Ferrari desperate to halt Brawn in Turkey

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The Independent Online

The Turkish Grand Prix offers Ferrari a chance to prove they are ready to challenge Brawn GP and put the brakes on Jenson Button's drive for the Formula One championship.

Ferrari are well-positioned to fight for the podium following a 3-4 finish at Monaco and Felipe Massa's dominance in Turkey. The Brazilian driver can become the fifth driver to win at the same track for four years running with a victory in Sunday's 58-lap race.

Kimi Raikkonen was feeling bullish on Wednesday about the Italians' continued rebound from their worst start ever with his podium at Monaco.

"This year Brawn GP ... are the favorites but we are going to reach them," Raikkonen wrote on his website. "If we continue giving 100 per cent and pressing we will be closer, if not ahead of them."

The Formula One circuit would welcome a Ferrari revival since it would mean another challenger for Brawn GP, which was formed from the remnants of the Honda team after the Japanese manufacturer pulled out after the 2008 season. The new team has dominated the series and leads the constructors standings by 43.5 points from Red Bull.

Teams will arrive at the circuit that sits on the Asian side of the Bosphorus strait with a variety of upgrades, notably aerodynamics and front and rear suspension to deal with the track's mix of speeds and tricky corners.

Button, who has won five times in six races, leads teammate Rubens Barrichello by 16 points after six races, with the next closest challenger Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who trails Button by 28 points.

"I think we are looking very strong for the next few races," said Button, before deflecting a question about his title hopes.

"You are sort of putting a bit of negative energy in there and saying it is mine to lose. I wouldn't put it like that. I am 16 points in the lead and I have more of an advantage than others to win the championship," he said. "But it is all to play for. It is not mine to lose, for sure."

This season's new aerodynamic regulations have shaken up the starting grid and left the perennial favorites littered at the back of the pack.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and 2007 champion Raikkonen are 42 points behind Button, while two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Renault is 40 back.

Renault team principal Flavio Briatore said the championship was already over after the season-opening Australian GP due to the use by several teams, including Brawn, of a new aerodynamic part.

Although Briatore promised a big improvement for Istanbul, Alonso remained skeptical.

"We'll introduce some new pieces at Turkey, but I think everyone will maintain the same level, more or less, because everyone will introduce something," the Spaniard said. "I don't think things will change from here to the end of the season."

Barrichello is hoping to pick up his first win since the Chinese GP in 2004, but the high-speed track favors Ferrari because it is using the KERS overtaking system that Brawn and Red Bull haven't put in their cars.

Red Bull, meanwhile, knows its championship hopes could be on the line after Vettel crashed out at Monaco.

"This is an important race in the championship and our target is to challenge the Brawns, who have had a remarkable run so far," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who was taking Ferrari's improvement seriously.

"I think we can expect them to play a key role this weekend, especially as it's a race they've won for the past three years."