Massa edges Hamilton in first practice

Felipe Massa beat his title rival Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time in opening practice at Interlagos, after a very close battle between the championship combatants

Massa edges Hamilton in first practice

It was McLaren driver Hamilton who held the advantage for most of the session, which took place on a mostly dry track occasionally made slippery by drizzle, before Massa's Ferrari edged ahead by 0.190 seconds in the closing minutes.

The title contenders remained in the garages for the first half of the session, allowing the Toro Rossos, Renault's Nelson Piquet and Toyota's Timo Glock to lead the way early on.

But once the front-runners emerged, it was Hamilton who got up to speed fastest, quickly putting in a 1:12.495 to move to the head of the times.

Massa appeared to lack the McLaren's first lap pace, but edged ever closer - narrowing Hamilton's advantage first to 0.193 seconds, then 0.062, 0.047 and eventually 0.014 seconds.

With the light but persistent spots of rain starting to make the track treacherous, it looked like Massa might have to settle for a tantalisingly close second place, but the Brazilian then threw in a 1:12.305 on his final run to beat Hamilton by nearly two tenths of a second.

The Briton was unable to respond, locking his brakes and flat-spotting a tyre on his next flying lap.

Raikkonen, who had a quick spin when the track was at its slickest, was just 0.012 seconds slower than Hamilton in third place, with BMW's Robert Kubica pushing Hamilton's McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen back to fifth.

Renault duo Fernando Alonso and Piquet took sixth and eighth, split by Red Bull's Mark Webber, as the final top ten spots fell to Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Glock.

Pos  Driver       Car                       Time               Laps
 1.  Massa        Ferrari              (B)  1:12.305           24
 2.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:12.495  + 0.190  23
 3.  Raikkonen    Ferrari              (B)  1:12.507  + 0.202  18
 4.  Kubica       BMW Sauber           (B)  1:12.874  + 0.569  24
 5.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:12.925  + 0.620  20
 6.  Alonso       Renault              (B)  1:13.061  + 0.756  25
 7.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:13.298  + 0.993  24
 8.  Piquet       Renault              (B)  1:13.378  + 1.073  39
 9.  Heidfeld     BMW Sauber           (B)  1:13.426  + 1.121  28
10.  Glock        Toyota               (B)  1:13.466  + 1.161  33
11.  Trulli       Toyota               (B)  1:13.600  + 1.295  24
12.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:13.621  + 1.316  23
13.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:13.649  + 1.344  30
14.  Barrichello  Honda                (B)  1:13.676  + 1.371  28
15.  Button       Honda                (B)  1:13.766  + 1.461  13
16.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:13.806  + 1.501  24
17.  Vettel       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:13.836  + 1.531  30
18.  Coulthard    Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:13.861  + 1.556  19
19.  Sutil        Force India-Ferrari  (B)  1:14.704  + 2.399  21
20.  Fisichella   Force India-Ferrari  (B)  1:14.821  + 2.516  21

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