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Practice one - Massa to the fore in France 20 Jun 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 19 June 2008 Honda RA108 bodywork.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 19 June 2008 Alonso suffers possible engine problems

He took pole position here last year, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa got off to a great start this time around with the fastest lap in Friday morning’s opening practice session at Magny-Cours.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen had set the pace, with respective laps of 1m 16.002s and 1m 16.055s, when Massa banged in is 1m 15.306s. His team mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth on 1m 16.073s. These times compared with Massa’s 2007 pole of 1m 15.034s.

While the Brazilian may have made a low fuel run, however, the other three thereafter appeared to focus on routine assessment running rather than trying to match him. Suffice it to say that Ferrari and McLaren seemed evenly matched otherwise.

Robert Kubica was in his habitual 2008 place, chasing them, with 1m 16.377s for BMW Sauber, then came Fernando Alonso for Renault on 1m 16.400s; Jarno Trulli for Toyota on 1m 16.758s; Sebastian Vettel for Toro Rosso on 1m 16.838s; Nick Heidfeld in the second BMW Sauber on 1m 16.870s and Timo Glock in the other Toyota, on 1m 16.886s.

Alonso, however, may need a new engine after his R28 ground to a very smoky halt right at the end of the session. Trulli, meanwhile, had a spin in Turn Five.

Outside the top 10, Nelson Piquet went better than of late with 1m 17.063s in the second Renault, despite a moment at Turn Eight, the Adelaide Hairpin. The Brazilian was chased by the Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber, on 1m 17.234s and 1m 17.269s respectively; Nico Rosberg in the leading Williams on 1m 17.394s; Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, running at home for the first time with the second Toro Rosso on 1m 17.683s; Kazuki Nakajima on 1m 17.696s; and Jenson Button who was again struggling in the second Honda on 1m 17.928s down in 18th.

The two Force Indias brought up the back of the field, Giancarlo Fisichella lapping a chunk quicker than Adrian Sutil (who ran wide at the Adelaide Hairpin), 1m 18.072s to 1m 18.673s.