Monday, July 30, 2007

Renault before Hungary

Giancarlo Fisichella heads to Hungary on the back of a dismal weekend at the Nurburgring in which he struggled in qualifying and left without any points in the race. However after last week's testing the Italian is feeling more confident about an upswing in form.

"We were all quite down on Sunday evening, but since then a lot of work has been done to understand where we went wrong, and to avoid repeating our mistakes," Fisichella said. "It is in the past now, we have learned what we could from the weekend, and we are now fully-focused on the race ahead. We need to carry on moving forward.""Hungary is quite a selective circuit, and the very high temperatures often make things a bit more complicated, especially for the drivers and also the powertrain," he warned. "To be quick here, you need an effective high downforce set-up, good grip and good traction out of the slow corners. We will be working on those areas as soon as we start running on Friday morning."

Alonso Expectations

After fighting to victory at the Nurburgring last weekend, Fernando Alonso is determined to notch up back-to-back wins with victory at the Hungaroring this weekend - the scene of his maiden F1 win.

"It was great to take the win in Germany and I hope to achieve the same result in Hungary," said Alonso. "I have some good memories from this track, as I took my first Formula 1 victory in Hungary; however last year was not so good! It was a challenging race, with the time penalty that meant I started in 15th, making it up to take the lead and then dropping out.""The MP4-22 has performed well at this type of track so far this season, so I am feeling positive for the race," he added.

Renault technology investment

Renault has announced a major $50 million technology investment programme at its Enstone base. The long-term programme will include investment in a brand-new Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) facility, which will provide the team with ten times its current capacity in this area and create an industry benchmark that will stand among the top 100 global computing facilities.

"This programme of technology investment in the team sends a strong signal about our commitment to a competitive future in Formula 1," said team boss Flavio Briatore. "Each investment will be carefully and efficiently managed in line with the sport's future regulations, to derive maximum benefit for the team, our partners and the wider group." Technical director, Bob Bell added, "We are delighted to announce the construction of the new Enstone CFD Centre. While other teams have invested in costly second wind tunnels, we believe that CFD is a technology of the future that will be integral to the design and development of more efficient vehicles. This new centre will allow us to push the existing technological boundaries, and to develop new techniques and skills that will have applications far beyond the race tracks of the future."

Berger return to the cockpit

Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger will return to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car next Thursday when he drives a 1983 McLaren as part of the build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Austrian raced for McLaren in 1990-92 but the car he will drive in Hungary is from an earlier vintage – the MP4/1C campaigned by Niki Lauda and John Watson. Berger's cameo is part of Red Bull's 'Bulls versus Lions' event staged near Budapest's famous Chain Bridge, which is adorned by lion sculptures. The Bulls will be represented by Berger, STR's Tonio Liuzzi, Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber and other motorsport stars.

Friday, July 27, 2007

FIA reveals 2008 Formula 1 calendar

The FIA confirmed the Formula 1 championship calendar for 2008 on Friday. The calendar has two new faces in Singapore and Valencia. The US Grand Prix was removed from the calendar and with the French Grand Prix still there we will see 18 rounds in the F1 championship next year.

The 2008 Formula 1 championship will kick off on March 16 in Australia, followed by the Malaysian Grand Prix one week later. The first Formula 1 race through the streets of Valencia will be held on August 24, while the very first Singapore Grand Prix will be held on September 28. The Formula One season will finish on the 2nd of November at Interlagos, Brazil.

The 2008 calendar in full:

16 Mar Australia

23 Mar Malaysia

6 Apr Bahrain

27 Apr Spain

11 May Turkey

25 May Monaco

8 Jun Canada*

22 Jun France

6 Jul Great Britain

20 Jul Germany

3 Aug Hungary

24 Aug Europe**

7 Sep Italy

14 Sep Belgium

28 Sep Singapore**

12 Oct China

19 Oct Japan

2 Nov Brazil


**Subject to circuit approval

Renault boss said

Renault Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore has said he doesn't have a clue why McLaren didn't get any punishment after Thursday's World Motor Sport Council. The FIA World Motor Sport Council has said that McLaren would not receive any penalty for having Ferrari documents.

Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport: "I don't understand what happened. Why would you organise a World Motor Sport Council when there is no hard evidence? And why isn't McLaren punished for having Ferrari documents? I was on the phone with Jean Todt and he sounds very disappointed. I completely understand why Luca di Montezemolo got angry with this verdict."

Ferrari disbelief at the FIA's Decision

Ferrari has expressed disbelief at the FIA's decision to not punish McLaren over possession of the Italian giants' intellectual property. Although the sport's governing body found McLaren guilty of possessing the technical data, it chose to leave the Woking-based squad unpunished on the assumption that the information has not been used to "interfere improperly" with the championship.

Ferrari believes that the conclusion to not impose a sanction is not consistent with the council's reasoning and that suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan's actions should be made an example of.

A statement from Maranello read: "Ferrari notes that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been found guilty by the FIA World Council. It therefore finds it incomprehensible that violating the fundamental principle of sporting honesty does not have, as a logical and inevitable consequence, the application of a sanction. Today's decision legitimises dishonest behaviour in Formula One and sets a very serious precedent.

"In fact, the decision of the World Council signifies that possession, knowledge at the very highest level and use of highly confidential information acquired in an illicit manner and the acquiring of confidential information over the course of several months, represent violations that do not carry any punishment.

"The fact that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of such information was discovered totally by accident and, but for this, the team would continue to have it. This is all the more serious as it has occurred in a sport like Formula One in which small details make all the difference. "Ferrari feels this is highly prejudicial to the credibility of the sport. It will continue with the legal action already under way within the Italian criminal justice system and in the civil court in England."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

McLaren escape penalty

FIA World Motor Sport Council has decided not to penalise McLaren for suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan's possession of Ferrari documents. Although the WMSC found the Woking-based outfit in breach of the sport's rules through Coughlan's actions, it concluded that the team has not used the information to its advantage.

Thus it supports McLaren's claims that none of the technical data was used to benefit the MP4-22, which has won half of this season's races. The FIA World Motor Sport Council produced the following statement after this afternoon's hearing:

"The WMSC is satisfied that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and is therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code. However, there is insufficient evidence that this information was used in such a way as to interfere improperly with the FIA Formula One World Championship. We therefore impose no penalty. "

"But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship."

