The French Grand Prix has been held at the Circuit de Nevers Mangy-Cours since 1991.
The fairly flat circuit, with its many sweeping bends such as Estoril and the numerous chicanes at turns 7, 12 and 16 have almost always favoured the Ferrari with seven wins in the past 10 races at the circuit.
This is bad news for the McLaren crew, who have only won once at Mangy-Cours in its 17-year history, courtesy of David Coulthard in 2000.
With Heikki Kovalainen currently struggling to keep the silver arrow in the Top Five, and Lewis Hamilton being served a 10-place grid penalty after an unexpected crash in Canada, the team have everything play for.
Mangy-Cours history isn’t in favour of a miraculous win by Hamilton, or Kovalainen. However in 2006, Michael Schumacher managed to win the Grand Prix with a four-stop strategy, due to the changes in 2003, which made the pit lane much shorter.
Also in 2003, Rubens Barrichello made up seven places to finish third from his 10th-`place starting position. Could this give hope to Hamilton and a podium finish?
I would expect McLaren to run Lewis on a three-stopper, in the hope a lighter fuel load will allow him to qualify on pole (11th after penalty) and make up some key positions early in the race. We have all seen the speed the McLaren has had recently, and I predict Lewis can grab a podium finish if all goes well.
French Grand Prix Prediction:
1st - Raikkonen
2nd - Kovalainen
3rd - Hamilton
4th - Massa
5th - Kubica
6th - Heidfeld
7th - Trulli
8th - Webber