F1: French GP - Race

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by ajzahn, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. F1: Schumacher claims Magny-Cours win

    1 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
    2 F Alonso (Renault)
    3 F Massa (Ferrari)
    4 R Schumacher (Toyota)
    5 K Raikkonen (McLaren)
    6 G Fisichella (Renault)
    7 P De La Rosa (McLaren)
    8 N Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)

    Latest updates (all times BST):

    Lap 70: Schumacher becomes the first driver to seal eight wins at the French Grand Prix with a very comfortable victory at Magny-Cours on Sunday. Championship leader Alonso minimises the damage by holding on for second and Schumacher's team-mate Massa take third.

    Lap 67: Alonso has been unable to compete with the Ferraris and their Bridgestone tyres at Magny-Cours but Renault have ensured some damage limitation with Alonso capitalising on Massa's three-stop strategy to sneak into second with just two pit stops.

    Lap 62: Button trundles into the pits to seal a miserable afternoon for Honda as the team suffer the second retirement at Magny-Cours. That brings the total number of retirements to six with Button, Webber, Trulli, Barrichello, Monteiro and Sato all out.

    Lap 60: Webber makes his fifth stop of the afternoon and gets out of the car to confirm the Australian is out of the race once and for all. But Coulthard is just outside the points in ninth.

    Lap 54: Massa has pitted for the third time, allowing Alonso into second place, while Raikkonen is down to fifth after re-emerging from the pit lanes behind Ralf Schumacher.

    Lap 52: Schumacher is now 21.1 seconds ahead of team-mate Massa and looks set for a comfortable victory at Magny-Cours. A win would cut Alonso championship lead but how much depends on where the Spaniard finishes as he faces pressure from Raikkonen. Further down the order, Webber has been forced to pit again as his troubles continue.

    Lap 46: Schumacher has built up an impregnable lead over third-placed Alonso, who now trails by over 17 seconds. He clocks the fastest lap so far with 1:17.111.

    Lap 45: There is hope for Webber who is back out on the track after several tyre problems.

    Lap 42: Alonso finally comes in for his second stop, allowing Schumacher to regain his lead and the question remains whether the defending world champion can edge Massa for second.

    Lap 39: It's bad news for Trulli, who has retired after coming into the pits. Webber is also in trouble with some problem with his left rear tyre again.

    Lap 38: Another perfect pit stop for Ferrari as Schumacher comes in for his second stop and rejoins behind Alonso. Renault lead for the first time in this Grand Prix but Alonso knows it is only temporary as his second pit stop is imminent.

    Lap 35: Massa comes in for second stop and re-emerges behind Alonso, who is now 16.2 seconds behind leader Schumacher.

    Lap 32: Raikkonen comes in for a second stop but it seems a little early which could suggest problems with his McLaren.

    Lap 29: Eighth-placed David Coulthard finally comes in for his first stop, which explains his uncompetitive performance in qualifying. The Scot was clearly carrying a large fuel load, so he could go into today's race on a two-stop strategy. Fellow Briton Button remains in 16th place on a torrid weekend for Honda.

    Lap 27: There's a real battle going on between Trulli and McLaren driver Raikkonen, who is clearly faster on his new set of tyres. The Finn finally gets the break he's been looking for at the hairpin and moves up to fourth.

    Lap 22: It is a disastrous pit stop for Ralf Schumacher, who comes in from leading but returns to the race in seventh after trouble with his front left tyre. Brother Michael returns to the lead as all the main contenders have now pitted and all appear to be on a three-stop strategy.

    Lap 20: Trulli temporarily leads a Toyota one-two before making his way into the pits. De la Rosa finally makes up for his poor start, getting past the slower Webber. But it is bad news Barrichello, who has appeared to stop.

    Lap 18: Massa shows what you can do with new tyres as he clocks the fastest lap so far with 1:17.141.

    Lap 16: Massa is first in the pits, releasing Alonso to chase down and challenge leader Schumacher.