The WMSC's findings support McLaren's avowal that Coughlan and Nigel Stepney acted alone and the council now calls upon them to defend their actions with a view to suspending them from working in motorsport.

The statement coninued: "The WMSC will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period and the WMSC has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hamilton no podium

Although today's European Grand Prix put an end to Lewis Hamilton's historic run of podiums - nine - for a rookie, the young Brit is reasonably upbeat that he learnt something from today's eventful race. However, the McLaren driver is frustrated that for all his efforts he was not able to pick up any points in the title battle and he will ultimately be disappointed to see his 12 point cushion to Fernando Alonso be reduced to just two.

Lewis Hamilton said: "This was an extraordinary weekend and a new experience for me. Initially I made a good start and was sixth. I got into fourth when the two BMWs went off, and I picked up a puncture and had to pit.

"The team took advantage of this and fitted rain tyres, but it just got too slippery and I went off. I managed to keep the engine running, and a crane was able to get me free so thank you to the Nurburgring Marshalls. The race was then red flagged. After the restart I pushed as much as I could to catch up, but when you are almost a lap down you really have to rely on other people's misfortune. I was able to get ninth in the end after passing a Renault on the last lap, but no points."

Kimi 'not giving up the fight'

Kimi Raikkonen's winning form came to a abrupt halt at the European Grand Prix after a hydraulics failure ended his hopes of sneaking a win from Felipe Massa. The Finn was running strong in third and putting some considerable pressure on Fernando Alonso until his car gave up on him, continuing his run of bad luck at the Nurburgring. The Ferrari driver remains upbeat about his title chances however.

Raikkonen: "I am very disappointed. I was in a good position, immediately right behind Felipe and Alonso and the car was very quick and I was convinced I could win. "But gradually, the hydraulic system began to malfunction, I began to lose time and then I was forced to stop. "This knock back does not mean I feel like giving up the fight, even if there is now one less race in which to compete. The gap to the head of the classification remains the same and anything can happen in the seven remaining races. We have a very competitive car but clearly we have to improve on the reliability front."

Alonso steals win from Massa

Fernando Alonso overtook Felipe Massa four laps from the end of the race to clinch victory in today's chaotic Grand Prix at Nurburgring. Rain played a big part in the fate of today's race before the McLaren driver banged wheels with the Ferrari driver in an exciting finale to the European Grand Prix. Mark Webber claimed third place for Red Bull.

The Australian saw off a threatening attack from Alex Wurz's Williams on the last lap to claim the second podium of his career. David Coulthard drove solidly to take fifth in the second Red Bull ahead of the two BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, who would have made more of today's conditions had they not tangled with each other at the start. Heikki Kovalainen completed the top eight ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who just missed out on the points. It was the first time this season after ten grands prix that the young rookie failed to get on the podium. The result means that his lead over Alonso in the standings gets significantly reduced to just two points.

As the cars lined up on the grid, it started drizzling making for an exciting first lap. Raikkonen got off the line well as did Massa - both Ferraris managing to out-muscle Alonso around turn one despite the Spaniard's probing. The two BMWs collided around turn two but both managed to keep going. Lewis Hamilton got off to a great start and took advantage of the tangled BMWs to get up to fourth but appeared to have run into more tyre trouble as his right rear had a puncture, possibly from passing the spinning BMWs. He quickly fell to through the field - creating a hazard for the charging pack. However the biggest hazard seemed to be the track itself, as it got more and more slippery. Coulthard went off and Rosberg hit Button, damaging his front wing.

The rain was really pouring down at this point as all the drivers dived into the pits after just one lap to change tyres. Over just one lap however the conditions had deteriorated so much that some drivers - Raikkonen in particular - struggled to even get the nose of the car into the pits, bouncing across the kerb and having to carry on for another lap. When everyone had pitted, it emerged that the leader of the race was in fact Markus Winkelhock, who had opted to start in the pits just as the rain started to spit - allowing him to change to wet tyres. Then by lap three, the rain had come down so hard that turn one was completely flooded, causing cars to helplessly aquaplane into the gravel. The skittling cars caused havoc with Vitantonio Liuzzi almost collecting the safety car and bouncing off the tractor, which was on its way to collecting the stranded cars. Amongst them was Hamilton's McLaren but somehow the young rookie had kept the car alive and was able to rejoin. By this point the chaos had caused the race to be red flagged.

The cars were gathered on the grid in the order of the lap before the waving of the red flag. This meant the order was as follows: Top ten; Winkelhock, Massa, Alonso, Webber Coulthard, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Wurz, Barrichello, Fisichella, 11th to 17th; Kubica, Schumacher, Sato, Trulli, Davidson, Heidfeld, Hamilton. Retired were: Button, Sutil, Rosberg and the two Toro Rossos. Hamilton was classified a lap down but once the safety car had got going, he was allowed to un-lap himself. He also decided to take a gamble, being so far back, and pitted for dry tyres as it appeared the track was drying out under the sunshine. At the re-start, Winkelhock sensibly yielded to Massa and Alonso, who maintained formation. Coulthard and Webber battled in third and fourth as Raikkonen tried to find a way past fellow countryman Kovalainen for fifth. Hamilton struggled to stay on the track as his dry tryes suffered in the wet conditions - with the whole field lapping him.

But on lap 12 Hamilton set the fastest lap, suggesting it was the right time for the rest of the field running on intermediates to change to the dry compound. Raikkonen was the first to come in after a frustrating time trying to pass Kovalainen. Massa and Alonso pitted a couple of laps later to rejoin in that order, with Coulthard taking the lead. Winkelhock's exciting home Grand Prix then sadly came to an end following a hydraulics problem - having fallen to the back of the order. The top eight after the pit-stops: Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Webber, Wurz, Kovalainen, Coutlhard, Kubica. On lap 18, Heidfeld knocked Schumacher off after the Toyota driver made a mistake at the chicane giving Heidfeld a sniff up the inside at the final corner but not enough to make a full manoeuvre. Consequently a highly frustrated Schumacher was knocked into the gravel trap, having probably not seen Heidfeld. Heidfeld got away safely but the stewards decided to investigate the clash after the race. Sato then retired on the same lap. Hamilton meanwhile was working on a 30 second gap to the rest of the field down in 14th and made short work of it, banging in fastest laps one after the other. By lap 32, he came up behind Fisichella and pulled off a fearless two-wheels-on-the-grass manoeuvre around the outside on the approach to the NGK chicane. A few laps later Raikkonen retired from third having put some serious pressure on Alonso for second. That put Webber up to third and with a second career podium in sight. After what should have been the last round of pit-stops on lap 44, Alonso had worked a 11 second gap to Massa down to six seconds and was ever closing on the race leader. Webber had safeguarded his third place whilst Wurz had done well to keep fourth, albeit under pressure from Kovalainen.

