F1: Rookie Lewis making mark

Lewis Hamilton ensured his place in Formula One history after claiming his third successive podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday - then warned his rivals that McLaren are going from strength to strength.

Lewis Hamilton ensured his place in Formula One history after claiming his third successive podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday - then warned his rivals that McLaren are going from strength to strength.

The Briton is writing a new chapter with every race this season and his second-place on the Sakhir circuit means he becomes the first driver to climb the podium in his first three races.

It was also perhaps the closest he has come yet to a maiden victory but in the end Hamilton ran out of laps as Felipe Massa defeated the 22-year-old by 2.3 seconds.

The Brazilian bounced back in style from last week's Malaysia Grand Prix where he let slip his place at the front of the grid to finish fifth.

Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was third, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld claimed fourth while two-time world champion Fernando Alonso took fifth.

It means Hamilton is joint top of the drivers' championship, with Alonso and Raikkonen.

"It is fantastic to be joint points with Fernando and Kimi," he said. "I think the team have done a fantastic job.

"We had very good pace this weekend, possibly the pace to be able to be on pole but Felipe did a fantastic job in qualifying.

"In the race, usually the Ferraris pull away but we generally had similar pace if not quicker.

"We have made fantastic steps forward and I am very happy for the team.

"We are going to be working extremely hard to make sure we make some more steps forward so we can go to Barcelona even quicker."

Hamilton enjoyed another race in which he made few mistakes, although he did struggle to keep the pace on Massa after making his first pit stop.

A third stint in the pit lane rectified that as Hamilton changed to hard tyres and started to make up ground on pole.

David Coulthard was again unable to complete a race but it was disappointing for the Red Bull driver as he had climbed from 21st on grid up to seventh before flames under the car brought an end to his race midway through.

1 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 01hr 33mins 27.515secs, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 01:33:29.515, 3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 01:33:37.523, 4 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 01:33:41.315, 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 01:33:41.519, 6 Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 01:34:12.520. Others: 16 Anthony Davidson (Gbr) Super Aguri at 6 Laps, 18 David Coulthard (Gbr) Red Bull at 21 Laps, 21 Jenson Button (Gbr) Honda at 56 Laps.

Championship Standings: DRIVERS: 1= Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 22pts, Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 22, Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 22.

CONSTRUCTORS: 1 McLaren 44pts, 2 Ferrari 39, 3 BMW Sauber 18.

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