Massa wins Bahrain GP

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Felipe Massa of Ferrari won the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, and Lewis Hamilton was on the podium for the third time in three Formula One races.

Updated: April 17, 2007 16:57 IST
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Sakhir, Bahrain:

Felipe Massa of Ferrari won the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, and Lewis Hamilton was on the podium for the third time in three Formula One races this season.

Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was third, and Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber was fourth.

Hamilton, Formula One's first black driver, is the first to start his F1 career with three consecutive finishes in the top three. The McLaren driver finished third at the Australian GP and second at the Malaysian GP.

The previous best start to an F1 career was Peter Arundell with two podiums in two starts in 1964.

Massa won Sunday's race in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 27.515 seconds. Hamilton was 2.360 seconds behind.

On a hazy, day with swirling winds changing track conditions over the circuit, Massa was on the pole and led virtually all the way, just dropping out of first on the two pits stops.

He had ended the 2006 season with a victory at the Brazilian GP.

Two-time defending world champion Fernando Alonso was fifth, creating a three-way tie in the drivers' standings. Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen each have 22 points, but Alonso and Raikkonen have both won already this season. Massa is next with 17 points.

Massa had mistakes from the pole at the last race. He was overtaken to the first turn by Alonso and Hamilton then dropped to fifth when he went off the track trying to pass Hamilton on the sixth lap.

This time he held first through the first turn with Hamilton and Alonso second and third.

Button-Speed collide

However, an accident between Jenson Button and Scott Speed brought out the safety car for two laps and Massa could not break free in the slower pace.

The cars went back up to speed on the fourth lap and the top four drew away from the rest of the field.

After 10 laps, Massa led by about a second over Hamilton, and Alonso was holding off Raikkonen.

There were no changes among the top eight until the first pit stops when the complexion of the race changes. Hamilton started things at the end of lap 19. Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen followed a lap apart.

After things settled down by lap 25, Massa had increased his led to nearly six seconds over Hamilton and Raikkonen had taken over third from Alonso.

Massa led by more than eight seconds over Hamilton by the 30th lap with Raikkonen still 10 seconds back, and Alonso was fading.

Heidfeld then passed Alonso on lap 32 with a neat move on the outside.

By lap 39, Massa was cruising with a 10-second lead over Hamilton but Raikkonen just a second back of Hamilton.

After the second pits stops, Massa still led comfortably. Hamilton closed to within three seconds at the end but never really got close enough to challenge Massa.

Raikkonen ended up 10.8 seconds back in third, and Heidfeld was fourth for the third consecutive race with Alonso running out of laps to overtake him.

Robert Kubica of BMW-Sauber was sixth with Toyota's Jarno Trull seventh and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella eighth.

Alonso won the Bahrain GP last year to begin a stretch in which he won six of the first nine races for Renault. He switched to McLaren at the end of the season, while Raikkonen moved from McLaren to Ferrari.

After races in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, the series moves to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13.

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