However, with ten laps remaining there was forecast of rain and Renault decided to take a gamble with Kovalainen and bring him in for intermediates. But it was too soon and the Finn lost a lot of time on the track, which had remained dry, falling down the order. But soon everyone had to pit as the rain did indeed come down. After rejoining, Alonso was right up behind Massa and crawling all over the Brazilian in the pouring rain. The two were side by side as the Spaniard tried many times to find a way past and eventually did on the inside as Massa's front right banged into Alonso's side board as the Spaniard muscled past. The collision however failed to cause any damage and Alonso stormed ahead to take a memorable victory. Webber saw off the challenge from Wurz to cling onto third, with the Austrian almost managing to get past the Red Bull driver on the last corner.
Race Result :
1. F. Alonso McLaren 2:06:26.358

2. F. Massa Ferrari + 8.155

3. M. Webber Red Bull + 1:05.674

4. A. Wurz Williams + 1:05.937

5. D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1:13.656

6. N. Heidfeld BMW + 1:20.298

7. R. Kubica BMW + 1:22.415

8. H. Kovalainen Renault + 1 laps

9. L. Hamilton McLaren + 1 laps

10. G. Fisichella Renault + 1 laps

11. R. Barrichello Honda + 1 laps

12. A. Davidson Super Aguri + 1 laps

13. J. Trulli Toyota + 1 laps

Did not finish

14. K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 24 laps

15. T. Sato Super Aguri + 40 laps

16. R. Schumacher Toyota + 41 laps

17. M. Winkelhock Spyker F1 + 46 laps

18. N. Rosberg Williams + 58 laps

19. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 58 laps

20. S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso + 58 laps

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 58 laps

22. J. Button Honda + 58 laps

Fastest Laps: Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:32.853

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hamilton awaiting all-clear

Lewis Hamilton must wait until another medical check on Sunday morning before discovering if he can race in the European Grand Prix.McLaren, however, has given him the all-clear after a precautionary CT-scan check at the nearby military hospital in Koblenz.Championship leader Hamilton returned to the Nurburgring from hospital on Saturday afternoon, and in a McLaren statement said he was 'absolutely fine' and wants to race despite the 250kph qualifying crash.Ron Dennis told reporters that there is no medical reason that will keep him out of the car.

But FIA medical delegate Gary Hartstein will have the final say, when he examines the British rookie at 9.30 on Sunday morning.

"I'm feeling fine," Hamilton told reporters in the paddock. "I'm very fortunate, very lucky I haven't got any bruises – although I'm sure tomorrow I'll wake up with some!"

Iceman start European GP from pole

Kimi Raikkonen will start Sunday's European Grand Prix from pole position. It will be the sixth time a Ferrari will start the race this season from pole position. Obviously Raikkonen was pleased with his pole position. Team-mate Massa had to do with third.

Kimi Raikkonen said about his pole position run: "Finally! In qualifying at the last race I made a mistake in the final part of my lap, but today everything went well and I've managed to get back on pole. In Q1 and Q2, I had some problems with grip, but once the car was carrying the fuel load for the first part of the race it was very good again. The wait after Hamilton's accident made the third session more complicated but the biggest problem was that it was all going to be down to one flying lap. Now I am in the best possible position on the grid, but I am well aware that we can expect a very tough race. All weekend the car has been very good but are rivals are still very strong. Lewis' accident? The important thing is that, as far as we know, he is not badly hurt." Felipe Massa said: "In Q1 and Q2 I was very happy with the handling of the car. The break because of Hamilton's accident certainly did not help matters and maybe I lost a bit of the right feeling. On my final lap I was a bit slower in the first and third sectors, just by a few hundredths but it was enough to make the difference. But I am still confident because I know I have a really good car in race trim."
Qualifying result :
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.450

2. F. Alonso McLaren 1:31.741

3. F. Massa Ferrari 1:31.778

4. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:31.840

5. R. Kubica BMW 1:32.123

6. M. Webber Red Bull 1:32.476

7. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:32.478

8. J. Trulli Toyota 1:32.501

9. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:32.570

10. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:33.833

11. N. Rosberg Williams 1:31.978

12. A. Wurz Williams 1:31.996

13. G. Fisichella Renault 1:32.010

14. R. Barrichello Honda 1:32.221

15. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:32.451

16. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:32.838

17. J. Button Honda 1:32.983

18. S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:33.038

19. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:33.148

20. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:33.151

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:34.500

22. M. Winkelhock Spyker F1 1:36.940

Lewis Hamilton will be fit enough

Ron Dennis has revealed that the McLaren team will know later today if Lewis Hamilton will be fit enough to race in tomorrow's European Grand Prix. In the meantime, the 22-year-old has been taken to hospital for some scans, although it emerged he has no serious injuries.

For Hamilton's own title chances the team will be hoping that he can race but also for McLaren's own battle in the constructors' championship it is important that he is declared fit as it is too late to replace him with the team's reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa. The rules state that the replacement driver must have taken part in qualifying.Dennis said: "The main thing is that Lewis is absolutely fine with no injuries and no broken bones. He has been taken to hospital for a precautionary CT scan and we will know later today if he is able to race tomorrow. Meanwhile, the team is examining the exact cause of the wheel failure, which was reported earlier to be a faulty wheelgun.Dennis added: "The accident was due to either a faulty air regulator or wheelgun causing the wheel nut on his right front wheel not to be tightened properly. The team is undertaking a full investigation to understand how this could have happened."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Free Practice II

1. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.339

2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:33.478 +0.139

3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.590 +0.251

4. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:33.637 +0.298

5. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:33.668 +0.329

6. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:33.746 +0.407

7. Nico Rosberg Williams 1:33.845 +0.506

8. Jenson Button Honda 1:33.880 +0.541

9. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:34.146 +0.807

10. Robert Kubica BMW 1:34.221 +0.882

11. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:34.235 +0.896

12. Alexander Wurz Williams 1:34.264 +0.925

13. Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1:34.357 +1.018

14. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:34.411 +1.072

15. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:34.431 +1.092

16. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:34.446 +1.107

17. David Coulthard Red Bull 1:34.504 +1.165

18. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri 1:34.554 +1.215

19. Scott Speed STR-Ferrari 1:35.320 +1.981

20. Vitantonio Liuzzi STR 1:35.653 +2.314

21. Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:36.527 +3.188

22. Markus Winkelhock Spyker 1:37.319 +3.980

Free Practice I

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:32.515

2. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.751 +0.236

3. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:32.932 +0.417

4. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:32.975 +0.460

5. Robert Kubica BMW 1:33.205 +0.690

6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.605 +1.090

7. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:33.825 +1.310

8. Jenson Button Honda 1:33.936 +1.421

9. David Coulthard Red Bull 1:34.062 +1.547

10. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:34.142 +1.627

11. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:34.152 +1.637

12. Alexander Wurz Williams 1:34.345 +1.830

13. Nico Rosberg Williams 1:34.563 +2.048

14. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri 1:34.567 +2.052

15. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:34.683 +2.168

16. Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1:34.708 +2.193

17. Vitantonio Liuzzi STR 1:34.907 +2.392

18. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:34.921 +2.406

19. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:35.077 +2.562

20. Scott Speed STR 1:35.643 +3.128

21. Adrian Sutil Spyker 1:36.340 +3.825

22. Markus Winkelhock Spyker 1:37.116 +4.601

Monday, July 9, 2007

McLaren’s new motorhome

The Formula One fraternity got its first glimpse of McLaren’s new motorhome at the British Grand Prix. The team plan to bring the new trackside venue to all of this season’s European races and hope it will set a new standard for paddock hospitality.
Boasting a 13.5 metre-long facade, the three-story construction dominated the skyline of Silverstone. Designed and built by German company Bischoff and Scheck, the 'Brand Centre' contains four meeting suites, eight offices, and two separate rooms for drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to relax in when out of the cockpit. It takes approximately 20 people at least two days to construct.The new motorhome replaces McLaren’s old paddock venue, the Communications Centre, which made its debut back in 2002 at the San Marino Grand Prix. During its five and a half years’ service, the old centre was present at 53 races, travelled 86,731 kilometres and served up approximately 5000 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Improvements are on the way: Whitmarsh

The McLaren F1 team missed out on winning the British Grand Prix on Sunday. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen went from second place on the grid to a well-deserved victory. McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had to do with second and third. Improvements are on the way though McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh has said.

McLaren will travel, alongside every other Formula 1 team, to Spa-Francorchamps for a three-day test. The teams will then travel to the Nürburgring for the German Grand Prix. The team will have a few updates on the car Whitmarsh told Reuters. "We've got new aerodynamic components and various other parts we are putting on the car. We will come out of that test (at Spa-Francorchamps) with a quicker car, and Ferrari will undoubtedly improve their car. So it's down to who improves their car the most in the next fortnight. "I predict that we are going to see the fortunes swing either way in what's going to be a classic and exciting championship. We've now had nine races and 16 times we've had a car on the podium. That helps. It is so tight now in performance and reliability that any of us can trip up now and that would be very significant. If just one of your cars doesn't score points, then the pendulum swings very quickly."

The Beckhams among Silverstone

Along with the sunshine, Sunday at Silverstone saw a raft of celebrity visitors. With the promise of some exciting racing action proving a big draw, we caught up with some of the biggest VIPs to find out how they were enjoying their Formula One experience… An unassuming guy with short blonde hair and his equally blonde wife caused the biggest stir in the Silverstone paddock. David and Victoria Beckham - guests of the Honda team - were Formula One first timers and, judging by their comments, it won’t be the last time the famous couple attend. “I love fast cars - so it was about time that I visited a Formula One race,” explained footballer David. “The atmosphere is breathtaking. The speed and the noise paired with high-level of technology is an unbeatable combination. It’s different to a soccer stadium where fans sit in a very compact space. To see those huge grandstands around the mile-long track filled with enthusiastic fans, is simply awesome. And was the noise music to singer Victoria's ears? “It was music to the ears and the eyes!” she explained. “To be on the grid just minutes before the race starts - to see those polished cars and the guys get ready - and then hear the noise as they start their engines. Awesome, as David said.”

Second in row for Kimster

Kimi Raikkonen has won the British Grand Prix. Many would have hoped to see Lewis Hamilton win his home Grand Prix but it as the Ferrari driver who dominated Sunday's race. He finished well ahead of McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

Before the lights went green in Silverstone there was already a problem for Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. The Brazilian stalled his engine and had to be pushed of the grid. The other drivers had to complete another formation lap before they could start the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton began his race from pole position and managed to keep the lead. He was right ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica. Ralf Schumacher had a bad start. The German could start from P6 but fell back two places at the start of the race. Felipe Massa had a strong start. He had to start from the pitlane but easily overtook the drivers in the back of the field moving up towards the top ten.

After five laps Massa overtook nine drivers. When Massa met Coulthard on track he faced an interesting fight. The Scotsman wasn't going to let the Brazilian get by easy. In the end though he was unable to keep Massa behind. After thirteen laps Kimi Raikkonen started to close the gap on race leader Lewis Hamilton. He pressured Hamilton and tried to overtake him but was unable to do so. When Hamilton went in for his first pitstop Raikkonen took the lead and wasn't going to let anyone else take it. Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were in first and second after their first pitstop with Hamilton in third.

