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Hamilton fastest in third practice - France

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton beat Ferrari's Felipe Massa to the fastest time in the final free practice session for the French Grand Prix.

At the same time, Hamilton's teammate Fernando Alonso ended up only eighth after mechanical problems forced him to miss all bar the last two minutes of the hour.

Kimi Raikkonen took third in the second Ferrari, ahead of the two Renaults.

The session was briefly interrupted after 25 minutes when a section of grass from the inside of the final chicane became detached and was dragged onto the circuit. A seven-minute red flag stoppage was required while the debris was removed.

Raikkonen was the only one of the top four drivers who managed to complete a final lap before the red flag. 

Massa immediately claimed the top spot when the session resumed, beating his teammate by 0.203 seconds and then finding another 0.015 seconds on his second lap.

Ten minutes later, Massa came back out to raise the bar again, lapping in 1:15.031 and pulling four tenths of a second clear of the field.

Hamilton briefly moved into second before Raikkonen reclaimed the place two minutes later. The Finn then set a new fastest first sector time on his next lap, but encountered Alex Wurz at the Chateau d'Eau and abandoned the run.

Then with five minutes to go, Hamilton switched to the softer compound and went fastest, lapping in 1:14.843. Massa responded and improved his best time, but remained 0.063 seconds adrift.

Apart from an early installation lap, Alonso remained in the McLaren garage throughout all of this action, with the mechanics working on his car.

He finally joined the session in the final two minutes, and only managed a single flying lap. He was classified eighth, 0.899 seconds behind his teammate.

Heikki Kovalainen was closest to the top three for the majority of the session and took fourth, half a second off the pace, and a tenth ahead of Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh, ahead of the troubled Alonso. Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard completed the top ten.

Vitantonio Liuzzi and Jenson Button had run as high as fifth in the middle of the session, but as others improved in the final rush, the Toro Rosso and Honda were pushed down to 11th and 12th respectively.

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time              Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:14.843            8
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            (B)  1:14.906 + 0.063   16
 3.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            (B)  1:15.276 + 0.433   15
 4.  Kovalainen    Renault            (B)  1:15.404 + 0.561   19
 5.  Fisichella    Renault            (B)  1:15.489 + 0.646   20
 6.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         (B)  1:15.535 + 0.692   20
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:15.735 + 0.892   18
 8.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:15.742 + 0.899    4
 9.  Trulli        Toyota             (B)  1:15.801 + 0.958   19
10.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:15.802 + 0.959   15
11.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:15.872 + 1.029   22
12.  Button        Honda              (B)  1:15.902 + 1.059   16
13.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:15.925 + 1.082   20
14.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             (B)  1:15.944 + 1.101   22
15.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         (B)  1:16.060 + 1.217   18
16.  Barrichello   Honda              (B)  1:16.102 + 1.259   19
17.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:16.104 + 1.261   16
18.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:16.161 + 1.318   18
19.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:16.221 + 1.378   18
20.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:16.573 + 1.730   14
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:17.517 + 2.674   21
22.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:17.705 + 2.862   23

All timing unofficial
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