Whether it be a spying scandal or inter-team arguments behind closed doors, as the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship heads East to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix, the emphasis probably isn't where it should be - and that is this year's title race looks set to be the one of the closest and most exciting of modern times.

Indeed, while that fact has likely fuelled - or been fuelled - by the situations currently engulfing the sport, grabbing it headlines around the world, earning opinions from those in the know and creating a flurry of media interest, the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso-Kimi Raikkonen-Felipe Massa tussle remains the ultimate story heading to Istanbul.

One of the newer events on the calendar, the sweeping Turkish circuit is a curious blend of quality and traditional charm, weaving the high standard facilities required to maintain a place on the Formula 1 calendar, with a dash of the atmosphere that has been missing from some of the superb, if sterile, new venues adorning the championship's list of travels.

Not that the circuit hasn't created a bit of controversy in its two seasons on the calendar, the circuit almost losing its place when it breached podium regulations in 2006.

Still, Istanbul Park - especially that eighth turn - is already mentioned in the same breath as Spa and Suzuka by most drivers; ringing endorsements don't come better than that! So Turkey is here to stay and it is likely to play host to interesting developments both on and off the track.

The world's media is watching - but will it be the race itself that this time makes the back pages by the time Monday's newspapers are printed?

FIA F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS

Although the sport was embarking on a much needed summer break to try and ease some of the situations that arose from the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Formula 1 was nonetheless rarely out of the news during those three-weeks.

Naturally, the dominating factor was the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso saga which has, remarkably, managed to overshadow the spying saga that came before it. Reports of the feud have been conflicting, ranging from both extremes - that being 'peace' and 'war'.

Officially, McLaren claim there are no problems with the relationship between their drivers and the team principals, but other sources claim disparity and arguments, which could possibly lead to a disillusioned Alonso walking out at the end of the season. It is the fact that Alonso could leave McLaren at the end of the year that has got the rumour mill flowing at full force, with Renault at least apparently stepping up to try and lure the double world champion before he changes his mind and tries to battle for number one status in McLaren.

Either way, the next few races are likely to be crucial for Alonso's frame of mind, already battered by the way in which rookie Hamilton has come and challenged a superiority he likely assumed he would claim when he switched from Renault.

In the meantime, McLaren are due to spend a very unromantic week in Paris in September as they go to the appeals court on the 13th to decide the outcome of Ferrari's challenge to the original 'spy' ruling in July, before returning six days later to find out whether they can reclaim the constructors' points they were disallowed from that controversial Hungarian weekend.

Still, while the McLaren stories remain shrouded in speculation, at least Scuderia Toro Rosso - themselves prone to a bit of hear' say - managed to confirm something between the races after revealing that Sebastien Bourdais will join the team in 2008.

The three - and possibly four - time Champ Car World Series title winner will make the switch at the end of the season to join Sebastien Vettel in an all-new line-up for the Italian squad.

Perhaps even less of a surprise - despite mentions of Alonso making a shock switch in recent media-fuelled days - BMW have revealed that Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica will be going nowhere in 2008 as they bid to extend a breakthrough season that this year that has put them a comfortable third in the standings.

Although suggestions that Heidfeld could be Toyota-bound and Alonso be BMW-bound were rife at various stages of an increasingly 'silly season', BMW have picked continuity over major changes as they hope to make the step to race winner next year - even though neither Heidfeld or Kubica have won a race yet...

NEWS FROM THE TEAMS:
McLaren - Fernando Alonso (#1), Lewis Hamilton (#2):

Hamilton and Alonso remain focused heading into the Turkish Grand Prix, even though their focus is likely to be very different to those of onlookers, who will be watching the two drivers closely for any signs of the bad feeling they have reportedly been experiencing.

Famously tight-lipped McLaren on the other hand will be keen to hide any disparity this weekend and that is likely to mean the drivers will be forced to do their talking on the track and not in the media - something that is hardly a bad thing.

Nonetheless, Hamilton and Alonso may well have to bury their differences if they are fight off Ferrari, who are expected to have a stronger package around the high-speed circuit. Still, the desire getting one over on each other will be strong too and could work in their favour to try and deny their other rivals a victory.

Furthermore, both drivers enjoy the circuit, Alonso in particular after prevailing in a lengthy fight with Michael Schumacher last season that ultimately proved the changing of the guard in terms of Formula 1 superiority.

