Raikkonen Dominates Turkish GP

Kimi Raikkonen claimed a dominant victory in the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix but his Championship challenge was dampened when title race leader Fernando Alonso snatched second on the penultimate lap

Raikkonen Dominates Turkish GP

Raikkonen proved a class act in the 30-degree heat at Turkey's new Istanbul Park circuit as he shook off the early challenge from his Renault rivals to cruise to a comfortable fifth win of the year.

Alonso, who has won six so far, looked set to lose four points with Juan Pablo Montoya easing home in second but the McLaren driver threw away a possible one-two finish for the team when he went off on the penultimate lap.

His mistakes, understood to be down to a flat-spotted tyre, not only cost McLaren their first one-two for more than five years but it also meant Raikkonen only closed the gap to Alonso by two points to 24.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella came home fourth for Renault while Briton Jenson Button surprised even himself when he claimed fifth place for BAR-Honda, his fifth successive points finish, having climbed up from 13th place on the grid.

Italian Jarno Trulli had an uneventful race and finished sixth for Toyota while Scot David Coulthard and Austrian Christian Klien put in a solid performance once again to claim the final points for Red Bull Racing.

Takuma Sato, who had his qualifying time annulled as punishment for an incident in qualifying, chose to make some strategy changes and start from the pits while World Champion Michael Schumacher lined up at the back of the grid.

Fisichella got away well and made it past pole sitter Raikkonen into the blind first corner with Alonso slotting in right behind the Finn in third, Montoya fourth and Trulli fifth.

Further down the grid Schumacher was lucky to avoid contact with debris from Felipe Massa's Sauber after the Brazilian went wide on the exit, clattered over the grass and returned to the track minus his front wing, forcing him to pit.

Alonso almost made it past Raikkonen for second in the early part of the opening lap but it the Finn then attacked Fisichella and went past at the end of the back straight when the Renault put a wheel on the grass.

Alonso was then called to pass Fisichella, who had said earlier in the weekend he was ready to help his teammate in his quest for the title and consequently put up no resistance at the end of the back straight on lap two.

That left Raikkonen ahead of Alonso with Fisichella in third holding off fourth-placed Montoya and Trulli in fifth with Nick Heidfeld sixth before he was forced to pit with a puncture on lap five.

Mark Webber then went off the track at turn three when his Williams also suffered a puncture on lap nine and he cruised slowly around the track to pit before returning right at the back of the field.

With 10 laps gone Michael Schumacher was up to tenth place but Alonso was hanging on to the tail of Raikkonen at the front with Fisichella and Montoya both dropping back from the lead duo.

Alonso stopped for fuel at the end of lap 13 then Schumacher and Webber were forced to pit on lap 14 when they collided as the World Champion Ferrari driver came up to lap the Williams backmarker.

Webber tried to go through the inside and lost his nosecone, which was replaced during his stop, while Schumacher spun and had his rear suspension checked in the pits, returned to the track for one lap then parked in the garage.

Button pushed hard to get past Alonso, which he finally managed on lap 20, then Montoya pitted at the end of lap 21 and had a minor delay when he was released from his pit with the fuel hose in and harmlessly knocked over a mechanic.

Webber's terrible race continued when he lost control of his Williams and left the track again on lap 22, this time at turn 12, and he came in at the end of that lap to park in the garage and retire.

Leader Raikkonen pitted on the same lap for his first fuel fill and came out with a 13.2-second lead over Montoya, who was just ahead of Alonso having made it past the Renault through the stops.

Massa's car was pushed into the garage when he pitted with a smoking engine at the end of lap 28 then Heidfeld had a big spin on lap 29 after Williams suffered another yet tyre failure.

Raikkonen maintained a comfortable gap over Montoya with the Renault pair of Alonso and Fisichella in third and fourth, Trulli fifth, Button sixth and Red Bull duo Coulthard and Klien completing the potential points scorers.

Schumacher returned to the track after repairs, 18 laps behind, then Alonso made his second stop at the end of lap 34, Montoya pitted at the end of lap 41 and Raikkonen completed the stops for the top three at the end of lap 45.

Schumacher finally retired on the leaders' lap 52 and with all the lead stops completed Raikkonen had a 20-second lead over Montoya with Alonso ten second further back in third and Fisichella fourth, a further 20 seconds adrift.

Button was the best of the rest in fifth having made it past Trulli's Toyota, his stated aim before the race began, during the second set of stops, but it was McLaren who were the class of the field.

Montoya spun at turn 12 just three laps from the end with a flat-spotted tyre to put McLaren's hearts in their mouths then he lost second place to Alonso on the penultimate lap when he went wide at turn eight.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Turkish Grand Prix Istanbul, Turkey; 0 laps; 0.000km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time  1. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1h24:34.454 2. Alonso Renault (M) + 18.609 3. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 19.635 4. Fisichella Renault (M) + 37.973 5. Button BAR-Honda (M) + 39.304 6. Trulli Toyota (M) + 55.420 7. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) + 1:09.296 8. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) + 1:11.623 9. Sato BAR-Honda (M) + 1:49.987
10. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 11. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) + 1 lap 12. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) + 1 lap 13. Doornbos Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 3 laps 14. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 15. Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) + 3 laps Fastest Lap: Montoya, 1:24.770 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 48 M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 31 Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 29 Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 27 Webber Williams-BMW (M) 20 World Championship Standing, Round 14: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 95 1. Renault 130 2. Raikkonen 71 2. McLaren-Mercedes 121 3. M.Schumacher 55 3. Ferrari 86 4. Montoya 40 4. Toyota 71 5. Trulli 39 5. Williams-BMW 52 6. Fisichella 35 6. Red Bull-Cosworth 27 7. R.Schumacher 32 7. BAR-Honda 24 8. Barrichello 31 8. Sauber-Petronas 14 9. Heidfeld 28 9. Jordan-Toyota 11 10. Webber 24 10. Minardi-Cosworth 7 11. Button 23 12. Coulthard 21 13. Massa 8 14. Wurz 6 15. Monteiro 6 16. Villeneuve 6 17. Karthikeyan 5 18. Klien 5 19. Albers 4 20. de la Rosa 4 21. Friesacher 3 22. Sato 1 23. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen
Author Will Gray
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