Guest Author - Christine Blachford
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is not a fan of the French circuit at Magny Cours. He believes it to be in the middle of nowhere, with failing facilities. With that in mind, he has shunted the GP off the calendar for next year, in favour of more exotic destinations such as Singapore and Valencia. Most are convinced that even if F1 does remain in France, it will move to a new and better track.
So, the teams and drivers had to make the most of their last visit to Magny Cours. Qualifying was not as exciting as it could have been, although the McLaren seemed to be struggling slightly compared with previous races. Fernando Alonso made it through to the last ten but was only out for one lap before heading straight back in the pits. There was some frantic activity in the garage, but to no avail Ė a gearbox problem ruined his session. Thus Alonso was starting from tenth, and Hamilton was starting second behind Massa in the Ferrari.
It looked set to be a good race, with Alonso making his way through the top ten to fight for a podium place, and Hamilton obviously going to have a brilliant start. Heís been so good at starts, that it seemed inevitable.
Except he wasnít banking on Kimi Raikkonen behind him. Well, he was only behind him for a moment, as Hamilton had an unusually bad start and fell behind the red one. He kept up a good race throughout, but the Ferrariís did seem like they had it in their grasp.
Alonso found himself forever stuck behind Nick Heidfeld. He spent the majority of the lap overtaking cars, then going in for his pit stop, only to find himself behind all those cars again. I donít know whether it was a bad strategy choice, or just luck of the draw, but he definitely struggled.
Eventually, he fought his way to finishing in the points, but only just. Hamilton conceded third place. More importantly, Massa, who had been leading the race throughout, lost his first place to Raikkonen, who jumped him on the last round of pit stops. Itís great news for the Finn, who has been struggling for form since his opening round win in Australia.
The major mishap of the weekend occurred when Spyker driver Christijan Albers exited the pits with half of his fuel hose still attached. He ignored the lollipop manís instructions and went anyway, knocking a few of his mechanics over as he went. A few metres out of the pit lane, he pulled over with the fuel hose swinging round into his vision and effectively ending his race. Although racing incidents do occur, this seems like an unnecessarily dangerous manoeuvre that leaves the driverís future in the sport in doubt.
On a happier note, I am off to Silverstone this weekend, so next week I will be able to bring you everything about the race from behind the scenes.