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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Felipe Massa sets pace in Turkey

Brazilian Felipe Massa's love affair with the Turkish Grand Prix continues as the Ferrari driver sets the pace in first practice at the Istanbul Park track.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2008 19:44 IST
Gordon Howard
Gordon Howard

Brazilian Felipe Massa's love affair with the Turkish Grand Prix continued on Friday as the Ferrari driver set the pace in first practice at the Istanbul Park track.

Massa has won the last two races on the 5.338 kms circuit, which has quickly established itself as one of the trickiest on the Formula One calendar with plenty of opportunities for overtaking.

The 27-year-old is hoping to complete a hat-trick of wins in Sunday's 58-lap race to stop team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen increasing his 11-point advantage over him in the drivers title race.

And it was not early-season leader Raikkonen who led the chasing pack to Massa in opening practice as the Finn completed just three laps in the 90-minute session.

The defending world champion finished bottom of the time-sheets.

Instead, it was compatriot Heikki Kovalainen, back behind the wheel of his McLaren, who impressed in his first outing since a horrifying 240 kph crash at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Kovalainen, who passed a medical on Thursday, finished just 0.133 seconds off the best time of 1min 27.323sec set by Massa as the drivers adjusted to the cooler conditions than usual, the race having been switched from August.

Massa, however, did not have a trouble free run. He was one of several drivers who went off at turn eight, a corner that has become one of the most difficult to get right.

Kovalainen's McLaren team-mate Briton Lewis Hamilton, second in the championship, but nine points behind Raikkonen after five races, was third quickest.

The Englishman finished almost half-a-second adrift of the pacesetter.

Renault's Spaniard Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest with Briton Jenson Button fifth on a track where he expects Honda to continue their recent improvement. Japan's Kazuki Nakajima was sixth for the Williams team.

Just 20 drivers left the garages as the Super Aguri duo of Japanese Takuma Sato and Briton Anthony Davidson were missing after the team failed to find a new financial backer.