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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 18:28 UK
Turkish Grand Prix
Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey, 9-11 May, 2008



Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton celebrate on the Turkish Grand Prix podium
Hamilton was able to take the fight to the Ferraris in Turkey

Lewis Hamilton believes he has revived his title challenge with a combative performance in the Turkish Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver said his second place behind Felipe Massa proved his team can now challenge Ferrari, who had dominated the previous three races.

"I am so thrilled with the result and I think this is the best race ever for me," said Hamilton, who cut Kimi Raikkonen's lead to seven points.

"I really think we have closed the gap to Ferrari."

The Englishman is tied on points with Massa heading into the Monaco Grand Prix - his favourite track - in two weeks' time.

"I am so excited about the next race in Monaco and just can't wait," the 23-year-old said.

606: DEBATE
The tight and twisty street circuit is expected to play to the strengths of the McLaren car - the team dominated the event in the Mediterranean principality last year.

In Turkey on Sunday, Hamilton was forced to adopt an unconventional three-stop strategy because his driving style was putting unusual loads on his right front tyre, raising fears it might fail.

But he handled the disadvantage well, holding the lead for 16 laps in the middle of the race following a brave overtaking move on Massa.

Out of sync on pit stops with the Ferrari drivers, Hamilton managed to rejoin from his final stop ahead of Raikkonen and hold the world champion off until the end.

"It doesn't particularly matter whether you win or not. It's whether you drive 100%, it's whether you extract the most out of the car," Hamilton said.

"It's one of those where you end the race and you ask yourself and the team: 'Could we have done a better job?' And I strongly feel we couldn't.

Felipe Massa leads Lewis Hamilton during the Turkish Grand Prix
Hamilton was able to take the fight to the Ferraris in Turkey

"Before the race our prediction was that I would finish fifth, so second is such a bonus."

Hamilton had the same problem with tyres in Turkey last year.

Tyre supplier Bridgestone said Hamilton's driving style was putting unique loads on his right front tyre through the long, demanding left-hander at Turn Eight.

Bridgestone advised McLaren on how long they felt the tyre was safe for Hamilton to drive on and the team decided he should make an extra stop as a precaution.

Hamilton admitted that the tyres were a concern during the race.

"It was on my mind at some stages," he said.

"There were times when I felt vibrations and I wasn't sure whether it was the tyre or a flat spot I had picked up earlier on.

"I was always checking my tyre on the exit of turn eight because last year coming out of there, my tyre exploded.

"I made sure I kept an eye on that so I could report to the team as soon as possible should there be anything and possibly come in.

"There's nothing worse than having a tyre blow out at 200mph, so we tried to avoid that. It was all down to safety.

"They (the team) were worried. Obviously, we didn't want to have another incident like the last race here.

The next two races last year were not so strong for us

Kimi Raikkonen
"Unfortunately, it put us on the back foot. Without a three-stop, we might have had a better chance of winning the race."

Hamilton chose to qualify on the harder - and theoretically slower - of the two available types of tyre, and could manage only third on the grid behind Massa and his McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.

And he used that tyre for three of his four stints in the race - unlike both Ferraris and Kovalainen, who all used the softer tyre for the majority of the Grand Prix.

"I was not happy with my performance in qualifying and perhaps if I had managed to get the car on pole I could have won.

"However, we knew that we would have to use a three-stop strategy as a precaution."

Massa said his win had put him "right in there in the [title] fight".

And Raikkonen, whose championship lead was cut by two points by Hamilton, said he was content with the result after a difficult weekend.

He admitted he had lacked pace in qualifying, and he ran most of the race with a damaged front wing following a first-lap collision with Kovalainen.

But Raikkonen admitted that the pressure on him had increased ahead of Monaco and the following race in Canada.

He compromised his own season last year with mistakes in both of those events.

"We had a difficult weekend and I'm happy to be third," the Finn said.

"I didn't lose too many points. We'll see what we can do in the next few races. The next two, last year, were not so strong for us."




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