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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 16:44 UK
Turkish Grand Prix
Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey, 9-11 May, 2008

By Andrew Benson

Lewis Hamilton looks on as Felipe Massa celebrates victory in the Turkish Grand Prix
Massa celebrates his third consecutive win in Turkey

Felipe Massa took a comfortable victory in the Turkish Grand Prix despite Lewis Hamilton's attempt to take the fight to Ferrari with an inventive strategy.

The McLaren driver passed Massa for the lead in the middle of the race but his three-stop strategy succeeded only in beating Kimi Raikkonen to second place.

Massa, on a conventional two-stop plan like his team-mate, had pace in hand to keep ahead of Hamilton.

But the Englishman did cut Raikkonen's championship lead to seven points.

And Hamilton, who is tied on points with Massa but behind him in the standings on win count-back, will be encouraged by his McLaren's new-found competitiveness.

"I'm thrilled to have come second from third [on the grid]," Hamilton said.

"We knew it was going to be tough to challenge the Ferraris. We were hoping to get some points and finishing in the top five was good.

"But the balance of the car was good and I kept pushing and pushing, so I'm happy."

Massa, who won for the third time in a row at Istanbul Park, was always out of reach of Hamilton, but even being able to compete with one of the Ferraris was a step forward for McLaren.

Hamilton was in aggressive mood from the start of the race, moving up a place from his third spot on the grid on the run to the first corner and tracking Massa until the McLaren's first stop on lap 16.

That was three laps earlier than Massa's first stop, but what betrayed McLaren's strategy was that the team put only a small amount of fuel in the car at that time.

The thinking appeared initially to be to enable the car to run lighter - and therefore faster - and try to pass Massa.

The team would have known the Brazilian was out of reach, but Raikkonen, having a rare off weekend, looked vulnerable if Hamilton could gain enough time.

But team boss Ron Dennis said after the race that McLaren were forced into a three-stop strategy because of concern about the Bridgestone tyres' durability on Hamilton's car.

Felipe Massa leads Lewis Hamilton during the Turkish Grand Prix
Massa had plenty in hand to fend off Hamilton's charge
Bridgestone said Hamilton's driving style put more load into his right front tyre than any of his rivals.

Whatever the reason for the strategy, the 23-year-old set about his task with vigour.

Hamilton was quickly on Massa's tail when the Ferrari rejoined the race and on lap 24 he pulled off a superb overtaking move at the end of the back straight.

Massa left the McLaren very little room on the inside as they braked for the tight left-hander, but Hamilton was not to be intimidated and he forced his way through.

Hamilton then set a series of fastest laps as he sought to build the advantage he needed to take on Raikkonen.

But after making his second stop on lap 31, Hamilton was 3.2 seconds behind the world champion.

He closed that to a second by lap 43, when Raikkonen made his final stop, and piled on the pressure for two more laps before making his own final stop.

He emerged from that ahead of Raikkonen, and fitted with the softer tyres that he had not been able to get to work on the McLaren all weekend.

But although the Ferrari closed in during the final stint, Hamilton was able to hold on to his position to the end of the race.

Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India flies over the back of Kazuki's Nakajima's Williams at the first corner of the Turkish Grand Prix
Fisichella's misjudgement caused a brief early safety car period
Raikkonen said his performance had been compromised by damage to his front wing, caused in a first-lap collision with Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen which gave the McLaren driver a puncture.

Ferrari opted not to change the wing because it would have taken too long, Raikkonen said.

Massa said: "That was just fantastic. It was a very difficult race, with Lewis pushing me hard, but I thought he was light (on fuel) at the start.

"Then when he pitted ahead of me, my team told me straight away he was on three stops. That was a help because he was very strong and I couldn't hold him.

"I knew I had a chance because three stops is optimistic, so it was difficult, but we made it."

The BMW Saubers put in their least competitive showing of the season and could manage only fourth and fifth places, with Robert Kubica ahead of Nick Heidfeld.

Behind them, Fernando Alonso was sixth for Renault, winning a battle with Red Bull's Mark Webber, who continued his impressively consistent season with his fourth points finish in a row.

Kovalainen, who had started from the front row for the first time in his career, saw his chances dashed when he suffered a puncture after his car was brushed by Raikkonen's on the first lap.

He pitted for a replacement and fought his way back impressively from last to eighth place, passing Williams's Nico Rosberg with eight laps to go, before a late stop for a final splash of fuel left him down in 12th.

A safety car was deployed soon after the start following an accident at the first corner.

Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India ran over the back of Kazuki Nakajima's Williams, taking both cars out of the race.

But it had little effect - the caution period lasted only until the third lap.

Official result of Turkish Grand Prix after 58 laps of Istanbul Park circuit:

1. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari one hour 26 minutes 49.451 seconds
2. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 3.779 secs
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +4.271
4. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber +21.945
5. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber +38.741
6. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault +53.724
7. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault +1:04.229
8. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota +1:11.406
9. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault +1:15.270
10. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota +1:16.344
11. Jenson Button (GB) Honda one lap behind
12. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes one lap
13. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota one lap
14. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda one lap
15. Nelson Piquet (Brz) Renault one lap
16. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari one lap
17. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari one lap
R Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 33 laps completed
R Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota one lap
R Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari no laps

Key: R = retired

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