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Massa out to extend Turkish run

ISTANBUL, June 4 – Brazilian Felipe Massa is hoping he can maintain Ferrari's mid-season recovery with a fourth successive victory at his favourite track, the Istanbul Park circuit, in Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.FERRARIJust two weeks after finishing fourth in the Monaco Grand Prix, the Latin American believes that Ferrari’s continued improvements have given him a chance of landing his team’s first win this year.

At Monaco, Ferrari team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen came home second behind championship-leading Briton Jenson Button of Brawn to secure a podium finish.

Massa said: "At Istanbul, we have another small step in terms of aerodynamic development, which should improve the car still further – and that is down to a big push from the guys in the factory.

"We want to continue to improve as quickly as possible, to try and win some races. If will be fantastic if we find we are in a position to fight for the win in Turkey.

"I just like the track and feel comfortable there, but it’s hard to pinpoint why it suits me better than some other circuits."

But Button, his confidence boosted by opening up a clear lead in the title race following his Monaco win, is sure he can stay on top at the anti-clockwise Istanbul venue.

"I don’t want to make any prediction, but I am pretty sure we are going to remain competitive against most of our rivals," said Button. "And personally I like racing at Istanbul Park. It’s a place with good passing opportunities.

"Turn eight is obviously the corner that everyone talks about and it’s probably the longest corner that I’ve ever driven. It’s quite high G-force, up to 5G for seven seconds, which puts a lot of stress on your neck.

"You have to be as smooth as possible through the triple apex and if you get it right and take it flat, then it is one of those corners where you exit with a huge smile having made up a lot of time."

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Team boss Ross Brawn, who has been impressed with Button’s racing and commitment this season, said they have developed their car with a new front wing and some aerodynamic updates and rear suspension elements.

He said: "It’s going to be tough again as our competitors are working so hard. It’s hard to believe that we are already more than a third of the way through this season – it’s been a very intense but immensely rewarding start for the Brawn GP team."

Though Brawn are comfortably on top in both the drivers and constructors championships, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has declared he will push as hard as possible to close the gap. And he said he still believes Red Bull can win the titles.

"Brawn has a huge lead in the constructors’ and a significant lead in the drivers’," he said. "We’re going to focus on every race as it comes. We believe that the next couple of races should play to the strengths of our car and we have some great development in the pipeline.

"Jenson is only four points off a maximum score, which is a remarkable achievement but things can change very quickly. We’re going to take every race as it comes and the championship will take care of itself.

"We’re just looking forward to having a straight fight in clean air with the Brawns. Other than in China, we haven’t really gone head to head with them."

Defending world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton also believes he can improve and fight back, though his chances of retaining his crown are slim.

"I love racing in Turkey," he said. "It’s a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres – if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer.

"It’s all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don’t overdo it. I also love the fact that it’s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks – it’s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive."

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This weekend’s race will at least be run without an undercurrent of political chicanery dominating the paddock after the leading teams last week decided to submit ‘conditional’ entries for the 2010 World Championship following threats that they would walk away.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said: "The nine teams – Williams’ membership having been suspended – that currently make up FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) have put in entries for the 2010 championship that will only be valid if the Concorde Agreement is signed and if the regulations will be those currently in use, but modified as per FOTA’s suggestions."

He emphasised that the decision did not mean that the Formula One Teams’ Association accepted the budget caps as proposed by the ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).

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