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Massa makes amends with Bahrain win 15 Apr 2007

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 15 April 2007 Race winner Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2007 crosses the line to win.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 15 April 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 15 April 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3 and Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 15 April 2007 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 15 April 2007

Felipe Massa made up for his Malaysian disappointments with a great victory for Ferrari in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Yet again, however, all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton as the 22 year-old rookie stormed into second place only 2.3s adrift of him after a gripping chase in the final stages.

Overshadowed by both all day, Kimi Raikkonen was third, a further 8.4s behind, with Nick Heidfeld driving a superb race for BMW Sauber to keep world champion Fernando Alonso in his mirrors after passing him round the outside in a dramatic move on the 32nd lap.

The result puts Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen in the joint lead of the drivers’ world championship, with 22 points apiece. Massa moves up to fourth on 17, with Heidfeld fifth on 15.

The race was always a battle between Massa and Hamilton, the Brazilian holding a narrow advantage which he extended after the first stops. The McLarens had the weaker middle stint, but came back with a vengeance in the third on their harder compound Bridgestones.

Crucially for Ferrari, Raikkonen took third place from Alonso after the first stops, but equally important for McLaren a longer middle stint for Hamilton saw him just keep ahead of the Finn when he rejoined after his second pit call. Instead of being the hunted, as he was in Sepang, Hamilton then became the hunter, slashing Massa’s 7.6s advantage to 2.3s in the remaining 13 laps and leaving Raikkonen trailing.

The result answered several questions, not the least of which was how Massa would react in a straight fight with Raikkonen, and how Hamilton would perform in one with Alonso. Three races in, and the rookie not only leads the world championship (albeit jointly) but is the first man ever to finish on the podium in his first three races.

It was a good day for BMW Sauber, as Robert Kubica took a distant sixth for the team. Jarno Trulli put Toyota in the points again with seventh place after a fabulous mid-race scrap with the similarly-powered Williams of Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz. The latter both fell back, however, allowing Giancarlo Fisichella to take the final point for the once mighty Renault team, ahead of partner Heikki Kovalainen.

The Williams pilots were eventually 10th and 11th, helped on their way by the retirements of the two Red Bulls. David Coulthard drove a stormer, but neither he nor Mark Webber made it home, the former suffering a driveshaft failure, the latter left frustrated first by a sticking fuel flap and then by gearbox problems. Nor did the Toro Rossos, Scott Speed coming together with Jenson Button on lap one, and Tonio Liuzzi being delayed by the same incident and eventually retiring - though not before picking up a drive-through penalty for passing under the safety car that came out briefly following the Speed and Button incident.

Ralf Schumacher was an undistinguished 12th, having been thoroughly drubbed by Anthony Davidson, who was headed for 12th when his Honda V8 went the same way as team mate Takuma Sato’s - up in smoke - after he had outpaced the Japanese pilot.

Honda’s only finisher was thus Rubens Barrichello, in 13th, ahead of the Spykers of Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil, who was forced to make an early stop after sustaining damage as a result of the first-lap melee.

Reminded of his new status as the only man with successive podiums in the three opening rounds, Hamilton had one word: “Sweet!”

Indeed it was, for him and for Massa.