France 2008: Ferrari give Hamilton the ol' 1-2.

Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen delivered Ferrari an unchallenged one-two finish in the 2008 French Grand Prix - much as they had done this time last year, albeit the other way round - whilst further down the field the story was all about how Lewis Hamilton's season is threatening to fly off the rails in much the same way as the McLaren-Mercedes ace flew off the track in Magny-Cours.

Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen delivered Ferrari an unchallenged one-two finish in the 2008 French Grand Prix - much as they had done this time last year, albeit the other way round - whilst further down the field the story was all about how Lewis Hamilton's season is threatening to fly off the rails in much the same way as the McLaren-Mercedes ace flew off the track in Magny-Cours.

With rain menacing ahead of the start, all eyes on the skies, a somewhat topsy-turvy grid and both McLaren drivers beginning somewhat further down than expected, the scene was set for fireworks - and by Magny-Cours standards at least, the race in some measure lived up to that promise.

As Raikkonen held station over Massa when the lights went out, a fast-starting Jarno Trulli out-dragged Fernando Alonso from row two, with Robert Kubica also getting past the Spaniard for good measure, Timo Glock flying off the fourth row to slot into sixth place and the tardy Red Bull Racing machines of Mark Webber and David Coulthard both losing ground.

Further down the order, Hamilton put a move on Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel for twelfth, and though he flew off the track straight afterwards, absolutely on the ragged edge, he retained the place - though the Briton would later find himself under investigation by the race stewards for his troubles.

Further back still, Jenson Button was assaulted from behind by one of the Force Indias - and would subsequently have to pit for a new front wing to complete his misery - whilst Alonso regained fourth position from Kubica later around the opening lap when the Pole ran briefly wide in attempting to find a way by Trulli, and the Renault star would go on to chase down his former team-mate ahead.

The two McLarens, meanwhile, were tucked up behind eighth-placed Nelsinho Piquet, with an increasingly aggressive and ragged-looking Hamilton nudging the back of his Finnish team-mate, as over-ambition perhaps got the better of him in his desperate efforts to make his way up through the order following the grid penalty meted out to him for his Montreal misdemeanour.

As Kovalainen found himself unable to battle his way past Piquet - the young Brazilian rookie enjoying by some margin his best race of the season to-date, and certainly enjoying strong straight-line speed - Hamilton was allowed by on lap five at the Adelaide hairpin to see what he could do about his former GP2 Series title rival.

With the two Ferraris pulling away at a rate of knots - Raikkonen 2.6 seconds clear of Massa at the end of lap seven, though believed to be running somewhat lighter on fuel - third-placed Trulli was beginning to peg Alonso's pace, albeit some 5.6 seconds adrift of the two scarlet machines.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was continuing to lock up in his scrappy efforts to pass Piquet, and ultimately proving no more successful in doing so than had been Kovalainen as his pace languished some two seconds a lap shy of the two Ferraris, Raikkonen now almost five seconds to the good at the head of the field.

To make matters worse still, the news McLaren had been dreading came shortly afterwards, when the race stewards confirmed a drive-through penalty for car #22 for missing the apex of turn 17 and having been deemed to have gained an advantage from so doing. As Hamilton pitted almost straightaway to serve the penalty, he rejoined down in 13th place, just ahead of Kazuki Nakajima and S?bastien Bourdais, though the latter's rear wing would subsequently start to disintegrate, a legacy of opening lap contact with Button which would ultimately see the luckless Honda star become the race's first - and incredibly only - retiree.

Alonso was the first to blink - electing to switch over from a three-stop strategy to a two-stopper in the process - which saw the 26-year-old rejoin the fray just ahead of the increasingly frustrated Hamilton, who must have been getting rather tired by now of staring at the rear wings of Renaults. That much was indeed evinced when Alonso ran wide, and as his former team-mate and sworn rival dived past, he gave the Spaniard a sideswipe, though seemingly without damage to either car.

Trulli and Kubica came in together for their pit-stops, rejoining in the same order in the battle over what was effectively third place, as did the two runaway Ferraris, Raikkonen seeming to have matters all under control and Massa getting baulked on his 'in' lap - and getting flustered into the bargain.

One of the main beneficiaries of the first round of stops was Webber - who leapfrogged Alonso - whilst Kovalainen finally cleared Piquet after the Brazilian struggled to get any acceleration on the pit-lane exit, though both would gain a further spot by getting out ahead of Glock.

Down in 16th position, Hamilton made his way past the similarly delayed Nico Rosberg towards the back of the field, with Sebastian Vettel - like BMW's Nick Heidfeld, yet to pit - pressuring Trulli in fourth place. Following the German's stop, world championship leader Kubica closed onto the back of the Toyota too, Trulli - much like team-mate Glock, now out of the points - looking to be struggling somewhat in his middle stint, whilst there was worse news still for Webber, who spun away fifth place and handed it back to Alonso once more.

