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Ferrari dominate first practice - France

The Ferrari team seemed to be back on form after a dominant display in the opening practice session for the French Grand Prix.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who has struggled for pace in recent races, topped the timesheets with a best lap of 1:15.382, beating teammate Felipe Massa by 0.065 seconds as the Italian squad were the only ones to lap the Magny-Cours circuit in less than 76 seconds.

World champion Fernando Alonso was the quickest McLaren driver, over seven tenths of a second slower than Raikkonen's time. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished down in sixth position after his running was cut short due to some car trouble.

Hamilton, winner of the last two Grands Prix, managed just three laps before his car came to a stop some 20 minutes into the session. The car was taken back to the pits halfway through the session and the Briton was able to return to action with over half an hour left to run. He eventually managed 20 laps.

"The engine protection system kicked in because the engine was too cool," explained a spokesman for McLaren's partners Mercedes. "We have changed the level of temperature and everything is okay."

Nico Rosberg continued showing promising form with the Williams, the German posting the fourth quickest time ahead of Scot David Coulthard. The Red Bull Racing driver, who was very unhappy with his car's balance early in the session, benefited from some set-up changes to complete a good start to his weekend.

Pole Robert Kubica returned to Formula One action following his horrific crash in Montreal. Kubica completed just an installation lap early on before spending several minutes in the pits. He eventually returned to the track with half an hour left to go.

The Honda team, using their heavily updated car for the first time during a Grand Prix weekend, were unable to show improved form, with Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button finishing down in 13th and 14th positions respectively.

Spyker's Adrian Sutil also lost valuable time in the pits after early problems meant he could only manage three laps before he was able to come back out with less than half an hour of the session to run. The German finished at the bottom of the times after just 15 laps.

The session stayed dry during the 90 minutes, despite some threatening clouds covering the track in the final moments. 

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time               Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            (B)  1:15.382            22
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            (B)  1:15.447  + 0.065   22
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:16.154  + 0.772   19
 4.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:16.214  + 0.832   24
 5.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:16.268  + 0.886   24
 6.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:16.277  + 0.895   20
 7.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         (B)  1:16.338  + 0.956   25
 8.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:16.407  + 1.025   23
 9.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         (B)  1:16.441  + 1.059   19
10.  Trulli        Toyota             (B)  1:16.603  + 1.221   26
11.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:16.895  + 1.513   32
12.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:16.967  + 1.585   22
13.  Barrichello   Honda              (B)  1:16.990  + 1.608   25
14.  Button        Honda              (B)  1:17.047  + 1.665   24
15.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:17.103  + 1.721   33
16.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:17.166  + 1.784   26
17.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             (B)  1:17.168  + 1.786   26
18.  Fisichella    Renault            (B)  1:17.226  + 1.844   20
19.  Kovalainen    Renault            (B)  1:17.348  + 1.966   21
20.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:17.435  + 2.053   26
21.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:18.178  + 2.796   28
22.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:18.419  + 3.037   15

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