Ferrari's Massa wins French GP

Updated: 26 June 2008 16:04 IST

Felipe Massa of Ferrari has won the French Grand Prix for his third Formula One victory of the season.


Felipe Massa of Ferrari won the French Grand Prix on Sunday and moved top of the overall standings after his third F1 victory of the season.

Massa overtook teammate and pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen with 32 laps to go and held on to win by 17.9 seconds. It is the second consecutive Ferrari sweep at the Circuit de Nevers.

Massa leads the title race with 48 points _ two points ahead of Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber, who finished fifth. Raikkonen trails Massa by five points in third.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli finished third ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, who had started 10th after a five-place qualifying penalty. Teammate Lewis Hamilton's frustrating day was compounded by an extra penalty that left him out of the points in 10th and the British driver now trails Massa by 10 points.

Massa's eighth victory meant F1 has a new leader for the fourth straight GP.

Raikkonen lost the edge when his tail pipe came undone and Massa passed for Ferrari's eighth win in 12 races at the Circuit de Nevers. The Italians rebounded from poor races at Monaco and Montreal that had robbed it of the early season momentum after four wins in the first five races.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was sixth ahead of Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr., who earned his first F1 points after eight races. Teammate Fernando Alonso, who had started third, rounded the points in eighth.

Teams faced the dilemma of playing it safe and running the wet tires or gambling on dry tires with a light rain sprinkling the countryside track in intervals.

Raikkonen and Massa pulled away on the hard tires with Trulli and Kubica squeezing Alonso back into fifth with quick overtaking moves at the first turn.

Hamilton, eager to get up into the points from 13th, passed Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel at the third corner and got as high as ninth but his impatience was penalized with a drive-through penalty after he went off-course in the maneuver. The 23-year-old driver, who was dropped 10 places on the grid for causing an accident at the preceding Canadian GP, was lapped by Raikkonen after 20 laps.

Massa stayed out longer to try and catch Raikkonen but couldn't make up the four-second gap. World champion Raikkonen had won the 70-lap race last year after overtaking pole sitter Massa on a similar strategy.

Raikkonen was nearly 35 seconds up on Trulli halfway to the checkered flag but the tail pipe problem then cost him with Massa pressuring for an eventual pass.

By the time Massa pitted with 16 laps left, the lead hadn't changed even with light rain. Raikkonen lost the exhaust pipe with nine laps left but Trulli couldn't make up the 21-second difference and was more concerned with the cars behind him, who were pressuring the Italian driver.

Trulli and Kovalainen touched wheels with two laps to go as the Finn attempted a pass but Trulli hung on to steer the Japanese team to its first podium of the season.

Topics : Formula 1 Michael Schumacher Brawn Honda Giancarlo Fisichella Lewis Hamilton Sepang International Circuit McLaren
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