Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton have blown the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship wide open, after the former made it three wins out of three in Istanbul and the latter proved McLaren-Mercedes are well-and-truly back in contention.

The Turkish Grand Prix marked the first time since the season curtain-raiser in Melbourne back in March that McLaren have seemed to have the measure of Ferrari, and with an unusually off-colour Kimi Raikkonen coming home just third, battle - it would seem - has been resumed.

After the starting lights took what seemed to be an eternity to come on, when the race finally did get underway pole-sitter Massa made a textbook getaway, as Hamilton - on the clean side of the track - shot past McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Heikki Kovalainen to slot into second place.

Raikkonen attempted to dive up the inside of Kovalainen into third, but as the latter squeezed the world championship leader out, Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber was able to go around the outside of both of them to nick the spot, as Fernando Alonso demoted Raikkonen a further place down to sixth.

A collision towards the back of the pack, however, saw Giancarlo Fisichella enter turn one far too quickly, lock up and slam into the back of Kazuki Nakajima's Williams. Indeed, the experienced Italian - making his 199th grand prix start in Istanbul this weekend - almost flipped over as he marked his third first corner incident in as many years in Turkey, and both he and the rear wing-less Nakajima became early retirees.

With Fisichella's team-mate Adrian Sutil requiring a new front wing too, the safety car was deployed, with Massa leading from Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen, Alonso crucially ahead of Raikkonen and Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard rounding out the top ten.

As the luckless Kovalainen peeled into the pits with a left rear puncture - a result of having been lightly clipped by Raikkonen's Ferrari in the first corner fracas - the safety car disappeared once more to leave Massa leading from a racy-looking Hamilton, whilst behind the pair Raikkonen wasted no time at all in getting by Alonso, fairly breezing past the Renault along the straight as the Spaniard offered precious little resistance.

That left Alonso under pressure from the similarly-powered Webber in the Red Bull Racing machine, with a slow-starting Jarno Trulli hounding Coulthard hard further back for ninth place. Up at the sharp end of proceedings, meanwhile, Massa and Hamilton were trading fastest lap times between themselves, with the Brazilian unable to break away as the British star kept the pressure on. Such was the duo's pace, in fact, that third-placed Kubica and Raikkonen were left somewhat gasping for breath six seconds in arrears.

Kovalainen found himself stuck behind a defensive Sutil in the battle over 17th place - with team-mate Hamilton no doubt able to empathise after spending many a lap boxed in behind the other VJM01 of Fisichella in Bahrain - but the Finn finally made a move stick as he drove all the way around the outside of the Force India in turn twelve, one of the circuit's tight left-handers entering the final complex.

Ahead of them, a supremely brave move from Nelsinho Piquet saw the Renault rookie perform a Wall of Death all the way around the outside of Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel at turn eleven, whilst Piquet's team-mate Alonso became the first man to blink as early as lap 15. Hamilton was surprisingly the next to make a pit visit at the end of the following lap - for a very short stop - whilst further back in the pack Kovalainen was making up further ground, passing Vettel for 15th place.

Kubica suddenly lapped a full seven tenths of a second quicker than he had at any point before during the grand prix, as Webber came in at the end of lap 19 from a temporary fourth spot, the Australian not quite managing to reclaim his position from Alonso.

Massa stopped the following time around, as Kubica joined him, and status quo was rejoined when the Ferrari ace took back to the track again, with Hamilton within sight - but, agonisingly for the Briton, not quite touching distance. That flurry of stops promoted Raikkonen to the head of the field as the Finn finally found some speed, setting a new fastest lap of the race on lap 20.

Raikkonen was indeed right on the limit as he entered the pit-lane almost out of control, but his strategy had done the job as he rejoined the fray ahead of Kubica in a lonely third place - and clearly intent on making a dent in the two race leaders' advantage.

By lap 24, meanwhile, Hamilton had got the gap to Massa down to just half a second, and a superbly-timed move into turn twelve saw the McLaren dive through into the lead - and he immediately pulled away. Further back Kovalainen made a similarly successful move on Piquet for eleventh spot shortly prior to his second pit-stop of the grand prix, with the Brazilian almost running off-track as the Silver Arrow shot past.

