x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Massa left blown out by engine

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen celebrated a shock maiden win in Hungary after Felipe Massa suffered an engine failure.

McLaren's Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen celebrates on the podium after claiming his first win in Formula One.
McLaren's Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen celebrates on the podium after claiming his first win in Formula One.

Heikki Kovalainen claimed his maiden grand prix win as he triumphed in Hungary last night after Felipe Massa's engine blew with three laps to go. Massa's Ferrari had dominated the race, but the Brazilian was forced to stop on the main straight on lap 68 of the 70 lap event with smoke billowing out of the back of his car, handing the victory to Kovalainen. The Finn had run in third for much of the race, but moved up to second when teammate Lewis Hamilton suffered a puncture on lap 37, and then was in prime position to take advantage of Massa's misfortune. A delighted Kovalainen said: " I am very happy. We have been in a position to fight for a victory, but always something has gone wrong and hasn't functioned correctly. I tried to put pressure on Massa hoping he had would have a mechanical failure and it seemed to work. "The team went through difficult times but I kept pushing and I am extremely happy to score my first victory." The Toyota of Timo Glock was a surprise second, while the world champion Kimi Raikkonen battled to third place. Fernando Alonso was fourth for Renault, while Hamilton recovered from suffering a deflated right front tyre to finish fifth, extending his lead in the world championship to five points in the process. The race had been expected to be dominated by McLaren after they had been quickest in qualifying, with Hamilton and Kovalainen locking out the front row. But Massa made a majestic start, getting off the grid well to immediately pass Kovalainen, and then bravely out-brake Hamilton to pass him around the outside of the first corner. After being outpaced earlier in the weekend, Ferrari appeared to have the edge in race conditions as Massa pulled away by two to three tenths of a second a lap. He was four seconds ahead of Hamilton before the Briton suffered his tyre drama, dropping him out of contention. But just as he seemed set to take the championship lead Massa suffered mechanical problems. Glock achieved his first podium, while Raikkonen had a frustrating race, spending 51 laps stuck behind Alonso before passing him at the second pit-stops. The Finn said: "I think we could have done the race a little bit better but we were stuck behind Alonso. I was stuck behind him until the second stop so it was a bit late by that point." Alonso's teammate Nelson Piquet was sixth, ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota, with eighth being taken by the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica. The race also saw three pitlane fuel fires as the Honda of Rubens Barrichello, the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima and the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais all caught light during their pit-stops. While none of the incidents were serious or caused injury an investigation into the problem is likely to be made by the teams. @Email:gcaygill@thenational.ae