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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 April 2007, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Bahrain - 15 April, 2007
The Chequered Flag podcast



Result after 57 laps:

1 F Massa (Ferrari)

2 L Hamilton (McLaren)

3 K Raikkonen (Ferrari)

4 N Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)

5 F Alonso (McLaren)

6 R Kubica (BMW Sauber)

7 J Trulli (Toyota)

8 G Fisichella (Renault)

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

By Andrew Benson

This is building into a fascinating season. Three races, three different winners. A three-way points tie at the head of the championship between Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton, with Massa not far behind.

Unfortunately, there is now a month-long gap before the next race in Spain, where, to say the least, Alonso will not want this result to happen again.

The question is, can he do anything about it? Hamilton has looked at least a match for the world champion in two of the first three races of the season. One doesn't want to hype him up too much, but it's difficult not to when a rookie performs with such speed and maturity.

Lap 57: Massa does it - his first victory of the season. And Hamilton completes another stunning race to finish second, the first man in history to finish on the podium in his first three Grands Prix. Raikkonen is third ahead of Heidfeld and Alonso.

Lap 56: Alonso is pushing Heidfeld hard, but he does not look close enough to take fourth place on the final lap.

"Let's not forget how important this is for Felipe Massa, after a disappointing start to the season in Australia through no fault of his own and another in Malaysia partially due to his fault. It will give Kimi Raikkonen something to think about. Now we have a battle within McLaren and a battle within Ferrari."
Five Live summariser Maurice Hamilton

Lap 55: Hamilton is just 3.5secs behind with two laps to go and now will almost certainly have to settle for second.

Lap 54: Alonso is clearly faster than Heidfeld in front of him, but can not get closer than a second to the BMW Sauber because of the turbulence.

Lap 53: Hamilton edges closer again to Massa. But surely the Brazilian has enough of a margin - he is around four seconds in front with as many laps to go.

Lap 52: Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri is trailing oil smoke behind him on the racing line - he will not be popular with his fellow drivers.

"If the finishing positions stay like this, there will be a three-way tie at the top of the champioship between Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. And if Hamilton is second and Alonso fifth, what does that do to the pecking order in the McLaren team?"
Five Live commenator David Croft

Lap 50: Hamilton takes another 0.5secs out of Massa's lead and is now less than 5.5secs behind the Ferrari - and no longer under any pressure from Raikkonen.

Lap 49: Massa pegs Hamilton on that lap with his best lap since the pit stop.

"If Massa can keep that up, he'll be OK."
Five Live summariser Maurice Hamilton

Lap 48: Hamilton closes in to just six seconds behind Massa. Could he actually win this one?

Lap 47: Alonso is looking much better on this final set of tyres and is now homing in on the back of Heidfeld's BMW Sauber.

Lap 46: Hamilton is actually faster than Massa on that lap - and is more than two seconds clear of Raikkonen. Second place is looking there for the taking for Hamilton, and with it history for being the first man to finish on the podium in his first three Grands Prix.

"We're not sure about Kimi Raikkonen's engine. It's sounding a bit rough. There's nothing from the lap times, they are competitive enough, but we'll keep an eye on that for you."
Five Live summariser Maurice Hamilton

Lap 44: Hamilton stops. Can he get out in front of Raikkonen? Yes, he can - but only just. Hamilton now has 13 laps of high pressure to withstand for a second runners-up spot in a row.

Lap 43: Alonso makes his final stop and rejoins still behind Heidfeld's BMW.

Lap 42: Massa, temporarily in third place as the McLarens have not made their final stops yet, sets fastest lap as he seeks to put the lock on his first victory of the season.

A grim weekend for Red Bull ends with retirement for Mark Webber.

Lap 41: Raikkonen and Heidfeld both come in for their final stops.

"Anthony Davidson has come in again - that's banjaxed any hopes he might do well."
Five Live summariser Maurice Hamilton

Lap 40: Massa stops from the lead for his final stop.

Lap 39: It's like Groundhog Day for Raikkonen just a week after his frustrating race in Malaysia - right behind Hamilton, but unable to find a way by.

Lap 37: Hamilton's hopes of victory look all but over - he is now more than 10 seconds behind Massa and Raikkonen is right behind him. David Coulthard's impressive race comes to an end as he pulls into the pits from seventh place and straight into the garage after a burst of smoke from the back of his car.

