F1 Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix

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More Turkish delight for Massa

May 11, 2008 - 2:42 PM By Ian Parkes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Ticker) -- Felipe Massa recorded a hat trick of Turkish Grand Prix victories Sunday following a fascinating tactical battle with Lewis Hamilton.

Three of Massa's seven career wins have now come at the Istanbul Park circuit, propelling the Brazilian to within seven points of current championship leader and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn was forced to settle for third as Hamilton managed to hold off the reigning world champion over the closing laps to claim the runner-up spot in his McLaren.

Hamilton is tied with Massa in the standings and has at least taken two points out of Raikkonen's lead at the top heading into Monaco and Montreal - favored tracks for the Woking-based team.

Massa eventually finished 3.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton, as McLaren opted to run a three-stop strategy due to tire concerns on the track.

"With Lewis we had a structural concern with his tires," McLaren team boss Ron Dennis said. "So we took a decision with Bridgestone to run three stops.

"We didn't want to have any tire failure, and although we could have run two stops, we put the safety of the driver first. Lewis did a great job and we can now look forward to Monaco and Montreal."

The BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were fourth and fifth, with Renault's Fernando Alonso sixth.

Giancarlo Fisichella, starting at the back of the field due to a three-place grid penalty imposed following a practice infringement, ran into the back of Williams' Kazuki Nakajima.

Fisichella, who momentarily was airborne before landing in the gravel, was out of the race. Although Nakajima managed to limp back to the pits, his race was also run as the damage to his rear wing was too much for his team to repair.

The duo of Massa and Hamilton traded fastest laps early on, with Hamilton fairing the better as he reeled in the Brazilian and was within 0.5 seconds when he pitted at the end of lap 16.

However, it was virtually a "splash-and-dash" stop for Hamilton, who was in and out in just 6.4 seconds. Again he opted to use the harder compound tire, as opposed to the Ferraris who were running on softer rubber.

When Massa pitted three laps later, he managed to stay in front of Hamilton, despite a 9.3 second stop.

On lap 32, Hamilton was in again, and it was then clear his team were running a three-stop strategy, running for as long as possible on their favored harder tire. Massa and Raikkonen made their second and final stops on laps 40 and 43, handing the lead back to Hamilton.

When the 23-year-old made his third lightning stop two laps later - taking just 5.9 seconds - his pit crew at least crucially managed to get him ahead of Raikkonen, but just over five seconds down on Massa.

All three of the leading drivers, though, were now on their least favored rubber, with Hamilton on the soft option and the Ferraris using the harder compound.

It soon became apparent Hamilton could not make any inroads into Massa, instead his main concern being Raikkonen over the closing stages, although he managed to hold him off to claim second.

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