"It is always great to have a break and re-charge the batteries, but it is fantastic to be getting back out on track in Turkey. I have a solid points total in the Drivers' World Championship and I am aiming to build on that considerably in Istanbul. We are in a strong position in both Championships and there are a lot of points to be won in the final six races.

"However, we are looking at the races one by one, and my focus is on this Grand Prix and getting the best result possible in Turkey. I have come second in the two years we have raced here previously and I will be aiming to improve on that this time. The track is great to drive, with some sections that are really on the limit and what you want to race on as a driver, turn eight in particular."

Hamilton meanwhile will be experiencing the circuit for the first time in the McLaren, but will no doubt be basking in the memory of his fine drive in GP2 last year when he battled up from the back of the field to claim second place, executing some of the masterful overtaking manoeuvres that got the F1 paddock sitting up and taking notice in the first place. One year on, Hamilton is again facing a moment of truth.

"I have great memories of the Istanbul Park, last year this was a defining race in the GP2 Championship for me and I am really looking forward to getting out there with the MP4-22. It is an amazing track to drive, with so many different challenges, and overtaking is possible.

"During the short summer break I have been keeping up with my training to ensure I am fully prepared for it. Along with the team, I am very motivated right now. There are six races remaining and I am looking forward to the challenge."

Renault - Giancarlo Fisichella (#3), Heikki Kovalainen (#4):

Giancarlo Fisichella is under pressure to perform in Turkey as his place within the Renault team looks increasingly perilous, Italian now just one point ahead of rookie team-mate - and number two driver - Heikki Kovalainen.

Indeed, the Finn has been on a good run of form in recent races and has begun out-qualifying and out-racing Fisichella on a regular basis, something that is likely to be taken into account when Renault decide their driver line-up for 2008 with a number of other drivers in mind.

However, what the drivers are doing personally though continues to pale into comparison of the overall team performance, with Renault looking almost certain not to catch ultimate rivals BMW over the remaining six races, despite their best attempts - and claims.

Nonetheless, Renault are looking to forge a gap between BMW and remainder of the mid-field over the next few races and it is something Fisichella is confident of achieving in Turkey.
"I am focused on the weekend ahead. We will be trying to have a strong race, it's important for me and for the team's championship position as well.
"It is a new generation circuit, everything is still very new and it is a properly challenging circuit. I have always raced well here in the past, and I hope it will be the case again this year."
Kovalainen meanwhile cannot wait to get back out on circuit, despite admitting he needed a break to take stock on a first two-thirds of a season that started slowly but is beginning to pick up.
"I actually drove an F1 car here last year when we did a demonstration run as part of the World Series by Renault race weekend, so I have some idea of how the circuit feels in an F1 car. It is a very tough circuit and I must say, one of my favourites. Everything has been really well thought-out, they did a fantastic job to bring F1 to Turkey and the atmosphere is always special, because the Turkish fans seem to really enjoy the race weekend. I can't wait to race in Istanbul."

Ferrari - Felipe Massa (#5), Kimi Raikkonen (#6):

No doubt hoping to capitalise on the furore surrounding McLaren, Ferrari are heading to Turkey confident they can get back to winning ways on a circuit that is likely to suit the F2007 better than most.

The longer wheelbase designed for faster circuits in the same vein as Albert Park, Bahrain Magny-Cours and Silverstone - all of which Ferrari have won at this year - mean Istanbul Park could well put McLaren's driver feud into perspective.

For Massa, Istanbul is the scene of many happy memories, last year's race having signalled the first of his four career victories to this point. Indeed, he will need a repeat of last year's race if he is to maintain contact in this season's title race, the Brazilian's abysmal Hungarian Grand Prix putting him back behind Kimi Raikkonen and 21 points off the championship lead.

Nonetheless, the Brazilian is confident that both he and the car will be the combination to beat come race day.

"I am looking forward to Turkey, which will always have a special significance for me, as it was in Istanbul last year that I got my first ever Grand Prix victory. It is still fresh in my mind and it is a great memory and a nice feeling to be carrying back with me to this year's race. It was a great victory for me. I love the track and the city and I really hope to repeat the great result from last year, when I was very strong all weekend, starting from pole position and winning on Sunday. I hope we can do it again. Istanbul Park is a really great track.

"Turkey last year I was a first time race winner and in the space of twelve months things have changed as I am now chasing a title. As a team, we try and have a package that is competitive at every circuit, but Istanbul is the first of a series of quick tracks and I think these will suit us particularly well. Last year, from Turkey onwards I had a great championship, so that is an encouraging sign."