Lap 36: Trulli passes Fisichella for ninth, and the Renault now has Rosberg's Williams right behind it. The action is hot in the midfield.

Lap 35: Takuma Sato's Super Aguri expires in a cloud of smoke down the pit straight. Team-mate Anthony Davidson is 13th and closing on Renault's Heikki Kovalainen.

Lap 33: "Is Hamilton getting his pace back now the fuel is burning off and the car getting lighter - he's half a second faster than Raikkonen on that lap. But he's still 9.5 secs behind Massa."
Five Live commentator David Croft

Lap 31: Heidfeld closes right in on Alonso down the pit straight, the two battle through the first three corners before Heidfeld brilliantly passes the world champion around the outside of turn four. It's a great move - but it surely means there is a disgruntled Spaniard in the cockpit of that struggling McLaren.

Lap 29: This is looking more and more like the first Ferrari one-two of the season. Massa's lead is edging towards 10 seconds and Raikkonen is taking more than 0.5secs a lap out of second-placed Hamilton. Meanwhile, Alonso - 3.4secs behind Raikkonen and lapping in the same pace as Hamilton - still has Heidfeld right behind him.

"Anthony Davidson makes his pit stop from sixth place - could he be on a one-stop strategy? I'm not going to talk about points for Super Aguri yet, though."
Five Live commentator David Croft

Lap 27: The two Red Bulls are fighting a battle for pride in 10th place, with David Coulthard speeding past Webber - who started 11 places ahead of him - and leaving the Australian in his wake.

Lap 26: Massa extends his lead to more than six seconds and suddenly Hamilton has to worry more about the red car behind him, with Raikkonen only four seconds adrift in third place and lapping nearly a second faster.

Lap 24: Massa is flying on his new tyres - he is now more than four seconds clear of Hamilton, who shadowed him throughout the first stint.

Meanwhile, the struggling Alonso is now coming under pressure from Heidfeld - is there something wrong with his McLaren?

Lap 23: Raikkonen and Heidfeld rejoin. Has Raikkonen done enough to leapfrog Alonso? Yes - he takes third place.

Lap 22: Alonso comes in for his first stop - so only three laps' extra fuel for the world champion, which is not enough to explain the gap in pace between the two men so far in the race. Hamilton appears to have his measure this weekend, which is quite some achievement in only his third race.

Lap 20: Massa stops from the lead and rejoins after 8.5 seconds. He retains the de facto lead from Hamilton, by slotting in right behind Kubica.

Lap 19: The McLaren pit crew are out in the pit lane - it must be for Hamilton. It is, and he is out after 9.9 seconds. He rejoins behind Kubica in sixth place. Fisichella also stops from seventh place.

Rosberg's eventful race continues - he makes a move on Kovalainen at the last corner and turns in on him. The two collide and both run off the track.They rejoin with Rosberg now in eighth place.

Lap 17: Another fastest lap for Hamilton in second place just a second behind leader Massa - that first victory is looking a real possibility.

Coulthard, Wurz and Schumacher make their first pit stops.

Lap 15: Hamilton and Massa are going at it hammer and tongs at the front - it is the McLaren driver's turn to set fastest lap and the two are now eight seconds clear of Alonso.

Trulli passes Kovalainen for ninth place and the Finn is now under pressure from Coulthard's Red Bull, which is up from 21st place on the grid.

Lap 14: Despite being obviously much quicker, Raikkonen just cannot get close enough to have a stab at Alonso - the aerodynamic appendages that have sprouted all over the cars in the last two years make it harder than ever to follow a car closely.

Lap 13: Massa responds to Hamilton's threat with fastest lap to take his lead back over a second as Alonso and Raikkonen drop a further second behind.

Lap 12: Hamilton is eating slowly into Massa's lead - he is now 0.897secs behind, with Alonso holding up Raikkonen a further five seconds adrift.

Now Wurz has problems with Coulthard - the two are in a five-car battle for ninth place, headed by Kovalainen's Renault.

Lap 10: Hamilton closes on Massa by a snip, and Alonso drops back a further 0.5secs.

