Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Comments on the French GP

After the debacle that was the US Grand Prix, anticipation was high for this race. Held at the historic Magny-Cours, the veritable back yard of Michelin, the race had a strong supporting cast in the stands. It's also the home of Renault so it was serendipity that Fernando Alonso took poll. Ferrari had it's highest grid position of the year when Michael drove to the second row in P3. The other bit of pre-race intrigue was that Kimi qualified his McLaren-Mercedes at P3 but, because he blew an engine in testing, had to start 10 places back in P13. Jarno Trulli started his Toyota on P2 and that would play a significant factor in the race. At the start the Renault's had their customary rocket-like starts and Alonso used it to build up a huge lead in the first stint of the race. Michael, and the rest of the field, were being held up by Jarno, who was lapping a good 2 seconds slower than Alonso. After the first wave of pit stops, Michael had worked free and brought his car into P2, still miles behind Alonso. But as amazing as Alonso was Kimi was putting on a clinic. Working a 2 stop strategy (most of the field was on 3 stoppers) he charged up the field out-lapping Alonso and, with a much heaver full load, was able to come out of his first stop ahead of Michael in P2. These three would finish in the same position as the only cars on the lead lap. And if the race had about 5 more laps to it Alonso would have lapped Michael as well. Kimi finished 12 seconds back but that was as much Alonso coasting the last few laps than anything else. Michael had mixed feelings in that it was Ferrari's first podium in a real F1 race but coming in 1:22 behind the winner isn't exactly something to write home about.

Renault might have had a better result if Giancarlo Fisichella hadn't run into his monkey again. The bad luck that he's having is reminiscent of what Rubens Barrichello was living with a few seasons ago. After winning the first race Giancarlo's season has been this; Ret, Ret, Ret, 5th, 12th, 6th, Ret, Ret, 6th. He got 10 points in Australia and then 10 more combined over the next 8 races. One of the guys in the Speed Channel commented that some culture feels the number 6 is bad luck. You can guess what number Giancarlo's car is.

Now it's on the Silverstone next Sunday.

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