Being halfway into the race it was Alexander Wurz trying to overtake Scott Speed. Wurz touched Speed and it meant the end of the race for the American Toro Rosso driver as his left front tyre got damaged. In lap 42 Kimi Raikkonen entered the pitlane for his second and final pitstop and was able to maintain the lead ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton seemed to struggle. His laptimes weren't as good as in the first half of the race. Felipe Massa drove a strong race. He climbed up to third position before he entered the pitlane for his second pitstop. In the end he had to let Kubica ahead of him in fourth while Massa took fifth position. Kimi Raikkonen took his twelfth victory in Formula 1 and his third this season. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton finished in second and third. BMW drivers Kubica and Heidfeld finished in fourth and sixth, while the Renault drivers also scored points again. Kovalainen and Fisichella finished seventh and eighth.
British GP Result:
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21:43.074

2. F. Alonso McLaren + 2.400

3. L. Hamilton McLaren + 39.300

4. R. Kubica BMW + 53.300

5. F. Massa Ferrari + 54.000

6. N. Heidfeld BMW + 56.300

7. H. Kovalainen Renault + 1 laps

8. G. Fisichella Renault + 1 laps

9. R. Barrichello Honda + 1 laps

10. J. Button Honda + 1 laps

11. D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1 laps

12. N. Rosberg Williams + 1 laps

13. A. Wurz Williams + 1 laps

14. T. Sato Super Aguri + 2 laps

15. C. Albers Spyker F1 + 2 laps

Did not finish

16. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 6 laps

17. J. Trulli Toyota + 16 laps

18. A. Davidson Super Aguri + 24 laps

19. S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso + 30 laps

20. R. Schumacher Toyota + 37 laps

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 43 laps

22. M. Webber Red Bull + 51 laps

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The British GP Preview

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton firmly believes that he can win this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone - the first time he will ever race a Formula One car in front of his fellow countrymen.That is despite Ferrari’s speed here in recent testing and sudden return to form in Magny-Cours - and in spite of all the scandal that has blown up following allegations that a senior McLaren engineer received stolen intellectual property from Ferrari and the ensuing suspension of that engineer.
Both of these factors will add to any pressure Hamilton feels racing at home, but he is convinced that he can join a long list of Britons who have won the British Grand Prix: Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks, Peter Collins, Jim Clark, David Coulthard, Sir Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert.“You can’t win every race, and the most important thing is to be consistent, which I think we are,” he said after finishing third at Magny-Cours. “Both the Ferrari drivers said they made a good step forward, but when you are behind people, as we were in Magny-Cours, it’s a lot harder to show your true pace. I don’t think they were as quick, as much faster than us, as it looked today. Traffic and strategy had a lot to do with that, so I still think we can bounce back at Silverstone, without a doubt.“I don’t think Ferrari’s sudden speed is worrying. It just shows they’ve made a great step forward and had a slightly better strategy than us. We were always on a three-stop strategy but what happened at the start affected that. After I had made my third pit stop I was a long way behind Felipe so there was no point in me wrenching the neck out of the engine trying to catch him. Throughout the race we were quite consistent on speed, but we need a little more. I am sure that we will make another improvement before Silverstone.“To be honest, in France I was not disappointed. I don’t like to be overtaken, but that’s the same for everyone. But I was on the podium again and we are the most consistent team and I think we are doing a better job. I have extended my lead in the World Championship, so I couldn’t be happier.“It is a great feeling to go to Silverstone as the World Championship leader. To do so certainly seemed unimaginable at the start of the season. I’m very, very happy with the job I’ve done and the team have done and I go into my first British GP with the team I always wanted to drive for, and that’s one of the greatest feelings a driver can have.”After scoring his (and Honda’s) first point of the season, Jenson Button is also feeling a little more upbeat ahead of his home race. “Silverstone will be fun because I have a lot of friends and family coming and the fans treat you the same way even when things are tough. The fans at Silverstone have always been fantastic and there are four Brits to cheer on, so the lead-up will be hectic.”David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson (in his first British Grand Prix) are both seeking points finishes for Red Bull and Super Aguri respectively, while BMW Sauber and Renault will re-engage their battle for third place overall as Williams look to do well on home ground, Toyota hope to reproduce the speed Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher displaced in the test here in June, and Toro Rosso hope their seamless shift gearbox will translate into Red Bull-matching lap times. With their factory just over the road from the circuit, Spyker would also like to take something good home from this one.On paper, however, Ferrari are looking very strong. “We are back where we expect to be. You could feel the improvement in the car everywhere, really. In every corner,” Raikkonen said after his second win of the season, which brought the score to two apiece for the four leading contenders.One thing that may well bring in a degree of uncertainty to the overall equation is the weather, with rain forecast for each day.

Intellectual property transfer

McLaren announced yesterday that 'that a senior member of its technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information. The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April.

'Today the team released the following statement in which they state that intellectual property has not been received to any 'other' members of the team and that no such information has been used on the MP4-22.

'Following our statement of 3rd July 2007, McLaren has completed a thorough investigation and can confirm that no Ferrari intellectual property has been passed to any other members of the team or incorporated into its cars.
'McLaren has in the meanwhile openly disclosed these matters to the FIA and Ferrari and sought to satisfy any concerns that have arisen from this matter.

In order to address some of the speculation McLaren has invited the FIA to conduct a full review of its cars to satisfy itself that the team has not benefited from any intellectual property of another competitor.'

Red Bull Charity action

When David Coulthard and Mark Webber roll down the Silverstone pit lane at the start of Friday free practice, their Red Bull Racing RB3s will be sporting a unique one-off livery. The "Faces For Charity" initiative was announced at this year's Monaco Grand Prix with the aim of raising money for Wings For Life, a charity that supports research into a cure for paralysis caused by back injuries. The charity was set up by Austrian motocross rider Heinz Kinigadner. A total of 30,000 photos were uploaded onto a special web site by fans who have pledged money to the charity. These photos were then turned into finished artwork, transformed into decals and applied to David's and Mark's cars. The stickering process was complicated by the fact that the British GP weekend follows straight on from the race in France. Coulthard's car was rushed back to the UK on Sunday night so the work could begin, with Webber's car following on the race truck. Fans chose where on the car they want their photo and a template for each car was produced before being printed onto one large sheet of vinyl. Of course, the race engineers had their say, which is why there are no decals on the front and rear wings and the leading edges of the various parts are also devoid of stickers, to ensure the aerodynamic integrity of the cars. In the build up to the British Grand Prix, some of the fans who have their photos on the car were invited to the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes to see the livery going on the cars. The final part of the stickering process will not be completed until Wednesday in the team garage at Silverstone.