With the halfway point of the race approaching and rain threatening again, Massa began taking chunks out of Raikkonen's lead, reducing it to just 3.2 seconds 36 laps in as the Finn lapped amongst the slowest cars on-track and his Brazilian team-mate kept the hammer firmly down.

By lap 38 Massa was right with Raikkonen, with the 2007 champion suffering a broken exhaust pipe and losing as much as 50-60bhp, and as the backmarkers began to close onto the back of the ailing Ferrari, Massa was released, with the bodywork on Raikkonen's car beginning to burn up and the main question now being whether the 28-year-old could make the chequered flag - or else face the agony of three consecutive DNFs.

Behind the scarlet duo, the battle raged on between Trulli and Kubica for the final podium position, the Pole now less than a second behind, whilst a brave move around the outside of the Adelaide hairpin, cutting back to the inside on the exit, saw Kovalainen steal sixth spot away from Webber and set off after fifth-placed Alonso. The latter, indeed, pitted shortly afterwards to go onto the softer tyres - for a full 28 laps - and rejoined, once again, just in front of Hamilton...

The McLaren dived past down the inside of the Adelaide hairpin with 23 laps left to run, whilst Kovalainen in the sister MP4-23 was closing onto the back of the flagging Trulli, just seven seconds now separating the pair following Kubica's second pit-stop.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, seemed to have found a way to manage his exhaust problem, stabilising his pace just a few tenths adrift of that of the chasing Trulli. The Italian was in fact next to pit and, following a superb job from his Toyota crew, rejoined comfortably in front of Kubica, though with the charging Kovalainen still to make his stop with 19 laps left to run.

A quick second stop from the McLaren boys enabled Kovalainen to leapfrog Kubica to gain fourth place, and leave the Finn with 17 laps remaining to chase down and pass Trulli for the final rostrum position - on the same track where the former Monaco Grand Prix winner so famously gave away third place to Rubens Barrichello in the Ferrari in the race's final corner back in the process effectively giving away his Renault contract for the following year too.

With 14 laps left to run, only 3.5 seconds separated the Toyota and McLaren, whilst further back Alonso was pressing Webber hard for sixth place, with the much-improved Piquet a mere 2.5 seconds behind the pair of them. Hamilton flew by Glock on the straight for tenth place - with Coulthard next in his sights, just 1.6 seconds ahead, and the final world championship point only ten seconds further up the road.

As the rain began to fall and cars started sliding around a bit more, Kovalainen and Kubica were both right with Trulli, who had the prospect of ten laps left to run with two significantly faster cars now crawling all over the back of him. Scrabbling around for mechanical grip, the Italian found himself fighting a frantic rearguard action on worn tyres, whilst Raikkonen's exhaust finally flew off and Webber now found himself under attack from both Renaults.

With five laps remaining, Trulli was continuing to gamely hold on around a track he knows intimately from his Prost days, though Kovalainen was still pushing extremely hard as the pair inched away slightly from Kubica. With the rain re-starting three laps from home, Kovalainen renewed his attack and Trulli's car was looking more nervous than ever - and the tension mounted.

In the tussle over sixth place, Alonso out-braked himself into Adelaide, allowing Piquet to get past his team-mate, and though the Brazilian would subsequently do the same thing only a handful of corners later, he held onto the spot.

There was yet more drama, however, as Kovalainen got right alongside Trulli on the penultimate lap in the same place where Hamilton had earlier controversially passed Vettel, and as the Finn similarly found himself rapidly running out of room, he was forced to run off-piste and a relieved Trulli retained the place.

As Massa motored on to comfortably take the chequered flag first, Raikkonen brought his wounded F2008 home just under 18 seconds behind to seal the runner-up spot and score his first points in three grands prix, albeit not quite as many as he had been hoping to.

A delighted and emotional Trulli undoubtedly stole the 'Driver of the Day' accolade by holding off Kovalainen and Kubica all the way to the chequered flag - the Pole surrendering his championship lead to Massa by two points - and in so doing paid fitting tribute to the late Ove Andersson, who died last week in a rallying accident at the age of 70. The Swede would unquestionably have been very proud indeed.

Behind them Webber made it six points finishes from eight races in 2008 by holding onto sixth place - partly thanks to the two Renaults battling each other over the race's closing laps - with Piquet not only taking the first points of his F1 career in seventh, but beating double world champion team-mate Alonso into the bargain, a result that will no doubt do the 22-year-old's confidence the world of good.

Coulthard came home just outside the points in ninth place - although barely ten seconds adrift of team-mate Webber - with Hamilton a frustrated tenth. The erstwhile world championship pace-setter was left afterwards to count the true cost of his Canadian Grand Prix calamity, an error that has seen him now slip to ten points off the lead in the drivers' standings, with Ferrari looking to have a distinct advantage and, heading to the Briton's backyard of Silverstone in a fortnight's time, seeking to drive that point home with interest.

To see the race result in full, click here

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