After watching the Qualifying session for the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, it was apparent that Ferrari was answering all the questions raised concerning their lack of dominance as of late. Felipe Massa has been the sole contributor of Ferrari points in the past two races (Monaco, Canada) with finishes of 3rd and 5th respectively. Kimi Raikkonen finished one place out of the points at Monaco and was the victim of a tail-end accident courtesy of Lewis Hamilton who apparently did not realize the parked cars at the Pit Out waiting to be released. Hamilton attempted to steer to avoid an accident, but was unable to resulting in the retirement of himself and Raikkonen leaving the parked BMW of Robert Kubica the remaining car at the Line that would eventually lead to his first career victory with BMW, and the team’s first ever victory as a Constructor, complimented by a story-book 1-2 finish with Nick Heidfeld taking 2nd to Kubica’s 1st place finish.
Every Formula 1 circuit leaves its mark one way or another while also earning a certain reputation each year. Traditionally, Magny-Cours is known for its fast pace and difficulty for passing. This year, it has earned an additional aspect. The final split time of the course occurs just after exiting the final chicane that includes run-off Astroturf in addition to the regulation curbing. It was not unprecedented to see many drivers take advantage of the extra “road” and take the chicane aggressively risking the car to shave a few hundredths of a second off of their time knowing they have a gracious run-off area. FIA answered this by stipulating that cars will be penalized for putting all four wheels on the Astroturf, as was the case during Practice. All drivers adhered to this last minute stipulation though some came close to violating it, taking all four off the asphalt but keeping to the curb, sometimes inches from the asphalt.
Hamilton incurred a 10 grid spot penalty with his pit lane accident at Canada leaving him to start 13th after he qualified 3rd during Morning Qualifying Saturday Morning. Hamilton’s grid position has raised questions of his pit strategy knowing that though he qualified inside the top ten, he is starting outside the top ten. This alteration in grid placement allows him to be free to start with any desired fuel load. This coupled with the circuit’s short pit lane has raised the rumor of a three or even four-stop strategy. Despite qualifying laptimes with margins of thousandths of a second, Ferrari came out on top, locking out front row in Q’s 1, 2, and 3 with Kimi earning Pole position (Ferrari’s 200th Pole) in the end and Massa earning 2nd with qualifying times of 1:16.449 and 1:16.49 respectively. The grid1 is posted in its entirety below.
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull
7. David Coulthard, Red Bull
8. Timo Glock, Toyota
9. Nelson Piquet, Renault
10. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren2
11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
12. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso
13. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren3
14. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso
15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
16. Jenson Button, Honda
17. Rubens Barrichello, Honda
18. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
19. Adrian Sutil, Force India
20. Nico Rosberg, Williams4
1Courtesy of www.formula1.com (Official Formula 1 page)
2Penalized 5 grid spots for blocking Webber on his Qualifying lap while on his own cool down lap (Initially qualified 6th)
3Penalized 10 grid spots for Pit Lane accident at Grand Prix of Canada (Initially qualified 3rd)
4Penalized 10 grid spots for Pit Lane accident at Grand Prix of Canada (Initially qualified 15th)
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