Although beaten fairly in a tense head-to-head in Hungary, Raikkonen is confident for Turkey too, particularly as he clings onto the fact that he is - and will always be - the first winner of the race in 2005.

Now, like Massa, he needs a repeat of that win after seeing Hamilton eke out another two points to his advantage, the 20 point gap now meaning Raikkonen's rival needs to hit problems over the remainder of the season if he is to realistically overhaul him.

"We are optimistic for Turkey: I won the first race ever held here, which gave me a very special feeling. The track is similar to the one at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, where the aerodynamic efficiency counts a lot. And then we drive anti-clockwise: nothing changes in terms of the technics, but the driver's necks will suffer slightly.

"Everybody is talking about turn number 8: it doesn't have the fascination of the Eau Rouge but is very demanding in its own way. It is really nice to have new kinds of fast corners to drive through at the max: everybody always wants to have more. I can't wait for Friday morning so that I can drive my laps behind the wheel of my Ferrari!"

Honda - Jenson Button (#7), Rubens Barrichello (#8):

If Hungary 2006 was a high for Honda, then arguably Hungary 2007 was possibly a new low. The low-speed Hungaroring made the RA107 more ponderous than usual and did nothing to silence the cynics who scoffed at claims the team were making a step forward.

Nonetheless, that remains the word coming from Honda, who believe the high-speed nature of the Istanbul Park circuit will suit the car much better and see them challenge in the mid-field more effectively.

Still, Honda suffered the indignation of neither car making it through to the second phase of qualifying, while Rubens Barrichello went on to be out raced by Adrian Sutil in the Spyker, representing an even lower point than the team could have possibly envisaged early in the year when they looked to be struggling most.

Although both drivers accept there is much more development that needs to be done, both Jenson Button and Barrichello are remaining positive that they can at least banish some of those Hungary memories with a better performance in Turkey.

"The Turkish Grand Prix has quickly become one of my favourite races on the F1 calendar," said Button, who finished fourth in 2006. "The track layout is excellent with a challenging combination of long straights, tight hairpins and the very high-speed turn eight. The changes in elevation also contribute to making it a fun circuit for the drivers. There are some really good overtaking opportunities at turn one and turn three where I gained a place in the race last year. You also have a chance at passing into turns nine and twelve.

"To get a really quick lap around this circuit, you really need to consciously push hard all the way round and use the track's camber to your full advantage. I have had a couple of great races here in the last two years to finish in the top six, and whilst our performance isn't quite there this year, I am expecting an improvement from the last race."

Like Button, Barrichello rates Istanbul as one of his favourites, while he too scored points in the race last year, finishing eighth having started 13th.

"I have been very impressed with the Istanbul circuit over the past two years and we have seen some exciting races there. The track is fairly challenging from a drivers' point of view as it runs anti-clockwise which is quite unusual and physically tough, and also the undulations are quite extreme which can make your lap quite exciting. The highlight for most drivers is the high-speed turn eight where the triple apex makes it really important to get your line right.

"The break has been good to recharge and get ready for the final stage of the season but I know that work has been continuing at the factory to push the development of the car. I am confident that we will have a better race weekend in Turkey."

BMW Sauber - Nick Heidfeld (#9), Robert Kubica (#10):

Confirmed for 2008, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica can complete the 2007 with even more confidence than they currently have as they continue to cause a few headaches for the Ferrari and McLaren team.

Although not regularly on their pace, both Heidfeld and Kubica are bothering the top teams, particularly when the likes of Alonso and Massa slip up ? la Hungary.

Third place signalled a second podium of the season for both Heidfeld and BMW in Hungary, while even Kubica starred by managing to overcome a problem in qualifying to finish fifth, just behind Alonso.

It now puts the duo comfortably ahead of the chasing pack in the driver standings, while BMW now command a comprehensive 38-point lead over a still optimistic Renault heading to Turkey.

Still, the 2006 race was not kind to Heidfeld and Kubica, the former qualifying sixth but being tipped into a spin by Fisichella on the first corner, while the latter struggled with tyre problems, leaving both well outside of the points. Nonetheless, both have high hopes this time around.

"The race in 2006 was disappointing," Heidfeld lamented. "Sixth place on the grid was good, but I was hit by Giancarlo Fisichella in the first corner and ultimately only just managed to coax a damaged car across the finishing line. The circuit does have overtaking possibilities, which is very good. It has an extremely long straight and there are slow and high-speed corners. Turn 8 is a favourite of mine: it's very fast and difficult."

