Tue, Aug 29, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Emotional Massa wins his first F1 event

AP , ISTANBUL

A safety car and untimely pit stop cost Michael Schumacher valuable seconds -- and eventually points -- at the Turkish Grand Prix, which could affect his season-long duel with Fernando Alonso.

While Ferrari's Felipe Massa easily won his first Formula One race, the duel behind him -- especially over the final 15 laps -- was between Alonso and Schumacher.

The appearance of the safety car after Vitantonio Liuzzi's car stopped on the 14th lap changed the complexion of the race. Massa was leading comfortably after starting from the pole at that point, and Schumacher was in second about six seconds ahead of Alonso.

The cars pitted for tires and fuel as pack moved closer behind the safety car.

Massa reached the pits first, forcing Schumacher to wait for his crew to finish fueling and working on Massa's car.

Alonso was able to pit without waiting and quickly returned to the track.

"We had a certain gap to Fernando and I was hoping that this was enough to stay in front," Schumacher said.

It wasn't.

"We were lucky with the safety car and overtook Michael there," Alonso said.

With four races to go, defending champion Alonso has 108 points, while the seven-time champion Schumacher has 96.

Alonso gained eight points for coming in second, while Schumacher took six for third.

The results could have easily been different.

Schumacher said that both Ferraris were quicker than the Alonso's Renault after going 1-2 in qualifying.

"If we can maintain that without having the maybe unfortunate situations of safety cars coming out at the wrong moment, we could both be in front," Schumacher said.

But Schumacher found himself behind Alonso after the 16th lap. After the second pit stops -- under the green light -- Schumacher closed on Alonso and challenged him by lap 43.

"Its true in the last 15 laps it was very close as we ran together and to finish in front by half a car length was enough to be second," Alonso said.

Schumacher spent the final portion of the 58-lap race looking for a way to pass Alonso.

There was none.

Schumacher had three chances to pass Alonso, but each time the Spaniard had enough speed to fend off the challenge.

On the final lap, Schumacher tried once more to pass but came up just short at the finish line, ending 0.081 of a second behind Alonso.

"Fernando had to protect his position and sometimes take a different line," Schumacher said.

On the final turn Schumacher tried again.

"You look for the opportunities. Obviously Fernando went very tight into the last corner to not leave any possibility there which is pretty fair," Schumacher said.

He ran out of track.

Meanwhile Massa choked back tears over his first Formula One victory.

"Being a Ferrari driver and winning the first race is something special for me," Massa said.

"It's like a dream come true. It's just amazing, just looking back at everything I did in my life to get here. I'm here. It's a fantastic day for me," he said.

Alonso, Schumacher and Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley gave Massa a royal ride on the victory podium, hoisting him on their shoulders.

"These guys know what I am talking about," Massa said.

"It was my day today -- and my weekend," he said.

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