    Lap 14: Schumacher has opened up a 7.7-second lead as the first round of pit stops approaches but it is all over for Monteiro, who has officially retired. According to replays, the Portuguese misjudged the Nurburgring chicane and launched off the ground - clearly damaging vital instruments.

    Lap 12: It doesn't look good for Midland's Tiago Monteiro, who is in the pits and could be in trouble.

    Lap 11: Schumacher clocks the fastest lap so far with one minute 17.761 seconds and become the first driver under the 1:18-mark.

    Lap 9: Rubens Barrichello has dropped back a place to 13th after losing out to Speed, but Schumacher continues to open out his lead at the front, stretching to almost five seconds.

    Lap 6: Alonso remains hot on Massa's heels, knowing he must get past the Brazilian if he is to challenge leader Schumacher. The Spaniard has had a go at him at the Adelaide turn and Lycee Pin but is still yet to find a way past.

    Lap 3: Mark Webber has moved up to eighth after squeezing past Pedro de la Rosa's McLaren.

    Lap 2: The French Grand Prix is already down to 21 runners as Takuma Sato pulls over to the side of the track. But the front three are now racing away with a 2-second lead over Jarno Trulli.

    Lap 1: Alonso attempts to battle past Massa on the opening bend but the Ferrari driver holds him off to allow team-mate Schumacher to stream away in the lead. It is better news for Jenson Button, who slips past Jacques Villeneuve into 16th place.

    1300: The parade lap is under way. The track temperature is 48C and rising.

    1251: It looks like French Grand Prix is set to be a battle of the tyres with tyre degradation playing a key part on the 2.741-mile Magny-Cours circuit. Vitantonio Liuzzi starts from the back of the grid after a demotion following an engine change on his Toro Rosso.

    1250: The teams are making their final preparations and the drivers are putting on their helmets as just 10 minutes remain before the start of the race.

    1232: The pit lane opens and the cars begin to leave to form up on the dummy grid.

    1225: With 35 minutes to go, the weather at Magny-Cours is hot and sunny with an air temperature of 34C and humidity of 36%. (BBC)
  2. Alonso got ahead of Massa? I might have to keep watching.
  3. just another dull and boring race I felt asleep <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/sad.gif"></A>
  4. Yeah I just jumped on my computer to check the results. There is still 29 laps to go on our telecast. I think I'll switch over and watch le tour, there should be more passing.
  5. Michael Schumacher has won today�s French Grand Prix from Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

    Michael Schumacher has notched up his second 2006 victory in succession, and his eighth career win at the French Grand Prix, in today�s race at Magny Cours. The German took the chequered flag from Fernando Alonso by 10.1 seconds after a long, hot and hard fought race of strategy. Schumacher�s Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa ran home a distant third, while Renault F1�s Giancarlo Fisichella came sixth.

    At the start, Schumacher made a perfect getaway from pole position, with Felipe Massa right behind him. The Brazilian however had to defend hard from Fernando who was right on his tail. Massa would prove to be an effective cushion for Schumacher in the opening laps as Fernando pushed for all he was worth but just couldn�t find a way through as the German built up a steady lead at the front.

    The order remained as it had been from the grid until the first pitstops as Trulli and Ralf Schumacher briefly took over the lead for Toyota. But Schumacher maintained his position when everything panned out after the stops, but Ralf Schumacher was in the wars, his pitstop costing him a vast amount of time thanks to a problem with the rear left tyre.

    Schumacher was in again around half distance and emerged behind Fernando and looking racey. The pair circulated nose to tail, thrilling the crowds as they scythed past back-markers. But Fernando soon made his second stop, too, and the thrilling contest was at an end. Schumacher was thrust back into the lead and put in a brace of quick laps that set him up with a good enough lead to be able to make a third and final pitstop and come out well ahead of the Spaniard. With Massa also making a third stop, Fernando was up into second� and there he stayed. His tactics had been good, and a risky two stop strategy had seen him leap-frog Massa.