"An amazing circuit - Turn 8 has already staked its claim to fame," Kubica added. "Most drivers find this section quite a challenge. It is very long and in fact consists of four different bends. It's great fun as soon as you've got your line sorted out. The circuit can also be pretty vicious, because occasionally you bottom out, lose traction and the car becomes unstable. We weren't particularly fast there in 2006. I hope things will look better in 2007."

Toyota - Ralf Schumacher (#11), Jarno Trulli (#12):

Just when it looked certain that Toyota would be looking for a new partner for Jarno Trulli in 2008, Ralf Schumacher produced his finest drive in some time to record a sixth place in Hungary just to confuse matters.

Indeed, it seems Toyota is at the centre of the 'silly season' on the assumption that Schumacher, on the back of a dismal start to the 2007 season, would be heading out of the team.

Nonetheless, a strong qualifying effort in Hungary, followed by a feisty drive to keep Fernando Alonso behind him for much of the race led to a sixth place finish, his best result of the season and equalling Trulli's best at Indianapolis.

Together with a qualifying performance from the team that has seen both cars start inside the top ten for the last three races, Toyota once again look to be on a mid-season rise, with an equally good performance in Turkey now on their radar.

"Hungary was a very strong weekend for me and the team, with my best qualifying and race results of the season," Schumacher said. "We looked really competitive and had a good result so I am now looking forward to building on that performance in Turkey.

"Our car seems to be reasonably competitive on different kinds of circuits so we are hopeful again for this weekend. It was important for the team to score points in Hungary and now we will aim to do that again in Turkey. I enjoyed the summer break but now I am ready to get back to racing."

Trulli meanwhile is currently experiencing something of a lean period, the Italian's famous qualifying pace not being backed up by his equally infamous lacklustre race pace. Indeed, the Italian has not scored since Indianapolis, although Trulli has at least scored in Turkey before, claiming sixth in 2005.

"I am looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix after a relaxing break with my family. In the end it was a disappointing weekend for me in Hungary because we showed a lot of potential in practice and early in qualifying, especially when I was 3rd in Q2, but we did not get the result we hoped for. We need to work hard to improve.

"I am looking forward to the weekend and I hope we can get a decent result because we have shown if everything goes well, our car is capable of scoring points. I am aiming to keep up my good record of qualifying in the top 10 and then hopefully I can score points again."

Red Bull Racing - David Coulthard (#14), Mark Webber (#15):

Red Bull found themselves back in their mid-field natural habitat in Hungary, their third and fifth place finish at the Nurburgring nowhere near to being repeated two weeks later.

Indeed, it was an achingly anonymous event for both Mark Webber and David Coulthard, the duo qualifying ninth and tenth and then embarking on an afternoon's drive that merely yielded ninth and eleventh by the chequered flag.

Nonetheless, consistency is coming Red Bull's way now, as it reliability, their double finish in Hungary proving only their third of the season.

Istanbul was far from kind to the team last year though, with Christian Klien's top ten qualifying position the only real highlight of a weekend that produced no points. Still, the team know their way around the circuit, Coulthard finishing seventh in 2005 and Webber qualifying inside the top ten for both races - even if he is yet to finish at the circuit. Both drivers though will be looking to record good points on merit this weekend, and not just because those ahead fall off the circuit.

Williams - Nico Rosberg (#16), Alex Wurz (#17):

Williams pulled slightly away in their quest to maintain fifth position in the constructor standings after Nico Rosberg finished seventh in Hungary, even if his ill-judged three-stop pit strategy failed to make the most of his fourth place starting position.

With now almost double the points total they managed in 2006, Williams have shown strong performance at various stages of the year, Rosberg's Hungarian endeavour a case point, the German having proved strong the whole weekend.

It puts them four points ahead of Red Bull in the constructor standings, something the team will be keen to maintain in Turkey, a circuit Rosberg considers 'easier than Hungary'.

"Istanbul is a great track so I'm looking forward to driving it again. I'm hoping we will have found some more performance over the three week gap which will allow us to stay close to the others and to keep our momentum going into the last races. It's going to be very hot again so it'll be a tough race but it will still be easier than Hungary.

"I have some good memories from last year's race in Turkey, I was running in fifth at one point. To have a good race this year and score some more points for the team is what I'll be aiming for."

Although easily the more anonymous of Williams' driver pairing, that third and fourth place result for Alex Wurz means retains ninth position in the standings - ahead of Rosberg.

