McLaren finally fought back, but it wasn’t enough to unseat the top of the podium. A typical Massa win, Phil ran drama free, wire-to-wire to win the Turkish GP from pole. It also marked an impressive track record for Massa in Turkey. In his wake, Hamilton seemingly had the pace to bring the fight to Massa, however due to tire concerns, McLaren were forced to a 3 stop strategy. As we’ve a few times now, Lewis had a slight problem with tire preservation and degradation. I can’t entirely put the blame on the kid, as everyone had problems in some capacity with tires it seemed, save Ferrari. I will give him credit, he did manage to effectively use the 3 stop strategy and keep Kimi behind him to save P2. Meanwhile, Kimi had an awful start and Ferrari claims he lost dramatic aero for the race of the race with turn 1 contact. Despite that claim, he set fast lap and closed in on Hamilton, chasing him across the line. Turkey again was a 3 horse race, this time without a BMW though. Massa, Hamilton and Kimi held station for most of the race as the potential for drama fizzled out, as the differing tire strategies never really materialized into much on-track action.
As for the rest of the field, for the first time I am going to say BMW was the best of the rest. A rarity thus far in 2008, they didn’t have any impact on the race, though they quietly came home P4 and P5 collecting valuable points. Fernando deserves some credit too, as he drove the improved Renault home to P6 and some solid points, while Nelsinho once again languished. Piquet continued to struggle and make his father’s pre-season comments that he wouldn’t back down to Alonso even more comical. Webber and Rosberg finished out the points paying positions in undramatic fashion.
As F1 moves into Monaco, perhaps the concrete canyons and narrow roads of the street circuit can inject some extra excitement that was lacking in Turkey. Last year, McLaren ruled on the streets of Monte Carlo, and I expect Hammy to do well here. The low traction, slow corners are going to put a premium on throttle modulation and highlighting the lack of TC more so than any circuit they’ve been to yet. I expect McLaren to gain some momentum, as these slower circuits seem to suit the latest generations of the MP4’s well. So for the first time I will pick Lewis for P1. This is a true test of the F2008’s low speed capabilities, an area where they struggled with last year’s car. I also expect the mid-field runners to produce some interesting results, due to the tight confines and less emphasis on aero.