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Massa fined after Valencia victory

August 25, 2008 15:33 IST

Felipe Massa [Images] and Lewis Hamilton [Images] each had their own reasons to feel relieved on Sunday after finishing first and second in a processional European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Massa's win on the streets of Valencia wiped away the Ferrari [Images] driver's disappointment at retiring from the Hungarian Grand Prix three weeks earlier with a blown engine while leading with three laps remaining.

The Brazilian, who drove from pole position to chequered flag in masterful fashion, climbed the podium with the race outcome still uncertain pending a stewards' enquiry.

In the end he escaped with a 10,000 euro ($14,870) fine, with stewards deciding that while his release from his second pitstop had been unsafe there was no sporting advantage gained.

McLaren's Hamilton, now six points clear of Massa in the drivers' standings, was happy to have limited the damage after flu symptoms and a painful neck had made the 23-year-old Briton's participation doubtful.

The win catapulted Massa back to second place in the championship, ahead of team mate and world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] who retired in the closing stages with another spectacular engine failure.

Hamilton now leads with 70 points to Massa's 64 and Raikkonen's 57.

"I am so glad, and so happy, to be able to be here like this after such a bad result in Hungary," said Massa, who finished 5.6 seconds ahead of Hamilton for his fourth win of the season.

"The car was great, especially in the second stint, and the team were great, too. To take pole position, to win the race and to have the fastest lap - you cannot ask for more after such a result in Budapest."

Ferrari stayed top of the constructors' standings with 121 points to McLaren's 113 and BMW [Images] Sauber's 96.


Hamilton, who has also won four races, was relieved to have put a "miserable weekend" behind him.

"I have had flu symptoms and a fever nearly every day. I had low energy and I had problems with spasms in my neck," he said. "This led to me almost not racing this weekend.

"Pedro [de la Rosa, the team's test and reserve driver] was on standby. But I managed to get through it even though it was tough."

Poland's Robert Kubica took third place for BMW Sauber despite a steering imbalance caused by a plastic bag blowing across the track and becoming wedged underneath his car during the early laps.

"I felt like I couldn't drive it, I lost the steering a lot for two corners before it came back and I lost some confidence in the car," he said. "So I am glad to be third, it is a good result for the team."

Raikkonen, without a win since the Spanish Grand Prix in April, bungled his second pitstop and injured a mechanic when he set off before the fuel nozzle had been removed. That incident was also the subject of a stewards' inquiry.

The Ferrari pitstops aside, the first Grand Prix staged in Valencia proved a straightforward contest with the top three finishing as they started.

Raikkonen's retirement, with black smoke billowing across the pit straight 12 laps from the finish, again highlighted the fragility of Ferrari's reliability with six races remaining.

"It is an issue for us because we have had some problems in the first race, in the last one and in this one," said Massa.

McLaren had little to worry in that respect, with Hungarian GP winner Heikki Kovalainen [Images] finishing fourth ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Germany's [Images] Sebastian Vettel for Toro Rosso.

Germany's Timo Glock was seventh for Toyota while compatriot Nico Rosberg took the final point for Williams.

Fernando Alonso [Images] suffered the biggest disappointment, with Spain's double world champion forced to retire after the opening lap when his Renault was hit by Kazuki Nakajima's Williams.

"I wanted to carry on for the fans, but the damage was too bad," he said.

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