Still, despite being the lead driver on paper, Wurz is now getting to the stage where he needs to start pulling out some inspiring drives in regular conditions if he is to retain his Williams drive next year. On the plus side, the Austrian has finished all but two races this year and those two retirements were not self-inflicted or due to reliability errors. Williams however need someone to combine dependability and speed now though.

"I always look forward to the Turkish Grand Prix because it's such a fantastic race track. It is very demanding physically, mainly because of turn eight; a super fast, high G corner which really strains the neck muscles as well as the tyres and the car. I had a great holiday over the three week summer break with my family.

"I managed to train every day, and I covered lots of kilometres on the bike and while running. I also made sure I did some extra work to strengthen my neck, back and shoulders in preparation for Turkey."

Scuderia Toro Rosso - Vitantonio Liuzzi (#18), Sebastian Vettel (#19):

Basking in the news that they have secured the signature of Sebastien Bourdais in 2008, Scuderia Toro Rosso head to Istanbul with one eye on the future and full of confidence - well, maybe everyone except Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Indeed, with Scott Speed having already departed, Liuzzi must now contend with a remainder of a season in which he knows he will be fighting to stay in Formula 1 next year. Still, this could manifest in two different ways; either Liuzzi will be unmotivated enough merely to see out the rest of the season, or possibly he will use this time to impress prospective employers.

The latter is most likely because in new team-mate Sebastian Vettel, he has a benchmark. The fresh-faced young German is stern competition and is highly regarded up and down the pit lane. If Liuzzi can out pace him over the remaining rounds, then he stands a chance to displaying what he was always expected to show when he debuted in 2006.

Still, Turkey represents a year since Vettel burst onto the Formula 1 scene by assuming the role of Friday test driver for BMW. When he was quickest in his first session, Vettel's status as a star of the future was guaranteed - one year on, now comes the time in which he really must deliver.

Spyker F1 - Sakon Yamamoto (#20), Adrian Sutil (#21):

Spyker embark on their biggest weekend of the year as they launch the much anticipated B-specification of their F8-VII, a car which has been designed under the watchful eye of Mike Gascoyne.

That alone is expected to help the team up the grid, although most concerned are playing down the fact that they will now be a consistent mid-field contender and are instead insisting it is in 2008 that they will be able to show their true colours.

Nonetheless, Hungary was a turning point for Spyker alone after Adrian Sutil comprehensively out raced the Honda of Rubens Barrichello and was due to do the same to Jenson Button had he not retired.

"I think Hungary was one of the best results of the season as we finished in front of a works team," beamed Sutil. "For sure we have had some other good races this year, for example Indianapolis, where we have been able to get and stay close to the others but this last race was one of the best."

"It was difficult to get a feel for the [new] car as it was raining very hard, we only had 50km and we were using the short version of Silverstone, which has about four corners! I also knew that we had to take care of the car, stay on the track and not take any risks. We tested the engine temperature and set-up over longer runs and everything seemed to be working well."

Sakon Yamamoto meanwhile makes his second appearance with the team after a rather short debut in Hungary, but having proved closer to Sutil in pace than many had expected on his return to Formula 1, the Japanese driver has lofty aspirations for the rest of the season, including getting into the second phase of qualifying for the first time.

"I got quite close to Adrian in Qualifying, which I was pleased with as I think Adrian has a very good level with his driving, so his time is always the target. I first tried to be as close to him, but I just tried to push and use the car potential 100%. I don't know exactly how much we can improve with the new car, but my target now is going to Q2."

"Of course every time I drive a new car, whether Formula 1, Formula 3 or GP2, the seat fit is very important, but it takes time to get it right. We tried to have the best seat possible before going to Hungary but after we ran, we knew we would have to make some small modifications so after the race I came to Silverstone to make a new seat, which should help in Turkey."

Super Aguri F1 - Takuma Sato (#22), Anthony Davidson (#23):

Super Aguri kept themselves comfortably in the mix during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, with Anthony Davidson in particular impressing by easily out-qualifying Takuma Sato and then missing out on a possible first top ten finish when he was eliminated by a clash with Fisichella.

Sato went on to finish 15th, but although it proved to be a pretty unspectacular weekend for the Anglo-Japanese team, they were once again well ahead of 'superior sibling' Honda throughout qualifying and the race.

Turkey offers a new challenge though for the two drivers, but can at least be comforted by the knowledge that both Hondas, on which the Aguri SA07 is based, finished well inside the points in last year's race.

