Felipe Massa was the only Ferrari driver to see the chequered flag at the end of a Belgian Grand Prix that saved most of its excitement for the final handful of laps.
The Brazilian Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver was classified second at first, but inherited the win, as Lewis Hamilton, first past the flag was given a penalty for passing Raikkonen by cutting the chicane, which drops him to third behind second placed Nick Heidfeld. Kimi Raikkonen had made a brilliant start in his F2008 from fourth on the grid, to swallow up Kovalainen, his team-mate Massa and pole man Hamilton by lap 2. From then on, the man who has won the last three races here controlled the race, only losing the lead during the two pit stop runs.
However, with a couple of laps remaining, rain threw the race into confusion and in a controversial move, Hamilton cut the chicane to go into the lead. Shortly after that, trying to regain the lead, the Ferrari man spun and ended his race in the barrier. Hamilton still heads the Drivers' classification but is now only 2 points ahead of Felipe. Ferrari still heads the Constructors' championship, as the series heads to Monza next weekend for the Italian Grand Prix.
It had rained on and off throughout the morning and the majority of cars went out onto the grid on rain tyres, but with the clouds moving off, the switch to dry weather rubber began before the start, with Felipa Massa in second place alongside pole sitter, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in the other F2008 lining up behind his team-mate, with Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren-Mercedes as his neighbour. All runners were on the softer of the two types of tyre, apart from Piquet's Renault that was fitted with the harder ones.
Hamilton got a good start from pole, but Felipe was a bit slow away, allowing Kimi, who had got the better of Kovalainen, to pass him on the straight, with Bourdais briefly fourth before being passed Alonso. Kimi was flying and took the lead, while Kovalainen spun at La Source hairpin.
After five of the 44 laps had been completed, Kimi led Hamilton by 1.1 seconds with Felipe 3.5 behind the Englishman. Fourth was Alonso, followed by Bourdais, Webber, Kubica, Kovalainen, Piquet and Heidfeld completing the top ten. Eleventh was Vettel, followed by Glock, Rosberg, Trulli, Barrichello, Sutil, Coulthard, Button and Nakajima. Fisichella was last. On lap 9, Kovalainen and Vettel both moved up a place to seventh and tenth respectively.
Out in front, Hamilton was 1.2 behind Kimi and Massa was 5.5 behind in third. Kovalainen's charge up the order after his spin got a set back when he tried to go down the inside of Webber, spinning the Australian around. The Finn was given a drive-through penalty for causing the accident. Hamilton was the first to pit, stopping for 6.8 seconds on lap 11 and Kimi came in next time round, for a 7.1 stop. Felipe came in on lap 13 (7.6 seconds.) Bourdais pitted from second place on lap 15, coming out just ahead of Kubica who had also come in on the same lap. Vettel was the last of the leading bunch to refuel on lap 17, so that one lap later the order was now, Kimi, 5.7 ahead of Hamilton, Felipe in third at a distance of 9.5 from his team-mate, followed by Alonso, Bourdais, Kubica, Vettel and Heidfeld in the last of the points scoring postions, eighth. Kimi then put in a fastest race lap to extend his advantage to 6.1s.
The two leaders made their final pit stops together on lap 25, the McLaren man's marginally shorter than the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver, but Kimi was still ahead, although Felipe was the temporary race leader. Alonso brought his Renault in from fourth place on lap 27 and Felipe came in next time round, stopping for 7.9. The meant the Kimi was back at the head of the field, but his lead over Hamilton had been reduced to 2.4 and then 1.9 on lap 29, with Felipe 4.1 further back in third, all three of them now doing the obligatory race stint on the harder Bridgestone tyre. Bourdais pitted from fourth on lap 32, while the gaps between the top three barely changed as the race came down to its final ten laps. Kubica came in on lap 33 as did Vettel, the German overtaking the Pole, by beating him out of pit lane.
So with ten laps to go the order was Kimi still leading, with a 2.2 advantage over Hamilton, while Felipe trailed by 3.3. Alonso was fourth and with Bourdais and Vettel fifth and sixth respectively in the Toro Rosso cars, it meant Ferrari had four engines in the top six.
With 6 laps remaining a few drops of rain began to fall, but not enough to require rain tyres and one lap later the gaps at the front were 0.9 between Kimi and Hamilton, with Felipe 6 behind, but comfortably 33.5 ahead of fourth placed Alonso.
But with two laps to go, Hamilton closed right up to Kimi and got past him but only by cutting across the chicane. Kimi was in front again going past the pits but again Hamilton got ahead. Further down the road, Rosberg was recovering from a spin, Hamilton braked very heavily and Kimi nearly got the upper hand again, but moments later, the Finn spun off and his race ended in the barriers. He was classified eighteenth.
The McLaren man was first past the flag, followed by Felipe and the BMW of Nick Heidfeld, who had stopped to change onto intermediate rain tyres. Also adopting this tactic was Alonso and it helped the Renault man to move up to fourth, ahead of Vettel and Kubica who both managed to get ahead of Bourdais, who suffered the most of this group in the difficult conditions. The remaining point went to Timo Glock until he was penalised for overtaking under yellow flags, handing the point to Mark Webber. Then Hamilton was penalised by the Stewards which handed the victory to Felipe.