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My Turkish Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 17:43 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

It is a tall order in Formula 1 to beat Brawn Grand Prix because they seem to flourish wherever they go and whatever the weather.

Their English championship leader, Jenson Button, is also in the form of his life as he looks for his fourth straight victory.

BUT I am going to tip Felipe Massa to delay the Button bandwagon at the Turkish Grand Prix.

In fact, I am picking the Ferrari pair at the head of my top eight predicted finishers in Istanbul.

1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
3. Jenson Button (Brawn GP)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP)
6. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
7. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
8. Nico Rosberg (Williams)

When a driver is dialled into a track, like Massa is at the Istanbul Otodrom, that can be worth a couple of tenths of a second in performance.

The Brazilian has never been beaten in a Ferrari in Turkey and he has won the last three races here from pole position.

massa595.jpg

The second practice session in Turkey was hugely competitive - just 0.7 seconds covered the top 16, which is remarkable.

Neither Massa (11th fastest) nor his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's (15th) times are particularly eye-catching.

But talking to people behind the scenes, and taking into account their fuel loads during practice, I expect Massa to be right up there.

Both Ferraris also have the advantage of the kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) and the extra boost of power could be a huge benefit over the Brawns, which do not have Mercedes's system installed, particularly up the hill from Turn Nine.

Raikkonen is the only other driver to have taken the chequered flag in Turkey - for McLaren in 2005.

The Finn tellingly said after practice: "There is still work to do in the car but I am confident, I think we will find the right solutions to be competitive on Sunday."

I don't think Button will be eclipsed this season; this is certainly not the end of the road for Brawn and his title challenge.

When you have team principal Ross Brawn pulling the strings on the strategy he could easily make me look a mug!

But I still think the Brawns may meet their match on a dry track for the first time this season in the shape of the red machines of Ferraris.

Vettel is undoubtedly quick; he was fourth in the first practice session and fifth in the second spell.

But he was forced to stop his Red Bull after just three completed laps because of engine vibrations and that lack of running could cost him.

I am picking Barrichello to come home in fifth place behind Vettel just because he is running with the magic Brawn and Ross Brawn combination.

Red Bull are looking good on this circuit so I'm backing Webber to collect some solid points in sixth place.

Apparently, the Renault and Fernando Alonso are managing the tricky soft tyres better than one else out there and that will prove very useful in garnering another decent finish.

Rosberg showed prominently on Friday by topping the timesheets in first practice and his Williams team are hopeful some new aerodynamic additions will boost their performance this weekend.

Williams and Rosberg both need to prove a point - and if he wants to be considered a front-line driver he needs to perform as strongly as he can.

In sharp contrast to the picturesque street circuit of Monaco, Turkey is a track where cars stretch their legs.

It demands much more of the car than the drivers, so once again we wait to see who will conquer on Sunday.

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