Felipe Massa wins European GP ahead of Hamilton

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The Independent Online

Ferrari's Felipe Massa won the European Grand Prix for his fourth Formula One victory of the season, leading Sunday's race wire-to-wire to finish comfortably ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton in second.

Massa easily held onto his lead after starting from pole position and finished 5.6 seconds ahead of Hamilton's McLaren on the 5.4 kilometer (3.4 mile) street circuit Sunday. BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was third.

"I'm so glad and happy, especially after such a disaster in Hungary," said Massa, who missed a certain victory at the last race in Budapest after his engine gave out shortly before the finish.

However, race stewards were investigating an incident in the pit lane where Massa nearly collided with Force India's Adrian Sutil as the two were leaving after their second stop. Ferrari was fined €10,000 (US$14,800) for not releasing their driver safely, but Massa blamed the incident on his German rival and said he was confident that organizers would take no further action.

Hamilton kept the lead of the overall standings with 70 points, while Massa moved into second place with 64.

Defending champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari retired from the race on the 45th lap after smoke started coming from the back of his car while he trailed in sixth place. He now sits third in the standings with 57 points while Kubica is fourth with 55.

Local favorite and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Renault was also forced to retire after the first lap after Williams' Kazuki Nakajima crashed into him from behind and snapped off the rear wing of his car.

Massa also won in Bahrain, Turkey and France this season, and now adds the inaugural title at Valencia's new circuit, which drivers said was an unforgiving course with little room for mistakes.

"I think it is amazing," the Brazilian driver said. "To come here to a new track ... we did a fantastic job. It was really difficult to choose the right tires, especially in qualifying, but we did a perfect job in that and then making the pole position, winning the race and making the fast lap. I think it is nothing more we can ask for."

Hamilton, who also struggled with his car in Hungary, was pleased with getting the eight points.

"Can't complain about second place," he said. "We've had quite a strong weekend. Nice new circuit, got some good points, Heikki (Kovalainen) and the team got some good points. It was just overall a solid weekend for us."

Hamilton said he had to take pain killers before the race because of a sore neck, which he attributed to sleeping on a bad pillow.

In another pit lane incident, Raikkonen tried to pull out with his fuel hose still attached and ran into a team mechanic, but the man appeared to escape without serious injuries.

"We still have to work very hard because today we had other problems with Kimi, and another one in the garage, but our mechanic is fine," Massa said.