Massa makes perfect start

Felipe Massa made the ideal start to his bid for a hat-trick of Turkish Grand Prix wins today.

The first of Massa's six race victories in his Formula One career was at the Istanbul Park circuit two years ago, with the Brazilian repeating the feat last August.

Massa is clearly intent on a three-peat as he led the way in his Ferrari at the end of the first official practice session for Sunday's 58-lap race.

The 27-year-old was rarely troubled, posting a best lap time of one minute 27.323 seconds, just six-thousandths of a second quicker than his pole position lap of nine months ago.

Massa's enjoyment of the 90-minute period was in stark contrast to reigning world champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who propped up the now 20-car field - with Super Aguri folding this week - after suffering a gearbox problem.

The Finn, currently leading the drivers' standings by nine points from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, completed just three laps and was almost 3.5secs down on Massa.

However, it was later confirmed the gearbox would not need to be changed, and that it would be repaired in time for the afternoon session.

The morning run on a dirty track and overcast conditions was at least a productive one for Heikki Kovalainen, returning to action following his 150mph smash in the Spanish Grand Prix 12 days' ago.

Kovalainen remarkably sustained nothing more than mild concussion from the incident, and was cleared to race by FIA medical staff yesterday.

The Finn was ultimately second fastest, just 0.133secs adrift of Massa, and almost 0.3secs ahead of team-mate Hamilton who was third overall and one of several spinners due to the dusty surface.

Renault's Fernando Alonso was the only other driver within a second of Massa, with Jenson Button fifth fastest but nearly 1.6secs down.

Williams' Kazuki Nakajima was sixth, followed by Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber, the second Honda of Rubens Barrichello, Nelson Piquet in his Renault and Toyota's Timo Glock.

Like Raikkonen, Robert Kubica also suffered a mechanical issue, with his BMW Sauber sustaining a rear suspension problem, but with the Pole expected to be back on track later today.

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