TYRES:

The medium and hard compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres make their first appearance since the British Grand Prix, the toughest combination of compounds the company will offer this year.

Part of this reason is likely to be the hugely demanding, if rather underwhelmingly named, 'turn eight' which is set to be the biggest challenge for the tyres. Indeed, with its three high-speed apexs, it is considered one of the finest corners on the Formula 1 calendar.

Nonetheless, the remainder of the Istanbul Park circuit is likely to take its toll on tyres too, the gradient changes and challenging mixture of high, medium and low-speed corners intended to test the drivers and their machines.

The final combination of corners before heading on to the start-finish straight will also give teams plenty to think about. The left-right-left of turns 12 to 14 are the lowest speed areas of the track and come straight after the highest-speed straight. This combination is a breeding ground for tyre graining so teams and drivers will have to pay particular attention here to minimise this.

"Istanbul is a very nice circuit because of its natural layout with both uphill and downhill sections. Hard braking into many corners over the course of the lap creates a lot of heat in the tyres. This adds to the ambient heat we usually experience there. Turn eight is a very challenging corner for the tyres because it creates a lot of g-forces.

"This corner is particularly significant as, were it not for the forces exerted on the tyre at turn eight, we could run with a softer compound in Turkey. Unlike Hungary, it is not as important to be on the front row in Turkey, as the layout creates more overtaking opportunities."

THE TRACK:
Race Distance: 58 laps - Circuit Length: 3.318 miles (5.338 kms)

The Turkish Grand Prix made its Formula One debut in 2005 at an all-new purpose built circuit just outside Istanbul. The 5.338km track was designed by Herman Tilke, the man behind the new circuits in Malaysia, Bahrain and China.

The circuit features fourteen turns - eight lefts and six rights - with plenty of gradient change as the track is built on four different ground levels. An unusual feature is that the lap runs anti-clockwise, joining Interlagos in Brazil as the only circuits currently on the F1 calendar to do so. The circuit provides the drivers with a real challenge, with the cars reaching speeds of up to 330kph along the two main straights.

The facilities at the circuit are as impressive as the race track. Seating capacity at Istanbul Park is 130,000 with 25,000 of those in the main grandstand, and parking is available for 12,000 cars. Dominating the circuit's skyline are two seven-floor towers built at either end of the paddock for VIPs and the media.

THE WINNER?

Perhaps the question here should be: Who needs to win? Should we assume that the winner is likely to come from either the McLaren or Ferrari camp, both teams' drivers are set to have different reasons for wanting to win come Sunday.

For Hamilton and Alonso, victory is more than just victory - it is a potential changing of the guard (if it hasn't already changed...) Both want to win to boost their title hopes, but at the same will hope to prevail in a clear head-to-head, something they haven't really had a chance to do this year for various reasons.

Raikkonen and Massa meanwhile need a win to maintain their contact in battling for the drivers' title having lost more ground to leader Hamilton in Hungary. However, the F2007 is predicted to be very strong on a fast circuit such as Istanbul Park and if their dominance at Magny-Cours and Silverstone is an indicator, Ferrari could well be the team to beat come race day, potentially making Hamilton and Alonso's inter-team rivalry look somewhat foolish.

LAST SEASON:

Having scored his first podium nine races earlier, Felipe Massa took his career plaudits to a new level in Turkey when he scored his first ever victory from under the nose of Michael Schumacher - and he probably had Fernando Alonso to thank for that.

Indeed, Schumacher had been dominant all weekend but made a mistake on his qualifying lap to gift Massa a first ever pole position too. Getting a good start, Massa led Schumacher as the Ferrari duo eased away from Alonso.

However, when a safety car period mid-way through the race threw strategies in the air, Ferrari were forced to bring both of their cars into the pit-lane at the same time, Massa leading Schumacher. With Schumacher forced to wait, Alonso did just enough to get out ahead again, where the two embarked on a thrilling cat and mouse chase over the final few laps. Eventually, Alonso prevailed by just a few tenths from Schumacher, but both were comfortably behind an emotional Massa.

Jenson Button followed up his breakthrough win a round before at Hungary with fourth position, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa - who battled bravely from 11th on the grid -, Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

1. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 58 laps 01:28:51.082
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +5.5
3. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari +5.6
4. Jenson Button Britain Honda-Honda +12.3
5. Pedro de la Rosa Spain McLaren-Mercedes +45.9
6. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault-Renault +46.5
7. Ralf Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari +59.3
8. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda-Honda +60.0

 

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