Raikkonen Takes Dominant Win in Spain

Kimi Raikkonen led from start to finish to secure his and McLaren's first victory of the season in the Spanish Grand Prix as home hope Fernando Alonso failed to shine in front of a sell-out crowd

Raikkonen Takes Dominant Win in Spain

Raikkonen, who had not won since the Belgian Grand Prix last August, started from pole position and never looked back as McLaren finally lived up to their massive pre-season potential.

Alonso, who had won the last three races, was denied the one victory he so desperately wanted after struggling with the pace of his Renault car in front of a fanatical flag-waving following in Barcelona.

The Circuit de Catalunya was a sea of blue and yellow but the atmosphere failed to inspire the Renault driver and he had to settle for an out-classed second.

Raikkonen's victory ended Renault's run of success, which had seen them win all four previous races, and proved they could step up to the title challenge after Ferrari continued to struggle.

It was another disappointment for the World Champions with their only real hope of a podium being deflated by two flat tyres halfway through the race that ultimately forced Michael Schumacher's retirement.

Rubens Barrichello, who started from the back after changing his engine, fared little better and finished outside the points in ninth to end another dissatisfying weekend for the men from Maranello.

But for Toyota it was another day of success as Jarno Trulli secured his third podium of the season for the team when he finished third, just ahead of teammate Ralf Schumacher.

Giancarlo Fisichella overcame troubles to finish fifth after passing Mark Webber, who started from second on the grid in his Williams, in the closing stages.

Webber failed to stick with the lead pace and had to settle for sixth place while McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya, who had an eventful return from injury, and David Coulthard, of Red Bull Racing, secured the final two points positions.

Raikkonen made a clean get-away from pole position to shoot into the lead at the first corner and Alonso, starting on the clean line from third, passed Webber to claim second spot.

It was double start success for the Schumacher brothers as Ralf also made it past Webber to claim third and Michael, starting from eighth, found a way past seventh-placed Montoya.

Nick Heidfeld and Barrichello, both starting from the back, narrowly escaped a collision when both Minardi cars stalled on the grid with a software problem and the safety car was immediately out to slow the field.

Alonso was slow at the restart when the safety car peeled at the end of lap two but Montoya was a winner when he got a run on Schumacher in the last corner and made back his seventh place.

Raikkonen set the fastest lap on lap three to extend a two-second lead over Alonso while Ralf Schumacher was a similar distance behind the Renault driver in third.

Heidfeld had already worked his way up to 12th place, with Barrichello in 14th, while Minardi were able to get both their relatively un-tested PS05 machines back on track but already two laps down.

Montoya spun on the eighth lap but retained his seventh place while teammate Raikkonen continued to push hard at the front and developed a five second lead over Alonso by lap 10.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, who was elevated to a points-scoring eighth on his debut at the last race with the disqualification of BAR-Honda, was not so happy this time as he retired his Red Bull early.

He spun out of the race at turn seven on lap 11 and Patrick Friesacher soon followed him when he spun his Minardi into the gravel and out of the race on the same lap.

Webber was the first lead driver to stop when he pitted at the end of lap 19, confirming that he ran light to gain grid position in Sunday's qualifying session.

Raikkonen continued to ease out a lead lap by lap and by lap 20 he was around 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Alonso with third-placed Ralf Schumacher pressuring behind.

Alonso was clearly struggling for pace, lapping two seconds per lap slower than Raikkonen at times, while fourth-placed Trulli was also closing on the pair scrapping for second.

Ralf Schumacher was the second man to pit, six laps later than Webber, on lap 24 and race leader Raikkonen shot in on the next lap after a very strong opening stint.

Raikkonen held onto the lead after his stop as he came out just ahead of second-placed Alonso, who still had to make his stop and came in on the next lap.

During that lap Trulli made it past teammate Ralf Schumacher to gain a place while Fisichella continued to push on a long first stint before pitting on lap 29.

Fisichella's tactics allowed him to come out ahead of Alonso and Michael Schumacher used a similar plan to try and climb up the order, setting several fastest laps before his stop.

Montoya, suffering a disastrous race on his return from injury, pitted twice during the first set of stops and lost around half a minute after an apparent problem with the fuel rig.

Schumacher, now on very low fuel, was setting laps three seconds faster than leader Raikkonen as he mimicked his strategy from the last race at San Marino and finally pitted on lap 32.

This time, however, it did not move him very far up the order and with all the stops completed Raikkonen had a 25-second lead over Fisichella with Alonso 3.2 seconds further back in third.

Michael Schumacher made it up to fourth from eighth, 7.7 seconds behind Alonso, with Toyota pair Trulli and Ralf Schumacher fifth and sixth and Webber dropping all the way down to seventh.

Fisichella, who seems consistently hit by bad luck this season, peeled into the pits again on lap 40 for a new front wing to throw away a possible second place finish and drop down to 13th.

The gap at the front stabalised to just under 30 seconds between Raikkonen and Alonso in the second stint with Schumacher around 10 seconds further back and not catching.

Schumacher pitted from fourth place to change a rear tyre after suffering a puncture and came out just behind Raikkonen, who put the German a lap down as he also lapped his own teammate Montoya.

Schumacher then went off on turn one with another problem, a front left tyre deflation, and dragged dust back onto the track as he returned, his podium hopes shattered.

The World Champion gave up on lap 48 with a suspected failed suspension, having had to drive his car around the whole circuit with the flat tyre, and pulled into the pits to retire.

Raikkonen pitted for a second time on lap 49 and his team produced a smooth performance to get him out with still a comfortable advantage over second-placed Alonso, who stopped on the same lap.

Alonso came out just in front of Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, who were both still to pit, and the two Toyota cars battled hard for the final podium place.

Ralf Schumacher stopped on lap 51, the same lap as Coulthard, who had been scrapping with Sauber driver Felipe Massa once again, while Massa's teammate Jacques Villeneuve retired on the same lap.

Fisichella made it past Webber into turn one on lap 64 then flew away from the Williams while Massa's hope of fighting for a point were ruined with a puncture on the same lap.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain;
66 laps; 305.256km;
Weather: Sunny.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time        
 1.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes (M)  1h27:16.830
 2.  Alonso        Renault          (M)  +    27.652
 3.  Trulli        Toyota           (M)  +    45.947
 4.  R.Schumacher  Toyota           (M)  +    46.719
 5.  Fisichella    Renault          (M)  +    57.936
 6.  Webber        Williams-BMW     (M)  +  1:08.542
 7.  Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes (M)  +     1 lap
 8.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth(M)  +     1 lap
 9.  Barrichello   Ferrari          (B)  +     1 lap
10.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW     (M)  +     1 lap
11.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +    3 laps
12.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +    3 laps
13.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +    3 laps

Fastest Lap: Fisichella, 1:15.641

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                  On Lap
Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 51 M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 46 Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 19 Friesacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 11 Liuzzi Red Bull-Cosworth(M) 9 World Championship Standing, Round 5: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 44 1. Renault 58 2. Trulli 26 2. Toyota 40 3. Raikkonen 17 3. McLaren-Mercedes 37 4. Fisichella 14 4. Williams-BMW 21 5. R.Schumacher 14 5. Ferrari 18 6. Webber 12 6. Red Bull-Cosworth 14 7. Coulthard 10 7. Sauber-Petronas 7 8. Montoya 10 9. M.Schumacher 10 10. Heidfeld 9 11. Barrichello 8 12. Wurz 6 13. Villeneuve 5 14. de la Rosa 4 15. Klien 3 16. Massa 2 17. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial
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