    Behind the top three Ralf Schumacher recovered to fourth after his nightmare first stop, with Kimi Raikkonen getting the better of Giancarlo Fisichella over the course of the race to finish fifth with the Italian sixth. Pedro de la Rosa had a good day at the office finishing seventh for McLaren, with Nick Heidfeld rounding out the points for BMW.

    It wasn�t exactly the most thrilling race in the world, but it did show that Ferrari will be a very real force over the remainder of the season. Their American form wasn�t just a one-off� it really will be a battle to the finish. (Renault F1)
  6. Schumi was maginificent today, but the title is probably out of his reach unfortunately
  7. MS with the maximum gap of almost 30s he reached over Massa at the race, showed the rivals once again what the word exceptional really means.
  8. The Renault F1 Team emerged from a demanding French Grand Prix with a strong second place finish for Fernando Alonso after a consistent, attacking drive and sixth position for team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

    Conditions remained exceptionally hot throughout the afternoon, as they had been all weekend, and prior to the Grand Prix the team had hoped to exploit the consistent performance of the Michelin tyres to its advantage over the race stints. Going in to the Grand Prix, the team gave itself the option of running either a two or three-stop strategy according to the drivers� track position as the first stop approached. In the end, they opted for two stops to gain ground over three-stopping competitors and this strategy worked well for Fernando Alonso, who was able to move ahead of Felipe Massa to take second position. Unfortunately, Giancarlo Fisichella was hampered by graining in his second stint and was therefore unable to take advantage of the car�s performance during this long middle part of the race. Fernando�s second place finish means he concedes just two points to Michael Schumacher, and his championship lead now stands at 17 points. The Renault F1 Team maintained its strong scoring record with a haul of 11 points, and possesses a 21 point advantage in the Constructors� Championship.

    Fernando Alonso, 2nd position
    That was a long, tough race for me but in the circumstances, a perfect result. We went into the race with two possibilities on the strategy, and once we saw that Ferrari would be three-stopping then we knew it would be hard to pass them on the track. So we chose to rely on the consistent tyre performance, and make two stops. The car balance was consistent all the way through the race, and I pushed hard to make sure I could get ahead of Felipe in the final part of the race. Given where I started on the grid, I think second is everything I could have hoped for because we knew that Michael was a bit quicker this weekend � like in Imola and the N�rburgring. Back then, everybody thought that Michael would win all the races after two wins in a row, and we responded very strongly. Hopefully, we can do the same at Hockenheim in two weeks� time.

    Giancarlo Fisichella, 6th position
    This wasn�t a great race for me to be honest. The car was getting more and more difficult to drive during the race, with tyre graining in the second stint that meant I couldn�t build a gap over Ralf and Kimi to stay ahead, and then a lot of problems under braking in the final part of the race as well. We need to have a look at what happened, but you have to take the positive part from the results. I finished in the points, I am still third in the championship after a tough weekend and we completed a second race on the C spec engine without any problems. I am optimistic for the next races, and confident we can regain our advantage.

    Flavio Briatore, Managing Director
    This turned out to be a difficult weekend for us, and Fernando got the best possible result from it. Giancarlo struggled in qualifying and in the race too, but he still scored valuable points. Of course, it is disappointing not to win the race in front of the 6000 Renault personnel who were at the race today, but we are staying calm about the championship and we still have a good advantage. The team is working hard to develop the car and engine at Enstone and Viry, and we know what is coming in the next few weeks. Michelin will be pushing even harder to regain the advantage in Hockenheim, and I am confident we can come out on top in Germany.

    Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering
    Fernando�s race this afternoon was essentially determined by the time he had completed the opening lap. He fought hard to find a way past Massa, but wasn�t able to do it and therefore lost any chance he might have had of challenging Schumacher. We had gone into the race with an open mind about doing two or three stops, but having lost time in the first stint, it was obvious that two stops was the way to go to ensure we at least finished second. Giancarlo�s race was always going to be hard from seventh, and the graining he experienced in the second stint meant he was unable to exploit the strategy to make up ground. We are now looking forward to Germany, where we will have substantial revisions to the aerodynamics and engine. We lost two races to Ferrari earlier in the season, and bounced back strongly. That�s what we intend to do again, beginning in Hockenheim.
  9. French GP - Tough start - great finish

    Magny-Cours, 15th July 2006 - A difficult day for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro ended with a great result, as for the second consecutive race and the third time this year, tomorrow's grid will feature an all-red front row, after Michael Schumacher recorded his fourth pole position of the season, while Felipe Massa will line up alongside him.

    This fantastic result had not looked that likely earlier in the day during free practice: Felie Massa had a clutch problem that was fixed just in time for the start of qualifying, while Michael Schumacher's 248 F1 had caught fire in the pits, after some unburnt fuel in the exhausts was set alight. In both cases, the mechanics did a great job to put the cars back into shape.

    With the championship in mind, this is the best possible way to start the race, but the reigning champion and current series leader, Fernando Alonso has put his Renault right behind the Ferrari duo in third place. Proving that Ferrari's tyre supplier has got its calculations right for this circuit, the two Bridgestone-shod Toyotas also did well, with Jarno Trulli fourth on the grid just ahead of team-mate Ralf Schumacher, who has the McLaren-Mercedes of Kimi Raikkonen alongside him in sixth spot. Of course, the Finn now has a new team-mate, with Juan Pablo Montoya's move to NASCAR and Pedro de la Rosa lines up eighth (alongside Fisichella's Renault) for his first grand prix since Bahrain in 2005.

    Hot weather is expected so 70 laps are going to be very tough on drivers, engines and tyres. It should be a very interesting afternoon in the French countryside.
  10. Team McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth in today's 70-lap French Grand Prix. In only his first race for over a year Pedro de la Rosa put in a steady performance to come seventh. Both drivers were on three-stop strategies with Kimi coming in on laps 17 (7.0 seconds), 32 (11.4 seconds) and 53 (7.0 seconds) and Pedro stopping on laps 18 (6.5 seconds), 35 (6.7 seconds) and 50 (7.4 seconds). Kimi remains fourth in the Drivers' Championship with 43 points and Pedro scored two points for the team on his 2006 race debut. Juan Pablo Montoya is sixth with 26 points. Team McLaren Mercedes is third in the Constructors' standings with 71 points. The Team returns to the test track in Jerez, Spain next week with Kimi, Pedro and Gary Paffett all taking to the track.

    "A disappointing race as the car was handling really well. We were lacking the speed to win, but I lost a few tenths in the second pit-stop which cost me fourth place today, so we definitely could have done better today. The car is steadily improving and we have further developments at the next test so we now look forward to the next race at Hockenheim in two weeks time, where hopefully we will score better in front of the Mercedes-Benz home crowd."

    "The car had the speed today and felt really good to drive. I feel I really could have scored more points if I had not lost position to Mark Webber at the start of the race. This meant that I lost a lot of time in the opening stint trying to pass him and when I eventually got passed during the pit stop I was behind a lot of traffic on different strategies. As a result following the first round of stops I was over 20 seconds behind Ralf Schumacher, so it was very difficult for me to improve on my position. I really enjoyed the race and I am pleased to have scored some points for the team and be one of the fastest of the Michelin runners."

    "We had a much more competitive pace today which indicates the continued improvement of the car. Unfortunately Bridgestone had an advantage and we will work hard with Michelin to reverse the situation at Hockenheim. We varied our race strategy in an attempt to improve the outcome of the race but to no avail. Both Kimi and Pedro drove well and as always we look forward to getting better results at the next grand prix."

    "Our grid positions were decisive for the outcome of our race, the pace was better than in qualifying. So it was very difficult to improve on sixth and eighth despite the fact that our lap times were among the fastest of the Michelin runners. Kimi was the second placed Michelin car, but we want to do better. Pedro put in a good performance as well, however after the start he got stuck behind a slower car for the first third of the race. Once he could run free he was immediately one and a half seconds quicker than before. We are now looking forward to our home grand prix at Hockenheim in a fortnight and will work hard to further improve our performance."

