2008 French Grand Prix preview: Business as usual for Ferrari in France?

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Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Magny-Cours, 2006, 470150

The Circuit de Nevers in Magny-Cours has been very kind to Ferrari – they’ve won here five times in the last seven events.

With Lewis Hamilton taken out of the equation by a ten-place grid penalty, the only question about who will win this weekend is whether it will be Felipe Massa or Kimi Raikkonen.

Do Ferrari?s rivals stand a chance in France?

Last year Magny-Cours fast corners plus its smooth surface added up to a perfect weekend for Ferrari. Raikkonen and Massa stormed to a one-two and even a strategic battle between the two, won by Raikkonen, couldn?t stop them winning by half a minute.

So far this year the signs are that Ferrari will enjoy a similar advantage. They won at Istanbul and Catalunya ?ǣ both medium-high downforce tracks that can be taken as strong indicators for what we can expect at Magny-Cours this weekend.

So which of the Ferrari drivers will it be?

The momentum seems to be with Massa at the moment, as Raikkonen hasn?t scored in the last two races. But that is deceptive. Raikkonen was clearly quicker at Montreal and was poised to attack for the lead when Hamilton took a bite out of the back of his car.

Massa was definitely miffed at being pipped by Raikkonen here last year and there wasn?t a lot in it between the two of them. As they are similarly close in the championship we could well be in for a repeat this year.

What can their opposition do about it? Hamilton, as we discussed yesterday, is already out of the reckoning.

Robert Kubica is on a high after his Montreal win but it?s unlikely that BMW can challenge for a win yet on a ??normal? track on a ??normal? day.

That leaves Heikki Kovalainen. If you’re looking for an outside bet for a win, Kovalainen is probably worth a punt. He’s had pretty much relentless misfortune this year and it has to end sooner or later (I’ve said that before though).

McLaren, however, appear to have improved their performance on high speed corners where last year they lagged badly compared to Ferrari. With a vital chance to cut his deficit in the championship to team mate Hamilton, Kovalainen must at least be aiming to split the Ferraris.

See the new F1 Fanatic Forum for details of coverage of the French Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “2008 French Grand Prix preview: Business as usual for Ferrari in France?”

  1. I think the true speed of the McLaren is being masked by Hamilton’s raw pace. It is clear that McLaren is nowhere near Ferrari on pace this year. I would put McLaren and BMW together. It is only due to Hamilton’s and Kubica’s driving that they are able to match Ferrari. For reference just compare Ham/Kub with Kova/Nick. The two wins for McLaren came when Ferrari messed up. McLaren have yet to win a race on merit, although Lewis’s win in Monaco was something special.

    With McLaren producing good/bad cars every other year, I can’t wait for 2009 as it is going to be an absolute beast. On top of that, McLaren have a track record of adapting to new regulations better than all the teams.

  2. I tend to agree that on a “normal” day the entire race will be a procession, but bear in mind, isn’t this the track where Timo Glock collided with his teammate on the starting grid?

    Mistakes are always possible, that’s why the races are run.

  3. I had predicted, before the qualifying, that a Ferrari was going to win in Montreal from the 2nd row on the grid. As we saw, this was very likely to happen as of lap 16, when Kimi had closed the gap to Hamilton from 10 to less than 6 seconds and was lapping as much as 6 tenths per lap quicker than Lewis. And on lap 17, when the safety car came in, that likelihood turned to a virtual certainty … except for Lewis’s ‘blunder’. How many of you out there think there is something ‘wrong’ with this supposed ‘driver error’ ? I was thinking before the race, that even Kimi was the faster man in race trim, wouldn’t it be quite a story if the man that almost died there last year actually came back to win the race ?

    For Magny Cours, I see a Ferrari walk w/ Kimi beating out Felipe. And no pit incidents this time.

  4. With Lewis down in P11, or even starting from the Pit Lane, I think that Kovi will be out to prove that he can drive well enough to at least separate the Ferraris (behind Kimi and in front of Massa).
    But now BMW know that they also have the winning power, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kubica in front of Massa too, and Heidfield on his tail.
    Alonso is after blood too, so he will try to be right behind Kimi if he can, and certainly ahead of Kovi and Massa.
    The Red Bulls are getting stronger, and so are the Hondas, so I hope that it won’t be a straight forward Ferrari-led procession.
    If it does begin to turn into one, I will be turning off my TV!

  5. I reckon Massa could do it. It’s the kind of track him and Ferrari work well together.

  6. Magny Cours, Silverstone and Spa are Kimi’s grounds. Chalk up three wins for him there.

  7. Who will win France Grand Prix and how well Hamilton will do? I don’t have crystal ball so i went and did some study. It is interesting what numbers bring up.

    I used year 2007 and 2008 for these numbers because year 2007 was first year when all top 4 drivers was driving in F1.

    KUBICA: Have 1 win and that from grid 2. Totally 23 races. His race results compare qualifying : 12 higher than q/ 8 lower than q/ 3 same than Qual. Highest up from 14 to 9. He had totally 23 races compare others 24.

    Seems that Kubica have very good chance for podium, even win race. He is far better driver than his car.

    MASSA: Totally 5 wins. 4 of them from pole. 1 win from grid 2. race results compaire qualifying: 6 higher than qualifying/ 10 lower than Q/8 same than Q. Highest up from 16 to 6 place.

    These numbers proof what many people has said. Massa is good in qualifying but in long race run he obviously have problem. It seems that he is able to win when he starts from pole but other grid positions bring him problem.

    If Massa start lower than 2 grid I would not put my money on him.

    KIMI: Totally 8 wins. 3 from grid 1/ 3 wins from grid 2/ 2 wins from grid 3.

    Race results compare to qualifying: 12 higher than q/ 4 lower than Q/ 8 same than q. Highest up from 16 to 8.

    This results was one without suprise. Kimi’s weakest point has always been qualifying. He has nerves enough to wait what happens in race and use his chance when ever they show up.

    KOVALAINEN: Wins 0. Higher than q 13/lower than q 8/same than gualif. 3.

    Kovalainen has been unrated. His car was not winning car last year but he still did great job. He is man with fight spirit obviously. If his car is working correctly and team don’t make mistakes, i would put money on him.

    LEWIS: Totally 6 wins. 4 times from grid 1/ 1 times from grid 2 and 1 time from grid 3.

    Race results compare qualifying: 8 end higher than qualifying /8 lower than q/8 same than q.
    Highest positions up from qualifying to race is from 4 to 2.

    Statistics of Massa and Lewis shows a lot of similarity. They are very good in qualifying, but if they start lower than 4 grid they have problems to process.

    And that is bad news to Lewis when we are going to France Grand Prix. Lewis start highest from 11 grid and if he follow his earlier statistics he will end up highest 9th place and that don’t give any points.

    But let see what is his chance by statistics of France Grand Prix.

    Since 1991 only three drivers lower than 10th grid has end up to podium. Raikkonen, Hakkinen and Barrichello. Tough company, right? No money for Hamilton on podium in France.

    Well how about getting some points? Let see. 12 times from 17 race driver lower than 10 grid had end up 8th place or higher. That is Hamilton’s hope.

    But what he need for scoring points? He needs brake his own records and take over more than 2 car, he need proof that is as good driver as people says and he has to proof his statistics wrong. A lot of to proof for young British.

    Looking all those numbers i have say that i will put money to Kovalainen and Raikkonen. If Massa can do good job in qualifying i am pretty sure he will win but he really hast to look his back mirror. Behind him will be 3 guys whose statistics has proofed that they just wont stay in place what qualifying brought them.

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