Tight race in Formula One

Three races, three different winners and a three-way tie in the drivers' standings.

It can't get any closer in Formula One now that Michael Schumacher's gone.

After the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, double world champion Fernando Alonso, Schumacher's replacement Kimi Raikkonen, and British rookie Lewis Hamilton all have 22 points.

Felipe Massa, the winner of Sunday's race, has 17.

"The season is really exciting," Massa said after driving his Ferrari to a third career victory. "The championship is very tight and the Ferraris and McLarens are very close together."

McLaren's Alonso and Ferrari's Raikkonen are technically ahead, with each having a victory. Raikkonen won the first race of the season, the Australian GP, then Alonso won in Malaysia last week but placed just fifth in the Bahrain GP.

"In a way I feel happy as we came away with (only) four points and still lead the championship," Alonso said.

Runner-up in his McLaren on Sunday, Hamilton became the first driver in F1 history to place in the top three in his first three races.

"I think it is a fantastic achievement," Hamilton said. "I am extremely proud."

Raikkonen was third at Sakhir and already tuning into a hard-fought series.

"Everybody is very close to one another in every race so it's going to be a difficult season," the Finn said.

Massa finally turned his domination of testing and two consecutive pole positions into his first win of the season.

On a hazy day with swirling winds that changed track conditions, the Brazilian led virtually all the way from the pole, dropping out of first only on the two pits stops.

Massa made mistakes from the pole in the previous race in Malaysia, starting with being overtaken on the first turn. This time he held first through the first turn with Hamilton and Alonso trailing.

"The best race is to get a good start," Massa said. "And to finish in the front."

After 10 laps, Massa led by about a second over Hamilton, and Alonso was holding off Raikkonen.

There were no changes among the top eight until the first pit stops but by lap 25 Massa increased his lead to nearly six seconds over Hamilton, and Raikkonen had taken over third from Alonso.

Massa led by more than eight seconds from Hamilton by the 30th lap with Raikkonen still 10 seconds back, and Alonso fading.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld then passed Alonso on lap 32 with a neat move on the outside.

After the second pit stops, Massa cruised to victory by 2.360 seconds over Hamilton.

Raikkonen ended up 10.8 seconds back in third, and Heidfeld was fourth for the third consecutive race with Alonso running out of laps to overtake him.

After races in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, the series moves to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova