F1 Grand Prix Of France

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Massa wins Grand Prix of France

Jun 22, 2008 - 4:17 PM MAGNY-COURS, France (Ticker) -- Felipe Massa took over the lead in the Formula One championship Sunday after winning the French Grand Prix.

In taking a checkered flag for the third time this season and eighth time in his career, Massa became the first Brazlian to top the driver's standings since his hero Ayrton Senna led the way 15 years ago.

Massa leads an enthralling four-way title race by two points over BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, and is five in front of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second Sunday at the the Circuit de Nevers.

Raikkonen, the world champion who won at Magny-Cours last year, started from the pole and led until being overtaken by Massa just after the halfway mark when his car slowed with a suspected exhaust problem.

"It was fantastic. I didn't expect that," Massa said. "Today we had an element of luck because of (Raikkonen's damaged) exhaust. I think we are going in the right direction.

Jarno Trulli of Italy held of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen to finish third, giving Toyota its first podium finish since the Australian Grand Prix in 2006. Poland's Robert Kubica was fifth.

"What a great result and a great weekend by the whole team," Trulli said. "We were pushing really hard because we wanted to dedicate this result to )recently deceased head of Toyota's F1 program) Ove Andersson, who has done so much for Toyota Motorsport."

However, the story of Formula One continues to be the tight race at the top.

Massa, who is the fourth driver to take the lead in the last eight races, has 48 points to Kubica's 46. Raikkonen is lurking with 43 points.

"I was on pole and leading quite easily and then I had problem with the car," Raikkonen said. "That happens sometimes. We were still lucky to finish the race and score eight points. On the last couple of laps the car almost stopped a few times. Two more laps and we would have not finished the race. So, even if it's disappointing not to win I still took eight points and I am in a more confident position in the championship."

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who started 13th after a 10-grid penalty, endured more troubles Sunday. The Brit endured a drive-through penalty early on and finished 10th, dropping 10 behinds back of Massa.

Hamilton, who had been level with Massa on points, was handed the grid penalty after colliding with Raikkonen in the Canadian GP pit lane.

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