Ferrari's Felipe Massa jump-started his struggling Formula One campaign Sunday by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix for his first victory of the season.
Massa moved ahead of pole-sitter Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber at the start and then held off teammate and new overall leader Kimi Raikkonen to win by 3.339 seconds.
Kubica, who was second at the Malaysian GP two weeks ago, finished third ahead of teammate Nick Heidfeld as BMW Sauber filled out the second row.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, who had the day's fastest lap, finished where he started in fifth while teammate Lewis Hamilton was 13th after a poor start from fourth on the grid.
Massa's sixth career win put him into the championship hunt with 10 points.
"It was a sensational day," Massa said. "We had a good start. The race was pretty difficult because I didn't want to make any mistakes so I didn't push the car hard, I just wanted to bring it home."
World champion Raikkonen, who collected his 50th podium, leads with 19 points, three more than Heidfeld. Hamilton, Kovalainen and Kubica all have 14 points.
"Of course I want to win the race but I did all I could do," Raikkonen said. "Second is a good place too."
Toyota's Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber of Red Bull and Nico Rosberg of Williams filled out the top eight to collect the remaining points. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Renault finished outside the points in 10th behind Toyota's Timo Glock.
Massa led a subdued celebration with a couple of fist pumps atop his car before the traditional champagne ceremony.
"For sure it wasn't very easy weeks, but that's life," said Massa, who retired from the opening two races for zero points coming into Bahrain. "You always have some bad days in your life and I had some bad days in my first two races."
Massa had dominated practice at the Bahrain International Circuit but his qualifying session left him second at the start.
But the Ferrari car's pace was never in doubt through the weekend.
"We're leading the championship which is the main thing and we have the speed when we get everything right," Raikkonen said. "The car was pretty perfect all weekend."
Massa overtook Kubica immediately for the lead and Raikkonen slid into third after Hamilton was slow off the start. Kovalainen moved outside to take teammate Hamilton's place on the grid.
Oil on the track made the start difficult for drivers with Kubica's wheel spin leaving him playing catchup right away and facing some debris around the first turn. Raikkonen didn't take long to overtake Kubica, passing the Pole on the outside at the second lap. Kubica said he also had a punctured tire.
"I feel good, if we didn't have these problems on the second lap then maybe we fight with Kimi, you never know," Kubica said. "We still finished third."
Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel was out by the fourth turn after getting hit from behind.
Hamilton, stuck in 10th behind Fernando Alonso, tried to get past his old teammate but instead went up over the back of the Spaniard's Renault to lose his front wing. Hamilton pitted for a new front nose and a change of tires. He would trail Massa by 50 seconds by the 22nd lap.
Ferrari was running 1-2 and Heidfeld put BMW Sauber 3-4 after going past Kovalainen from the inside.
The increasing wind made driving difficult at the slick desert track, as a rule change has barred traction control this season.
Honda's Jenson Button and David Coulthard of Red Bull were lapped by Massa after tangling up when Button attempted to cut through the inside.
Massa maintained a four-second lead over his teammate past the halfway mark of the 57-lap race.
Nelson Piquet Jr. retired after 40 laps alongside Button and Vettel with a gearbox problem.
Kubica moved temporarily into first again after 40 laps when Massa pitted for the second time, but the Polish driver was in the pit lane himself at the next chance to lose the lead.
All teams employed a two-stop pit strategy changing from soft tires to medium.
BMW Sauber took the constructors' championship lead with 30 points. Ferrari has 29 and McLaren has 28.Reuse content