovalainen rejoins just in front of Heidfeld. The top six are currently Massa, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Kubica, Heidfeld and Glock, with the latter two cars yet to make their first pit stops.

Lap 22 – Heidfeld pits from P5. He stays on the harder tyre and rejoins in P11.

Lap 24 – Massa’s lead at the front is now up to 5.1 seconds. Kubica is in third, over 13 seconds behind the McLaren, with Kovalainen a further 3.5 seconds behind. Glock, who has yet to stop, is a further 4.3 seconds behind with Raikkonen 3.8 seconds behind the Toyota.

Lap 27 – Piquet looks to have some damage to the front wing on his car.

Lap 29 – Webber pits from P10 and overshoots his pit marker causing one of his mechanics to leap backwards. Luckily no real harm appears to have been done. Button also pits.

Lap 30 – Glock pits. He takes on a set of the softer tyres, as expected.

Lap 31 – Barrichello and Nakajima pit. Piquet is now the only driver who hasn’t made a pit-stop.

Lap 32 – Coulthard makes his second pit-stop.

Lap 34 – Massa puts in the quickest lap of the race so far with a 1:38.840. He is now nearly 9 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 36 – Glock is losing ground to Rosberg in his heavy Toyota with super-soft tyres.

Lap 37 – Massa and Sutil pit. Massa is released into the path of the Force India. The two nearly touch before Massa backs off. Sutil obeys the blue flags when he gets to the track and allows Massa through. Will Massa/Ferrari be penalised? Valencia is unusual in that the pit-lane is only wide enough for one car – this is a risk as if a car breaks down in the pit-lane, anyone else behind will not be able to get through.

Lap 38 – Bourdais makes his second stop. Race control are investigating an unsafe release by car 2 (Massa).

Lap 39 – Hamilton pits from the lead. He rejoins in P2. Vettel pits. He rejoins in P7.

Lap 40 – Kubica pits from P3. He rejoins in P6.

Lap 41 – Trulli makes his second stop, as does Heidfeld. Trulli rejoins in P6.

Lap 42 – Sutil has crashed into the wall, damaging the front right of his car. Stewards have announced that Massa’s pit-stop will be investigated after the race.

Lap 43 – Raikkonen and Kovalainen pit together. Raikkonen’s terrible weekend continues – Raikkonen attempts to leave his pit box before the refuelling has finished and pulls over the refuelling mechanic. He rejoins in P6. The Ferrari mechanic is currently being attended to by Toyota’s doctor and is stretchered away.

Lap 46 – Raikkonen’s race gets even worse as it appears he has an engine failure and has to retire from the race.

Lap 53 – Nakajima passes Barrichello for P15.

Final Lap – Massa wins his fourth race of the season after a difficult race for the team. Hamilton is second, followed by Kubica, Kovalainen, Trulli, Vettel, Glock and Rosberg. The race ends with a question mark though – what penalty will the race winner get from the race stewards for the pit-stop incident, if any?

Massa is now six points behind Hamilton in the drivers’ championship with 64 points. Raikkonen is in fourth with 57, and Kubica is fourth with 55.

McLaren make up some ground on Ferrari in the constructors’ championship – Ferrari have 121 points, and McLaren have 113.

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