    Pos Driver Constructor Race Time
    1 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari 1h32m07.803
    2 Fernando Alonso Renault +10.131
    3 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari +22.546
    4 Ralf Schumacher Toyota +27.212
    5 Kimi Raikkonen Team McLaren Mercedes +33.006
    6 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault +45.265
    7 Pedro de la Rosa Team McLaren Mercedes +49.407
    8 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber +1 lap
    9 David Coulthard Red Bull Racing +1 lap
    10 Scott Speed Toro Rosso +1 lap
    11 Jacques Villeneuve BMW Sauber +1 lap
    12 Christian Klien Red Bull Racing +1 lap
    13 Tonio Luizzi Toro Rosso +1 lap
    14 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 +2 laps
    15 Christijan Albers MF1 Racing +2 laps
    16 Franck Montagny Super Aguri +3 lap
    Fastest Lap: M Schumacher 1m17.111
    SUNDAY 16 JULY, 2006
    Magny-Cours, (FR) 4.411km / 2.741 miles
    Sunny, 34-36°C air, 48-57°C track

    Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1: "We had problems with our tyres running over temperature. We didn’t see any sign of it in practice so it caught us out in the race. We then had a wheel rim failure on Mark’s car so we retired him early as he had too much damage. We will need to look into both of these issues to ensure they don’t occur again. It was going to be hard for Nico to get in the points from the back of the grid and we then needed to bring him in for an unscheduled stop as a precautionary measure following the problems with Mark. Both cars had great starts and Mark defended well against Pedro de la Rosa."

    Mark Webber (Chassis FW28 03, engine CA2006/023, 1st GP): "Of course I’m massively disappointed because we could have scored a point here today. I was trying hard to stay with the quicker guys but we had some heat issues with the inside edge of the tyre and then the aerodynamics were affected as a result of the damage. We’re making it very hard work for ourselves at the moment, everyone is working so hard but we don’t have anything to show for it."

    Nico Rosberg (Chassis FW28 05, engine CA2006/025, 1st GP): "It was very hard for me today, first of all because I started from the back and then because the car was very difficult to drive. I was doing one qualifying lap after another, and I was on the limit all the time, but I just couldn’t drive any quicker. We were struggling with the tyres, and I was also unlucky with the pitstops. When we decided to stop for the first time, Button also pitted just in front of me and I lost some time there. We showed some progress in qualifying yesterday so it’s a shame that the race went this way. I am now looking forward to Hockenheim, my home Grand Prix, in two weeks’ time."

    Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth Ltd: "No Cosworth problems today for either Mark or Nico. Both CA2006 Series 6 engines will be good second event engines for Hockenheim."
    Jerez Test: 18 – 21 July Alex Wurz 18, 19, Nico Rosberg 20, 21

    Panasonic Toyota Racing has recorded its second consecutive fourth-place finish after Ralf Schumacher took five points at today's French Grand Prix. Running on a two-stop strategy Ralf battled strongly throughout. He narrowly missed out on the podium despite losing time with a problem with his left rear wheel nut at his first pit stop on lap 22. It was another day of mixed emotions for the team as Jarno Trulli was forced to retire at half distance due to a problem with his brakes. Jarno had been running strongly throughout the first stint and was confident he could have battled for the podium. Indeed, for three laps during the first round of pit stops the car in front really was a Toyota, as first Jarno and then Ralf led a grand prix for the first time in 2006. The eventual haul of five points takes the team up to 5th place in the constructors' championship with a total of 21. Toyota will now move to Spain's Jerez circuit next week as it tests in preparation for the German Grand Prix at the end of July.

    Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/09B)
    Race Classification: 4th
    Gap: +27.212s (from race winner)
    Qualifying Classification: 5th
    Time: 1m16.091s (+0.598s in Session 3)
    Grid: 5th

    "We can be very satisfied with what we achieved today. It's a pity that we had a problem with the wheel nut at the first pit stop because we could probably have made the podium but these things happen. It was also a pity that Jarno had his problem but apart from that it was a very good weekend. We expected the car to be competitive because that is the way it has looked ever since Friday practice. The race was good for us too - the car was quick and the Bridgestone tyres were very good too. Our tyres have had the edge all weekend and we made a very good choice aimed at this two-stop strategy for the race. Our package has improved at every race recently so we can now look forward to maintaining this kind of performance for the rest of the season."

    Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
    Race Classification: DNF
    Qualifying Classification: 4th
    Time: 1m16.036s (+0.543s in Session 3)
    Grid: 4th

    "That was a real pity because everything was running smoothly in the first stint. The car was quick and our Bridgestone tyres were great. Because I was on a two-stop strategy while everyone else was on three stops I was confident that I could have fought for the podium. Unfortunately after the first pit stop I felt a slight drop-off from the engine. Soon after that the brake pedal started getting longer and longer and it was too dangerous to continue so I had to come in. So again it was very unlucky and I'll add it to a long list of things that have happened this season. I've had some good races this year but points have been hard to find. But you can't blame the team because it is never the same problem twice. Our pace has been great all weekend so despite the difficulties we are definitely on the up. Step by step we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

    Tsutomu Tomita - Team Principal: "It is difficult not to be disappointed today because even if that was one of our better finishes of the year, both of our cars had the pace to be on the podium today. We made a very good tyre choice and because of the consistency of our Bridgestone tyres we were able to opt for a two-stop strategy today, which was the correct move. That, combined with the progress we have made on the car, led to a very competitive race weekend from us. Everything ran smoothly from Friday practice right through qualifying yesterday but in the end we failed to make the podium because we are still having some reliability issues. Today we had a problem with the left rear wheel nut at Ralf's pit stop which cost us more than ten seconds while Jarno had to retire with a leak on the braking system. So we have to say sorry to Jarno and well done to Ralf who did a very good drive. We are going in the right direction and we will push to develop further. Our pace is improving with every race and we are still chasing our first win this season."
  13. why schumi gotta be like dat.
  14. Momentum stays with Schumacher and Ferrari.

    02.07.2006 Indianapolis, USA, Michael Schumacher (GER), Scuderia Ferrari - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, United States Grand Prix, Sunday Podium
    15.07.2006 Magny Cours, France, Michael Schumacher (GER), Scuderia Ferrari, 248 F1 - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Saturday Qualifying
    15.07.2006 Magny Cours, France, Michael Schumacher (GER), Scuderia Ferrari, 248 F1 - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Saturday Qualifying
    The 2006 French Grand Prix will certainly not go down as a classic, but for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, their fourth win of the season marked another important step in their bid to close the gap to Fernando Alonso and Renault in the drivers' and manufacturers' championships.

    Schumacher looked dominant throughout the race at Magny Cours on Sunday, leading from start to finish and never looking likely to be overhauled.

    Early on the German put in a string of fastest laps to pull out an advantage on Alonso, who was stuck behind the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Schumacher had built up a 30-odd second lead with around 20 laps to go and as such could ease off as the race entered its twilight.

    He eventually finished around 10 seconds up on Alonso, to take his eighth win at the French Grand Prix, the first time a driver has ever managed to win a single event so many times in the history of the FIA Formula One World Championship. He also nibbled another two points off Alonso' advantage in the drivers' championship - reducing the margin from 19 points to 17 points.

    It was the manner in which he took the victory though that will have Alonso concerned, as Fernando never looked in the slightest, as if he could take the win himself. Furthermore while a clever strategic decision to switch to a two-stopper allowed him to take the runners-up spot, all-in-all it was another less than convincing performance from him and the regie, who only two races ago looked to have the championship pretty much sown up.

