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Massa dominates first practice at Spa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Spa, 2008Felipe Massa maintained his recent strong form by dominating Friday morning practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen took second, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen third and fourth for McLaren.

Massa was fastest for the majority of the morning at an overcast but dry Spa-Francorchamps, setting the first flying lap of the weekend and then repeatedly improving his time as his first run progressed.

Raikkonen had a more leisurely start to his Spa weekend and then spoiled his first effort with a mistake at La Source, but he eventually got down to a 1:48.075 to usurp Massa at the top of the times as the session approached its halfway point.

But Raikkonen's period in front was brief, as Massa lapped in 1:47.813 six minutes later to reclaim first position, where he would stay despite improvements by both his teammate and Hamilton - the latter beating the Ferraris' times in the middle sector when on soft tyres but losing out in the other two-thirds of the lap.

Massa also switch to soft tyres for his final run and found even more time, improving to first a 1:47.369 then 1:47.284 to cement his position as the opening practice pace-setter.

Raikkonen ended up 0.339 seconds adrift after his own last outing, with Hamilton having to settle for third after an error at La Source. The Briton had earlier taken a trip through the gravel at Les Combes.

Renault's Fernando Alonso was the nearest challenger to the title contenders throughout the session and ended up fifth behind Kovalainen.

Mark Webber leapt from the midfield to sixth for Red Bull with his last lap of the session, pushing the Toro Rossos down the order.

The junior Red Bull squad again showed promising speed, with Sebastien Bourdais taking sixth and Sebastian Vettel seventh - the latter escaping some wild sideways slides and a few trips over the run-off areas.

Bourdais' morning then came to a strange end when his car ground to a halt on the exit of La Source as he tried to return to the pits after the post-session practice starts.

Toyota's Timo Glock and Renault's Nelson Piquet completed the top ten, as BMW had a disappointing morning. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld only managed 11th and 12th, with Kubica complaining bitterly about his car's performance over the radio.

Others in trouble included Jarno Trulli, whose Toyota was kept in the pits by an electrical problem for much of the session, and Honda - as Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello ended the session slowest of all.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time              Laps
 1.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:47.284            26
 2.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:47.623  + 0.339   26
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:47.878  + 0.594   27
 4.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:47.932  + 0.648   24
 5.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:48.104  + 0.820   26
 6.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:48.428  + 1.144   29
 7.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:48.557  + 1.273   31
 8.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:48.958  + 1.674   24
 9.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:48.997  + 1.713   26
10.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:49.068  + 1.784   25
11.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:49.139  + 1.855   25
12.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:49.185  + 1.901   26
13.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:49.611  + 2.327   30
14.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:49.625  + 2.341   14
15.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:49.849  + 2.565   18
16.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:49.986  + 2.702   27
17.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:50.117  + 2.833   19
18.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:50.125  + 2.841   30
19.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:50.464  + 3.180   25
20.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:50.905  + 3.621   25


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