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Hat-trick for Massa in Istanbul

Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa won his third consecutive Turkish Grand Prix, claiming his seventh career victory. Massa finished 3.7secs clear of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, while reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen took third spot.

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Ferrari's Felipe Massa won the Turkish Grand Prix from pole position for the third year in a row on Sunday after tyre concerns slowed Lewis Hamilton's challenge.

 

The Brazilian took the chequered flag 3.7 seconds ahead of the 23-year-old McLaren driver, who ran most of the race on the harder tyres and had to make three pitstops compared to his rivals' two.

 

It was Massa's seventh win in Formula One, at the anti-clockwise track where he took his first in 2006, and his second in five races this season.

 

Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen saw his overall lead trimmed to seven points from nine after finishing a close third. The Finn, the only driver to score points in every race this season, now has 35 to Massa and Hamilton's 28.

 

Massa's win was champions Ferrari's fourth in a row and meant that the Turkish Grand Prix, which made its debut in 2005, has still only ever been won by the driver on pole position.

 

Three of his wins have come in Turkey, prompting a suggestion that the Brazilian should change nationality: "I think I can get a passport here already," he grinned.

 

Poland's Robert Kubica was fourth, ahead of BMW Sauber team mate Nick Heidfeld.

 

Double world champion Fernando Alonso put Renault back in the points with sixth place while Australian Mark Webber was seventh to score for the fourth race in a row. Germany's Nico Rosberg took the final point for Williams.

 

 

TYRE CONCERNS

 

Massa led from the start while Hamilton, winner of the season-opener in Australia, accelerated past his McLaren team mate Heikki Kovalainen from third on the grid with Kubica close behind.

 

The safety car came out at the end of the opening lap when Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India slammed into the back of Kazuki Nakajima's Williams at the first corner, leaving debris on the track.

 

Kovalainen, coming back from a big accident two weeks ago and making his first start on the front row, went to the back of the field when he pitted at the end of the second lap with a puncture after banging wheels with Raikkonen. He finished 12th.

 

Hamilton pitted after 16 laps and then brilliantly overtook Massa, who had come in three laps later, for the lead on lap 24.

 

The Briton then pitted again at the end of lap 32, with Massa again taking over at the front until his second and final pitstop when Raikkonen took over for three laps before again leaving Hamilton ahead.

 

But the youngster knew he had to pit again for the softer tyres, with drivers having to use both types during the race, and he made his third stop with 13 laps to go before coming back out in second place.

 

Team boss Ron Dennis revealed later that the Briton's hopes of winning were already looking doubtful because of tyre concerns.

 

"Heikki got clipped by Kimi and cut a sidewall," he said of Kovalainen's misfortune.

 

"With Lewis, we had a bit of a structural concern with the tyres.

 

"We took a decision on safety to run three stops," he added. "There was some internal delamination which Bridgestone were good at picking up... it was possibly okay to run two stops but we put the drivers safety first," said Dennis.

 

Hamilton said the team had still done a great job.

 

"Bridgestone were concerned the tyre was going to fail as it did last year," said the Briton, who suffered a costly blowout in Turkey last August.

 

"That put us in not such a strong position to win the race. But if I'm given a problem, I deal with it and so does the team," he added.

 

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello started his record 157th race and finished 14th for Honda.

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