If you’re heading to Magny-Cours for the Grand Prix, be an optimist and take an umbrella. Rain is the only thing that can create racing around here.
Will this be the last French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours? Bernie Ecclestone wants to see the back of the Circuit Nevers.
The French race has great prestige – the first ever Grand Prix was held in France in 1906. But Magny-Cours is a dull circuit with little room for overtaking. What’s your top three prediction for round eight of the F1 championship?
Hopefully the intriguing championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will liven up this year’s race.
Whatever strategies the team gives its drivers could be what determines which one gets to win the race. Fernando Alonso thought he could take a little more fuel into qualifying in America and still beat Lewis Hamilton – and that was what decided the race.
That fact was inescapably obvious when Alonso tried to pass Hamilton but hit the rev limiter on his Mercedes engine. The 2007 rules have made overtaking even harder this year.
Qualifying will be fascinating.
After two strong results in a row Heikki Kovalainen now reckons Renault have found more speed during the latest test at Silverstone. The Finn is finally starting to get on terms with Giancarlo Fisichella – we could have another inter-team battle on our hands.
Renault, too, are coming within range of BMW and setting up a fight for third in the constructors’ championship. But they still don’t look like taking a win on merit this year.
Ferrari seemed a lot closer to McLaren at Indianapolis than Montreal, and since the Felipe Massa has said he thinks the team are in much better shape heading into the European races.
But everyone will be watching the team closely for signs that its legal action against Nigel Stepney will cause them problems.
Keep a close eye on Honda as thy finally debut the ‘B’ version of thei troublesome RA107. This will be the making or breaking of the team’s season: when McLaren produced a ‘B’ car under similar circumstances in 2004 they bounced back from a dismal first half of the year to win before the season’s end.
The team kept away from the main test at Silverstone, running off to Jerez instead, so the pace of the revised car is entirely unknown.
Robert Kubica fully expects to be back in the cockpit at Magny-Cours. It’s been three weeks since his Canada shunt so it’s probably a safe bet – he could have raced at Indianapolis, but doctors were concerned about whether he could withstand a second impact quite so well. But will his shunt have any effect on his driving?
Nick Heidfeld’s was not on top form at Indianapolis, throwing away the chance to beat the Ferraris again with a mistake at turn one. If he can challenge them around Magny-Cours – where aerodynamics are vital – then BMW could be worrying Ferrari for the rest of the season.
The rumours surrounding Ralf Schumacher’s have quietened, which is odd given that he turned left instead of right at the first turn at Indianapolis and took himself out along with two innocent victims.
Jarno Trulli’s drive to sixth was impeccable and the team were fastest on two days of testing in Silverstone. With overtaking being particularly difficult at the home of the French race, another strong qualifying for Trulli could guarantee another points haul.
Mark Webber broke his 2007 points duck at Indianapolis and he, like Trulli, could score well again at Magny-Cours if he reproduces his trademark strong qualifying. David Coulthard will be happy to qualify as far away from Trulli’s team mate as possible.
Alexander Wurz’s qualifying performances are becoming a cause for concern – he started the last two races from 17th and 19th. It’s the single biggest weakness in his game right now – he raced hard and fast at Montreal and Indianapolis.
But in a season when overtaking is harder than ever, it’s rewarding him poorly, and at Magny-Cours and Silverstone it could be a big problem.
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Vitantonio Liuzzi’s exquisite, Hamilton-esque defensive driving at Indianapolis was one of the finest pieces of driving in the race. The team are crying out for a step forward in competitiveness, though.
Sutil continues to embarrass Albers in qualifying but it’s hard to see them troubling anyone but each other in the race.
Super Aguri also snuck off to Jerez with Honda – presumably so the factory team had a frame of reference for its B-car. Takuma Sato will have a ten place grid penalty following his mishap in Indianapolis.
Predict the podium for the French Grand Prix…