    Massa took the final spot-on the podium, a somewhat bitter-sweet result for the Brazilian, who until the final third looked almost certain to take second. Massa held P2 off the line at the start and then did a brilliant job of protecting Schumacher, who drove off into the distance from pole. However his three-stop strategy dropped him behind Alonso and he eventually ended up more than 12 seconds adrift of the reigning champ at the finish - and 22.5 seconds off his team-mate.

    His third though gave Ferrari 16 constructors' points from the event, while Renault took only 11, bringing the gap down to 21 points with seven races to go. (Crash.net)
  15. Fernando Alonso was disappointed not to take a win for Renault on home soil – but he was still happy with a strong result today.

    How was the race Fernando?
    FA: Long… and tiring!

    Things were close at the start…
    FA: Yes, it was tight! I did everything I could to get past Massa at that moment, even with two wheels in the grass, but I didn’t manage to do it. So I had to rely on the strategy to work for me.

    It was a pretty surprising strategy: a short first stint, longer second one and even longer at the end…! Why?
    FA: We had two options. When we realised the Ferraris were three-stopping, we knew it would be almost impossible to pass on track. So we took a different option and tried to get the most from the tyres’ consistency.

    How was the car handling?
    FA: Well. We put a lot of fuel in the car at each stop and I was pushing from the start, so the tyres were quite old by the end of each stint, but the balance was good. We were two or three tenths too slow at the start of the weekend compared to Michael, and we knew it. Given where I started on the grid, it’s an excellent result to finish second.

    Were you surprised by how strong the Ferraris were?
    FA: No. Indianapolis was a difficult race from a tyre point of view, and we were probably too cautious there. Here, we were close. Like at Imola and the Nürburgring, Ferrari took the win. But a few months ago, everybody expected Michael to start winning all the races – and we took four wins in a row. So maybe it will be our turn to be on top in Hockenheim.

    So you’re not too disappointed?
    FA: I would have liked to win of course, but it wasn’t possible today. But I have only lost two points to Michael and we have 7 races to go. So we did a good job even so.
  16. French GP - Ferraris again on the podium

    Magny-Cours, 16th July 2006 - Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa finished a dominant first and third in Sunday's 70 lap French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours to reduce Renault's lead in the World Championship for Constructors by five points, and Fernando Alonso's lead in the Drivers' series by another two points.

    On a hot day, in front of a capacity crowd, Michael and Massa started on the front row of the grid, but while Michael made a superb start and went straight into the lead, Massa was challenged by Alonso at both the first corner and at the end of the straight, but he put up a robust defence and ended the first lap in second place, 1.7s behind Michael.

    Behind Alonso, the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were fourth and fifth followed by Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and then Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault. Completing the top eight was Mark Webber, up two places at the expense of Pedro de la Rosa for McLaren and David Coulthard's Red Bull Racing.

    In the opening stages, Michael gradually drew away from Massa who continued to hold back Alonso. The pair drew away from the Toyotas, with Trulli slowly pulling away from Ralf, who was gradually being caught by Raikkonen. Fisichella wasn't far behind, while Webber was being pushed hard by de la Rosa.

    Massa was the first to pit on lap 16, with Alonso and Raikkonen coming in a lap later, then Michael, Fisichella and de la Rosa pitting on lap 18. Webber came in on the next lap, while Trulli waited until lap 20 and Ralf came in on lap 22, but there was a problem with the left rear tyre and it took ten seconds longer than it should have.

    The result was that Michael's lead was still at about six seconds, but Massa's lead over Alonso had gone up to five seconds. Similarly, Alonso's lead over Trulli had gone up by the same amount. Ralf's problems meant that he had slipped behind Raikkonen and Fisichella. Trulli also now found himself in trouble, losing engine power and his brakes. He was overtaken by Raikkonen for fourth place on lap 27 and would eventually retire on lap 39.