The battle for 10th gets even hotter - Wurz has got past Rosberg again and both pressure Trulli. The two Williams battle side by side in turn four and Rosberg ends up off the track - the German rejoins in 13th behind David Coulthard's flying Red Bull, but has dirt all over his tyres.

Lap nine: Massa and Hamilton are making a small break at the front, with Alonso appearing to hold up Raikkonen.

"Alonso, thinking he wasn't going to beat Hamilton in qualifying anyway, may be heavy with fuel, hoping to get an advantage on strategy."
Five Live summariser Maurice Hamilton

Lap eight: There's little to choose between the top four, and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld is holding on well.

Lap seven: Trulli, Rosberg and Wurz are having a humdinger over 10th place. Rosberg passes Wurz for 11th down the pit straight and sets about Trulli, but the Italian Toyota driver holds on.

Lap six: Raikkonen is pressing Alonso hard for third place.

Lap five: A worrying-looking blue haze is coming intermittently from the back of Hamilton's car. Raikkonen looks blisteringly quick - he is fastest by half a second on that lap.

Lap four: Restart - Hamilton takes a look down the inside of the first corner with a perfect slipstream, but is not close enough to pass. Alonso is right behind Hamilton.

Lap three: The safety car will pull in at the end of this lap.

Lap two: Renault's Heikki Kovalainen made a good start to leap up from 12th on the grid to ninth at the end of the first lap. Safety car still out - Liuzzi makes a pit stop.

"The battle between Hamilton and Massa at the first corner must have caused Raikkonen to back off because Alonso took advantage to snatch third place."
Five Live analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap one: After a bit of jockeying for position, Hamilton settles into second place behind Massa. Raikkonen and Alonso go through the first two corners side by side and the world champion comes out in front in third place.

Further back, Jenson Button spins after contact from David Coulthard and Scott Speed is hit from behind by a Spyker in turn four. Both are out of the race and the safety car is deployed.

Behind the top four, the order of the rest of the top eight has stayed the same, with Heidfeld leading BMW Sauber team-mate Kubica and Fisichella's Renault ahead of Webber's Red Bull.

1230: The cars head off on the formation lap.

Pre-race build-up

"We arrived here in Bahrain thinking Lewis Hamilton could make just a small slice of F1 history by being the first driver to be on the podium in his first three races - the stakes have risen a bit now. He could be the youngest Briton to win a Grand Prix."
Five Live commentator David Croft

"This is proper desert weather - sun and sand and lots of wind."
Five Live reporter Holly Samos

1215: Massa, normally cool and approachable before the start of a race, is waving away TV interviewers looking to snatch a last word on the grid. The Ferrari driver, aware he has not made the most of his first two races, clearly means to make this one count.

1201: Pole man Felipe Massa leaves the pit lane in his Ferrari. The Brazilian has promised to be "more aggressive" with Lewis Hamilton at the start here after being humbled by the English rookie in Malaysia last time out.

1200: The pit lane opens and the cars start to leave their garages to form up on the grid under a brilliant blue sky.

The high wind will make things even tricker than usual for the drivers - it will blow dust on to the track, as well as making the cars behave unpredictably turning into corners as the wind affects their aerodynamics.

1130: With an hour to go before the start of the race, the weather is hot, dry and windy in the Bahraini desert - will that be a concern for the Ferraris, whose pace in Malaysia last Sunday was restricted by problems with engine cooling?

Lewis Hamilton is seeking to make history as the first man to finish on the podium in his first three Grands Prix as he takes to the grid in Bahrain.

But the McLaren prodigy could go one better than that - he looks a strong contender for victory after qualifying second behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

The Brazilian, though, will be equally determined to win after a disappointing start to the season, which included him finishing fifth in Malaysia last weekend after starting from pole.

It will be easy for neither man, however, with their team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, the winners of the first two races of the season, starting right behind them on the second row.

Hamilton's team-mate Alonso has got his bid for a third consecutive world title off to a flying start with second behind Raikkonen in Australia before winning in Malaysia.

The Spaniard leads the championship from Raikkonen by two points after the Finn finished third in Malaysia behind Hamilton, who is a further two points adrift in the title race.

The race is due to start at 1230 BST.

SEE ALSO
Bahrain GP photos
15 Apr 07 |  Motorsport
Massa pips Hamilton to claim pole
14 Apr 07 |  Formula One


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