Lauda calls for Albers sacking

According to Niki Lauda, Dutchman Christijan Albers is lucky that hisboss is not a red-cap wearing former triple world champion. Winner of25 grands prix Lauda, who led Jaguar Racing for a while beforereturning to his current role as a TV commentator, criticised Spykerfor not sacking the 28-year-old race driver following an incidentduring a pitstop at the recent French grand prix.The FIA fined Albers (US) $6,800 for recklessly driving away with hisfuel hose still attached, but Lauda says F1's governing body shouldalso have confiscated his Super License. "I wouldn't let him start thenext race," Lauda, 58, is quoted as telling the Dutch racing magazineFormule 1 Race Report. "In all the years I have been around in formulaone, never before have I witnessed something as stupid as that."Even one of Albers's own bosses refused to back the struggling Albers,with Mike Gascoyne telling The Times that he was baffled by the error."I don't know why he did that," Spyker technical boss Gascoyne said."He's an experienced driver, he should know what to do."

Lewis wants a pay rise?

There are reports in Spain that Lewis Hamilton is asking McLaren for apay rise. Hamilton signed for McLaren this year for a salary which isbelieved to be around $300,000, with a bonus scheme based on thenumber of points that he scores. According to the reports, however,there is also a clause in the contract that allows for a renegotiationin the event of him leading the World Championship at the halfwaypoint of the season. Such a clause is possible as no-one expectedLewis to be doing as well as he is and such a clause might have beenallowed because it seemed at the time to be wildly optimistic.The stories should be treated with a certain amount of care as theycould be designed to destabilize the team and put pressure onHamilton. Having said that it is not unnatural for Hamilton to wantmore as he has given the team and its sponsors extremely good valuefor money thus far this year.

Alonso: Team wants Lewis home win

Fernando Alonso says he thinks McLaren would be happier if Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix than if he did. But the world champion has no complaints about that preference because the team was equally supportive of his bid to take a home win in Spain. The relationship between the McLaren drivers has been a huge topic in the media in recent months, although both they and the team have been keen to play down any suggestions of tension in the garage. While Alonso believes a Hamilton win would be McLaren's preferred Silverstone result, he was quick to qualify his comment by saying that the squad gave him the same support in Barcelona.

"I think that, yes, they would prefer that (a Lewis victory) and I don't think there will be any argument," Alonso was quoted as saying by the British newspapers.
"We will be in England and we have a Spanish driver and an English driver and the Englishman is leading the championship.
"So if he wins it will help the team.
"The team wanted me to win in Barcelona and they will want Hamilton to win at Silverstone."

Alonso failed to win his home race after going off at the first corner in a bid to grab the lead from Felipe Massa. He currently trails Hamilton by 14 points in the world championship.

Stepney departs Ferrari

Nigel Stepney has left Ferrari. The team confirmed on Tuesday thatthere has been a disciplinary procedure and that Stepney is no longeremployed. Stepney says he is innocent of allegations that he tried tosabotage the Ferrari F1 cars in the days before the Monaco Grand Prix.He says that there is a smear campaign going on against him, but hasnot explained why this would be the case and who would benefit fromsuch a thing.Ferrari has made a complaint to the Italian police but no charges havebeen made. Ferrari refuses to give details about the allegations it ismaking but someone somewhere is feeding the Italian media with storiesabout white powders being found in the fuel tanks of the Ferrariracing cars in the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix.Stepney is due back from his holiday on Thursday and was due to go tothe British Grand Prix. That trip will probably now be cancelled as heis no longer with the team but that is unlikely to top him talking tothe press.Stepney's lawyer in Italy says that he will see the Italian police onhis return and try to clear his name and will then take legal actionagainst Ferrari if it is deemed to be necessary.Clearly there is a great deal more to this story than meets the eye.

Ferrari confirm action against McLaren man

Ferrari have confirmed they instigated legal action against a seniorMcLaren engineer in both Italy and England, saying this concerns "thetheft of technical information. "The Maranello-based outfit dismissed Nigel Stepney after initiatinglegal actions against him, claiming he was involved in sabotage andespionage against Ferrari.And today McLaren revealed they have suspended a senior member oftheir staff after discovering he unlawfully obtained technicalmaterial belonging to Ferrari.In a statement issued this evening, the Italian team said: "Ferrari announces it has recently presented a case against Nigel Stepney andan engineer from the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team with the ModenaTribunal, concerning the theft of technical information."Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a searchwarrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced apositive outcome."Ferrari reserves the right to consider all implications, be theycriminal, civil or of any other nature, according to the applicablelaws." understands the search already took place today in theMcLaren engineer's house, with police finding the incriminatingmaterial, which then led McLaren to suspend him.As the affair looks set to dominate paddock talk in the forthcomingrace, an FIA spokesman said they are monitoring the situation."We have received information on this matter which we are examining atthe moment," he said today.

McLaren suspect is Mike

Mike Coughlan, McLaren's chief designer, is the senior engineer suspected of espionage against Ferrari, has learned. The 48-year-old Briton is suspected of unlawfully obtaining technical material belonging to Ferrari in collaboration with Ferrari's Nigel Stepney. In a search conducted by the police at Coughlan's house today, documents allegedly belonging to Ferrari were found, leading McLaren to suspend him while Ferrari said they reserve the right to pursue further legal action. Coughlan joined McLaren as chief designer in August 2002 after four years with the Arrows F1 team. His initial role there was chief designer, and in the last couple of years at Arrows he was promoted to technical director. Coughlan was also head of the design office at Benetton in 1991, and later in his career worked for the Ferrari Design and Development office in England. He also worked as race engineer at Tyrrell in the mid-1990s.

Iceman needed time

Kimi race engineer Chris Dyer believes it was only natural that the Finn took time to hit form for Ferrari. Although Raikkonen won on his debut for the team in Australia, he then endured a long fallow period prior to his Magny-Cours victory – being outpaced by team-mate Felipe Massa and drifting back into a distant fourth in the standings. The Finn came under increasing pressure in the media, especially as he had replaced Michael Schumacher at Ferrari. There was speculation that the team was unhappy with his performance and even rumours that Ferrari wanted to replace him with Williams' Nico Rosberg next season. But Dyer said there had been no such dramas within the team, and that Ferrari had always expected Raikkonen to need time to acclimatise.

"To be honest, I don't think we've ever had any problems with Kimi fitting into the team and the way we've worked with Kimi or the way Kimi's worked with us," he said. "It's not something we had a problem with and we had to improve. "It takes time to understand him as a driver, for him to understand our car and the way our systems work. "I just think it's part of the natural process of a driver coming to a team and settling into that team, and the team settling into the driver. "It's just a constant process of trying to understand him better, trying to understand the car better and get the most out of both of them. "I don't think we've made any huge steps in any single area, it's just a little bit of improvement in all areas and we see the results." Dyer added that the press focus on Raikkonen's run of poor results made his Magny-Cours turnaround even more satisfying. "There's been a lot of pressure especially on Kimi, I think, about the fact that we weren't winning, so yeah, it's more satisfying to win here than it was in Melbourne and I hope we can continue with a few more before the end of the year," he said.

Stepney's conduct

Nigel Stepney, the Ferrari engineer at the centre of a legal investigation in Italy, has been dismissed by the team, according to reports in the Italian press. Ferrari confirmed to ITV Sport at the French Grand Prix that it was carrying out its own inquiry into Stepney's conduct in parallel with the police investigation. Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport now reports that Ferrari's investigation is complete and the squad has formally ended Stepney's contract. Stepney is currently on holiday in the Philippines, but is expected to return later this week. He has maintained his innocence throughout the affair and is expected to give a press conference when he returns. According to Gazzetta, Stepney's lawyer Sonia Bartolini was not surprised by Ferrari's decision, but says the British engineer will be able to prove that he has done nothing wrong. Although few details have been released about the nature of the investigation, Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni told ITV Sport that it related to irregularities discovered at the Ferrari factory prior to the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari for industrial espionage

McLaren has suspended a senior member of its technical staff after discovering that he received confidential information from a Ferrari employee earlier this year. The British squad said in a statement that the individual in question – who was not named – was being investigated by Ferrari for industrial espionage. The statement read: “McLaren became aware on 3rd July 2007 that a senior member of its technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information. “The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April. “Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions it will fully co-operate with any investigation. “The individual has in the meanwhile been suspended by the company pending a full and proper investigation of the matter. “No further comment will be made.”

Monday, July 2, 2007

Honda continue technical recruitment

Following news that Williams’ chief aerodynamicist Loic Bigois is set to join Honda, the Japanese squad have confirmed there will be further appointments to their technical team over the coming months, which will include personnel from BMW Sauber and McLaren.
After their difficult start to the 2007 season - they finally scored their first point in France at the weekend - Honda have been making a calculated push to boost their design and engineering staff.Now, in addition to Bigois, Francois Martinet from Williams, John Owen from BMW and another young aerodynamicist from McLaren are all expected to move to Honda, either later this year or early in 2008.“It's a concerted effort to improve our skills in that area because aerodynamics these days is 80 percent of the performance and we simply weren't strong enough in that area," team principal Nick Fry told news agency Reuters.Frenchman Bigois’ Formula One career began with Ligier in the early 1990s and prior to joining Williams in 2003 he also enjoyed stints with the Sauber, Prost and Minardi teams.

Spyker was crying

Spyker Formula's disappointing French Grand Prix weekend came to a similarly frustrating conclusion today in Magny-Cours. Adrian Sutil finished in 17th position, two laps down from winner Kimi Raikkonen, while Christijan Albers retired on lap 28 when he pulled away from a pit stop with the fuel hose still attached to his car.

Despite starting in the T-car following an electrical problem on the grid, Adrian Sutil provided the one highlight for the team when he set lap times close to those of the top six early on in the race. A drivethrough penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit however put him back to the end of the field and out of contention. A radio problem just before Adrian's first pit stop meant both he and Christijan pitted on the same lap. The Spyker crew did an outstanding job to refuel and change Adrian's tyres before Christijan arrived, but the Dutchman exited the box while the lollipop was still down and the hose still connected to the car. Fortunately no one was injured in the incident. With the British Grand Prix just one week away, the team now returns to its base just across from Silverstone Circuit to focus on bettering this weekend's performance. "This was for sure not the perfect race," said Sutil. "We had an electrical problem at the start and I had to change to the T-car, but after I had got used to it I could go faster and faster and the lap times were competitive. Unfortunately then I got a drivethrough penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit and dropped down. I will go through and check everything, but in the end we were just not fast enough this weekend and couldn't race any cars. It is disappointing, but hopefully in Silverstone it will be much better."Christijan Albers commented, "From today I think the most important thing is that the guys were OK and nobody was hurt in the accident. The first stint was quite OK at the beginning but then I got a lot of oversteer and the balance changed a little bit. I think I just made a mistake in the pits, I thought the lollipop was going up. It was quite chaotic as Adrian had just been in the pits, but more on my side and I just drove away. I am pleased that the guys are OK; this is the first time in my life that this has happened, and hopefully the last."Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer added, "First of all well done to everyone in the pit crew who did a fabulous job. Obviously this was a very difficult race. We had an electrical problem at the start of the race on Adrian's car and he had to start in the spare. During the first stint the pace was not too bad, especially with Adrian who managed to pass his team-mate and set some very competitive lap times. Unfortunately we had a radio problem on Adrian's car, which meant we couldn't get in contact with him and he came in a lap early on the lap we had called Christijan in. The crew did a tremendous job to service both cars and Christijan would have lost very little time as a result, but he made a mistake and drove off when the lollipop was still down and the fuel hose was still attached. It was obviously a very dangerous situation and this sort of thing shouldn't have happened. Unfortunately Adrian then got a drivethrough penalty, but when in clean air our pace was much better than we showed in Qualifying yesterday. As a team we now have to make sure we eliminate mistakes and perform at a much higher level."

Mansell and Herbert for BMW Sauber

Former race winners Nigel Mansell and Johnny Herbert will get back behind the wheel of a Formula One car at next weekend’s British Grand Prix. The two veterans have been lined up by BMW Sauber to demonstrate the team's car at Silverstone.Mansell, Herbert and the F1.07 will be the star attraction in BMW Sauber’s Pit Lane Park, the team’s high-tech theme park designed to get fans even closer to Formula One racing.
Ex-world champion Mansell, who won the British Grand Prix four times between 1986 and 1992, will drive the car on Friday, while Herbert, victorious at Silverstone in 1995, will be in the cockpit on Saturday. BMW Sauber test driver Sebastian Vettel will take over for Sunday’s final runs.Entry to the park area, which will be located behind the Becketts grandstand, is free. As well as the aforementioned demonstration drives, the programme will include first-hand experiences for fans, such as changing wheels at a pit stop or competing on a race simulator.

Button get the 1st point

Jenson Button opened the Honda team's world championship points account in Magny Cours today. He came home in eighth place after maximising the performance of his RA107 throughout the 70-lap French Grand Prix. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello finished in 11th place.