    The leaders began to make their second pit stops on lap 32 with Raikkonen coming in first from fourth place, Massa pitting on lap 34 and then Michael on lap 38. Alonso, however, had switched to a two stop strategy and stayed out until lap 42, with teammate Fisichella coming in on lap 45. Ralf pitted on the next lap.

    Once again, the Ferraris led, now separated by 19s on lap 50, but they still had another stop to make, whereas Alonso, ten seconds behind Massa, would not stop again. Massa made his final stop on lap 53 and emerged 7.3s behind Alonso in third place. Michael made his final stop on lap 55 and emerged 18s ahead of Alonso.

    That lead had shrunk to 10s at the chequered flag, but that didn't matter: Michael had won and taken another two points from Alonso who was second. Massa was happy to be third, while Ralf was a fine fourth place, gaining on Massa in the closing stages. Raikkonen felt that he might have finished one place higher but for losing seconds in his second pit stop, but was otherwise not quick enough.

    Fisichella finished sixth, suffering from tyre graining and poor brakes, ahead of de la Rosa in seventh, frustrated that he hadn't overtaken Webber earlier although he stopped on the slowing down lap. Nick Heidfeld finished in eighth place and salvaged the final championship point. David Coulthard was the first driver out of the points in ninth place.
  17. French GP - Race

    Magny-Cours, 16th July 2006

    Michael Schumacher: 1st 1:32:07.803 70 laps chassis 254
    Felipe Massa: 3rd + 22.546 70 laps chassis 252
    Temperatures: air 34/35 °C, track 47/50 °C

    Fourth win of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. This is the fifteenth French Grand Prix win for the Prancing Horse, number 187 from 734 races. For Michael Schumacher this is his eighty eighth win from 243 Grand Prix starts, the eighth at this circuit.

    Jean Todt: "This is a great result, picking up first and third places with Michael and Felipe respectively. We knew this would be a very tough race in which tyre performance would be critical and that prediction turned out to be true. The team did an excellent job, the drivers drove very well, the cars proved reliable and the Bridgestone tyres were up to the task in hand. The combination of all these elements means that both championships are still up for grabs. There are seven races remaining this season and as we have always said, we will do all we can to meet our targets. This victory is particularly significant for me: even if I am a European, living in Italy, I am happy to celebrate my thirteen years with this brilliant Ferrari team with a win here in France. In Maranello, we have managed to put together a group of people with great qualities, supported by exceptional technical and commercial partners and it is nice to be here together with them to celebrate this success."

    Michael Schumacher: "A fantastic result, even if in all honesty it was unexpected. We did not know how the race would pan out, especially as we had not been able to do many long runs over the previous days. For these ten points, I have to thank the great guys in the team and our exceptional technical partners, starting with Bridgestone. The whole package - car, engine, tyres - was excellent today. I got a good start and from then on I could run my own race. Now we have to keep this momentum going. The championship is far from over and these two points we have made up on our main rivals are very important. I hope we can soon make up more ground."

    Felipe Massa: "I think this was a very good result for us, although of course I would have liked to keep second place. I was on a three stop strategy and Fernando was switched to a two stop race and that meant I was not able to fight with him on the track. I also had a lot of traffic in my second and third stints and this effectively spoilt our three stop strategy and cost me second place. But overall, sixteen points in the bag means we make up a bit of ground on our rivals in both championships. The 248 F1 and the Bridgestone tyres worked better than I expected, possibly because of the extra rubber which gradually got put down on the track."

    Ross Brawn: "It's a really great result at the end of a weekend when the whole team did a great job. Right from the start of the weekend, we had opted for a rather aggressive tyre choice, which paid off from yesterday's qualifying. Then today we prepared and managed the tyres during the race. Actually, they were very good and on Michael's car, fantastic. We lost a bit of performance with Felipe from around half distance and we need to understand why. It was a shame, as his pace early on was very strong. Now we have to keep on moving forward, trying to improve race by race."
  18. I don't think it was boring.To see how Alonso corrected that turn-in oversteer at 260km/h+ was amazing.

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