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DATE News (chronologically)
04/16/07
f1
F1 'small guys' can fight for title  (GMM)  After finishing first and second in Bahrain on Sunday, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton insist that they are genuine championship challengers.

Former triple world champion Niki Lauda pointed out after the race that both of Ferrari and McLaren's "small guys" had simply driven better at Sakhir than their more highly paid and rated teammates.

It raised the interesting question about the drivers' championship, and the obvious fact that a team supporting one driver more than the other usually has a better chance of beating its opponent.

Massa, whose new teammate Kimi Raikkonen replaced Ferrari's undisputed 'number one' Michael Schumacher in 2007, reckons that winning in Bahrain would not have swayed a decision about which of the Ferrari pair will enjoy the role later this year.

"I think we will not see any decision until the championship is almost done," said the Brazilian, "so I think the team has to work like we are doing now with both drivers, trying to put both cars in front of McLaren."

The message out of McLaren, however, was even clearer, as sensational rookie Lewis Hamilton made history by becoming the first ever driver to finish his first three grands prix on the podium.

Asked if he has the same chance as world champion teammate Fernando Alonso to go for the ultimate prize, he said on Sunday: "Yeah, absolutely, I don't see why not.

"I have the same car and I seem to be as competitive as him, (and) I feel a lot more comfortable now that a win is going to be possible."

After the 22-year-old genuinely outperformed Alonso in Bahrain, McLaren's chief executive Martin Whitmarsh agreed that Hamilton is "now a serious title challenger".

"He'll want to go better now and win a race," Whitmarsh added.  "I don't think anybody doubts that he will do that this season."

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