With the Scuderia Toro Rossos running 17th and 18th out of 18, S?bastien Bourdais became the race's third retirement as his STR3 became beached in the gravel trap, likely the result of a mechanical failure. At the front of the field, meanwhile, Hamilton was now on a charge, pulling five seconds clear of Massa and almost ten ahead of Raikkonen, as the Briton regularly lapped a second quicker than either of them.

With Hamilton believed to be on a short middle stint, though, and now seven seconds in front of Massa and with 16 seconds in-hand over Raikkonen - with 24 seconds needed to make a pit-stop around the Istanbul Park circuit - BMW told Kubica over the team radio that he was racing the McLaren star this afternoon.

That argument seemed to be corroborated when Hamilton came in for a slick 6.2-second stop for another set of hard tyres on lap 31, whilst Jenson Button, Piquet, Timo Glock and Kovalainen were waging a fraught scrap over eleventh position. Kovalainen tried to go around the outside of the Toyota into turn twelve - his favourite passing place. He succeeded the following lap by going gustily all the way around the outside of turn eleven, but after out-braking himself into turn twelve Glock reclaimed the spot, leaving Heikki to do it all over again.

Just ahead of this duelling pair, Piquet made it second time lucky when he forced his way past Button by muscling it out around the outside of turn twelve and consequently gaining the inside line into turn 13, with the subsequent loss of momentum for Button allowing Kovalainen to go around the outside of the Honda into turn one just moments later. That left Piquet as the Finn's next quarry, with Hamilton similarly chasing down Raikkonen in the tussle over second place, with just over two seconds in it.

With 18 laps to go, race leader Massa and Kubica both pitted, promoting Raikkonen and Hamilton's duel to one for the lead, both with one more stop left to make - but the latter having to switch onto the soft tyres for his final stint, the very same rubber he had tried to avoid in qualifying. As Lewis ramped up the pressure on the defending world champion, Raikkonen was in on lap 42, seeing Hamilton hit the front once again.

Further back, Rosberg and Coulthard were battling over what would likely turn out to be the final points position, with Heidfeld having made up significant ground into fifth place from his lowly ninth grid spot.

Hamilton was in just two laps after Raikkonen, and a supremely quick pit-stop saw him regain the circuit ahead of the Finn - now with 13 laps left to chase down the 5.5-second gap separating him from race leader Massa and stave off the other scarlet machine right behind him.

As the race entered its closing stages, Kovalainen was still endeavouring to break into the top ten, less than half a second behind Coulthard in that quest, and a strong move into turn twelve once more - down the inside this time - earned him the place. With Trulli pitting, that left Rosberg - just ahead of the McLaren - in the final points-paying position. A superb tussle the following time around saw the pair swapping places through the complex before the Finn went past to snatch eighth spot with ten laps left to run.

Raikkonen hadn't given up either, as he continued hounding Hamilton for second place with the Briton struggling a little on the softer rubber, whilst with just eight laps to go, Kovalainen pitted again for a quick splash n' dash - McLaren's curious strategy destroying his hopes of points.

From being in full attack mode for the majority of the afternoon, as the race entered its closing laps, Hamilton suddenly found himself having to play a defensive role, with Raikkonen's Ferrari looming ever-larger in his mirrors.

On the comeback trail once more, Kovalainen went around the outside of Glock for twelfth place at turn three, with Button the next man on his radar. Tenth-placed Trulli, meanwhile, had been told to push hard to close down the 1.6-second gap separating the Toyota ace from Rosberg and Coulthard ahead - and with it the final point - with the Italian rather amusingly replying that he was 'pushing like hell!'

As the leaders entered the final tour, Hamilton held a seven tenth of a second advantage over Raikkonen, with Kovalainen continuing to lap on the same pace to go to show what might have been. Massa ultimately crossed the line 3.7 seconds to the good, with Hamilton holding off Raikkonen to the end, Kubica and Heidfeld taking distant fourth and fifth positions on a somewhat low-key day for BMW and Alonso, Webber and Rosberg rounding out the points-scorers.

The remaining finishers were Coulthard, Trulli, Button, the luckless Kovalainen, Glock, record man Rubens Barrichello - who had begun the race on the softer tyres, contrary to the advice of Honda team principal Ross Brawn - Piquet, Sutil and Vettel on another miserable day for STR.

Up front, though, with Massa's third successive Istanbul triumph, Hamilton defeating the other Ferrari for second place and two of McLaren's strongest circuits on the F1 calendar coming up, the battle for the world championship had suddenly been re-ignited. Roll on Monte Carlo!