"It was an enjoyable race today and we've shown that the car has improved a lot with the new package," said Button. "It's nice to have a car which gives me the confidence to push and I'm pleased with my fastest lap time relative to our competitors. This shows that our race pace is improving, although we still need to work on our qualifying pace. Once we can get on top of that, we will be in a much stronger position to compete for points going forward. All credit to the whole team today as a faultless race with good pit stops helped me make the most of our strategy. A good weekend and I'm looking forward to another one at the British Grand Prix next week." Barrichello commented, "I was quite heavy on fuel for my opening stint and I don't know if that hurt my first set of tyres because I just didn't have any pace in the car. After that, the pace began to improve but unfortunately it was too late to make any further progress up the field. We will have to look into the reasons for the problems but on the positive side we can certainly say that the car has improved at this race and it is encouraging to take that step forward. We need to maintain our focus now and work hard to bring further improvements." Engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert added, "Jenson drove a very good race which proves that the recent car developments have helped us to improve our race pace. Rubens was not so happy with his brakes and had to drive defensively as for much of the race he had lighter cars behind him. All in all one point is a small reward but well-deserved nonetheless."

Man of the race

McLaren boss Ron Dennis praised Fernando Alonso for his never-say-die performance in the French Grand Prix, hailing him as the "man of the race". Alonso faced an uphill task at Magny-Cours after a gearbox problem in qualifying consigned him to 10th place on the grid.

The world champion spent much of the race in pitched battles with other cars, harrying them unrelentingly but finding it difficult to get past on the short, twisty track.The experienced Nick Heidfeld kept him at bay for lap after lap before Alonso finally made a move stick with a breathtaking inside pass on the entry to the 140mph Nurburgring chicane.Ultimately Alonso's early-stopping pit strategy negated his hard work, however, and he finished a frustrated seventh, behind both Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella.

"For me Fernando was the man of the race," said Dennis.

"His race was always going to be challenging starting from 10th, but our aim was to score points, which he did."

Alonso said the fuel strategy the team employed – to which it had committed before his qualifying problem struck – meant he was unable to break free of traffic and exploit his car's pace.

"I did the maximum I could today, but we knew it would be difficult starting 10th with a fuel strategy that was originally aiming for a top-three grid position," he said.

"This meant that at the pit stops I was always changing positions and ending up behind those I had already passed.

"The fight with Nick Heidfeld was fun, but it was a lot of hard work.

"I also made a good move on Giancarlo."

Alonso lost ground in the world championship standings to team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who has a 14-point advantage after another podium finish in France. The Spaniard admitted he threw caution to the wind in his efforts to minimise the damage to his title chances.

"I am contesting the world championship, so I had to do whatever I could today and was not worried about the risks," he said.

"It is a disappointing result, but we will have to look to improve next week [at the British GP], where we should be strong."

Iceman is Back

Kimi Raikkonen stole victory from Felipe Massa in the French Grand Prix to lead home a dominant Ferrari one-two ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Raikkonen's second win of the season brings him back into championship contention. Fernando Alonso meanwhile finished seventh, despite pulling off a sequence of thrilling overtaking moves.

Ferrari dominated the start with Massa getting away cleanly in the lead and Raikkonen stealing second place from Lewis Hamilton. Robert Kubica kept fourth ahead of the two Renaults of Fisichella. At the back of the field Davidson clipped Liuzzi sending the pair spinning out of the race at the first corner. There was action down at the Adelaide hairpin where Trulli drove into the back of Heikki Kovalainen, ending the Toyota driver's race. Kovalainen pitted and resumed at the back of the field. Alonso meanwhile was on a charge and up to eighth - a lap later he muscled past Rosberg for seventh. Meanwhile at the front Massa was stretching his lead over Raikkonen - on lap seven the difference was three seconds, with Hamilton a further 1.5s adrift. The Ferraris maintained their lead and Alonso remained stuck behind Heidfeld until lap 16 when McLaren pitted both its drivers. Race leader Massa went three laps further before refuelling. Kimi Raikkonen went three laps further before making his first stop and rejoined just behind his team mate. Alonso meanwhile made light work of former team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, passing him for seventh down the inside of the Adelaide hairpin. As the Ferrari's extended their lead over Hamilton to ten seconds, Alonso was back to chasing the tail of Heidfeld's BMW. It took him some time, but on lap 33 Alonso decided enough was enough and charged through at the blind, high-speed final chicane to take fifth place. Hamilton made his second pit stop on lap 37, rejoining alongside Robert Kubica through the high-speed Estoril corner. The Pole kept his nose ahead but Hamilton barged past in the Adelaide hairpin to retake third place. During all the action, Alonso made his second pit stop, amid speculation McLaren may have switched him from a three-stop to a two-stop strategy. Ferrari looked unbeatable as Massa made his second pit stop on lap 43 and fuelled for the rest of the race. Kimi Raikkonen stayed out two laps further and made it count as he rejoined the race comfortably ahead of his team mate to take the lead and final sprint down to the chequered flag. Alonso found himself back in seventh, chasing the tail of Fisichella for the second time this afternoon but could do nothing to get past and settled for seventh. Raikkonen swooped past the chequered flag to take his second win of the season, the eleventh of his F1 career and put himself back in contention for the drivers' championship. Felipe Massa claimed eight points for second place, although he really should have won the race while Hamilton scored yet another podium in third. Robert Kubica proved he had lost none of his competitiveness after the Canadian Grand Prix crash to take fourth place ahead of the second BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. Fisichella took sixth place for Renault ahead of Alonso and Jenson Button in eighth, scoring Honda's first point of the season.

Result :

1. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari

2. Felipe Massa Ferrari

3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

4. Robert Kubica BMW

5. Nick Heidfeld BMW

6. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault

7. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes

8. Jenson Button Honda

9. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota

10. Ralf Schumacher Toyota

11. Rubens Barrichello Honda

12. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault

13. David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault

14. Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota

15. Heikki Kovalainen Renault

16. Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda

17. Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari

Ret. Scott Speed STR-Ferrari Technical

Ret. Christijan Albers Spyker-Ferrari Accident

Ret. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda Accident

Ret. Jarno Trulli Toyota Accident

Ret. Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Ferrari Accident

Fastest Lap : Felipe Massa 1:15.034