Ferrari scored its second 1-2 finish of the season in France at the weekend (22 June 2008) but given that Raikkonen had started from pole position, it wasn’t quite the result expected with Felipe Massa leading the flying Finn across the finish line as a broken exhaust kept Raikkonen off the top podium step.
“A great race, a fantastic result,” said Massa at the finish. “The win came my way because Kimi had a problem with his car and at the pace he was running, it would have been hard for me to beat him on the track. I would have been happy with second place but of course, the win makes me even happier. I want to thank the whole team and our partners, especially Shell. I am leading the championship and that's a nice feeling, but I am well aware it means nothing because I am aiming for the title and to do that, there is still a long way to go. In the first part of the race I was struggling a bit to stay in touch with Kimi, then when his exhaust broke, I managed to get by. In the second part, I thought of managing the situation, making sure I made no mistakes, especially when there were a few drops of rain. We have to continue working this way, race after race, right to the end of the championship.”
Raikkonen’s fate was sealed half way through the race when his exhaust system fractured.
“Obviously I am a bit disappointed because I had hoped to win,” explained Raikkonen. “Unfortunately, the right exhaust pipe broke just before half-distance and the engine lost a lot of power, especially on the straight after the slow corners. After a few laps, the situation seemed better, but towards the end of the race, I ran the risk of stopping. This sort of thing can happen in racing and I have to try and look on the bright side: eight points are still a good amount and the one-two finish is a great result for the team. Luckily, I had built up quite a good lead in the first part thanks to a car that was really very competitive. The F2008 is definitely very strong because usually, when you have this sort of problem, retirement is almost inevitable. There is still a long way to go in the championship and I am in a better position than I was at this stage last year: let's see what I can do in the next part of the series.”
Joining the two Prancing Horse drivers on the podium was Toyota's Jarno Trulli. This maximum score result means that the Scuderia strengthens its position at the top of the Constructors' classification, leading BMW by 91 to 74. Felipe's third win of the season promotes him to the lead in the Drivers' Championship, with 48 points; two more than Robert Kubica and five more than Kimi.
After two days of hot sunny weather, the rain put in an appearance at Magny-Cours on Sunday, first thing in the morning and then some light drizzle just before the cars were due to go out on track to assemble on the grid. However, everyone took the start on dry tyres and the only further change to the grid from yesterday was that Rubens Barrichello was starting from the back, following a gearbox change.
At the start, the two Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers maintained their grid positions, with Raikkonen leading Massa. Trulli moved up from fourth to third, getting ahead of Alonso. Hamilton had moved his McLaren up from thirteenth to tenth, while Glock in the Toyota had moved up two places to sixth.
Button was the first driver to pit, bringing his Honda in on lap 5 with a broken front wing. Raikkonen set a fastest time on this lap, leading team-mate Massa by 2.1s. Behind them came Trulli, Alonso, Kubica, Glock, Webber, Piquet, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Coulthard, Vettel, heidfeld, Nakajima, Bourdais, Fisichella, Barrichello, Sutil, Rosberg and Button last.
Kimi gradually extended his lead and by lap 14 the gap to Massa was 4.1 seconds. Further back, Eighth placed Piquet's Renault was just staying head of the two penalised McLarens. Lap 15 and the first refuelling stops began, with Alonso and Hamilton coming in first. Lap 19 and Hamilton came in again and changed tyres, having appeared to bang wheels with Alonso as he drove past him to go twelfth. On lap 20, Trulli and Kubica came in from third and fourth places. The leader brought his F2008 in for a 9.8 seconds refuelling, which promoted Massa to the lead, until the Brazilian came in on lap 23 for a 9.4 second stop. Webber pitted from third.
Lap 25 saw Piquet and Kovalainen pit from third and fourth. Webber had a big moment at the final corner which allowed Alonso to get ahead to move up to tenth. One lap later, Coulthard pitted from third leaving just Vettel in fourth and Heidfeld in sixth still to refuel. The Stewards imposed a drive through penalty on Hamilton for gaining an advantage by cutting a corner.
Vettel and Heidfeld refuelled on lap 29. This meant the order on lap 30, with the front runners all having pitted at least once was: Raikkonen, 6.6s ahead of Massa, who had a comfortable 25.7s lead over Trulli. In fourth spot was Kubica and then came Alonso, Webber, Kovalainen, Piquet, Glock, Coulthard, Nakajima (yet to stop) Vettel, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Barrichello, Hamilton, Rosberg, Bourdais and Sutil.
Backmarker traffic saw the gap between the two Ferrari men get smaller, with Kimi leading Felipe by only 1.7s on lap 37. However, it soon became apparent that traffic was not the only problem for the Finn, as the TV cameras picked up a component flapping around at the rear of the car, and lap 39 saw the Brazilian take the lead while Trulli was third, still over 25 seconds behind Raikkonen. However, Kimi's lap times were slowing, to almost two seconds down on Felipe's and it soon became apparent that he had a problem with the exhaust system on his car, which is what caused him to slow the pace.
Lap 42 saw a good battle for sixth go in favour of Kovalainen as he passed Webber and at the same time, Alonso came in to start the run of refuelling for the majority of drivers who were on a two stop strategy. With twenty laps to go to the end of the 70 lap race, Kimi was still lapping around a second slower than Felipe, but the gap to Trulli grew when the Toyota man refuelled on that lap. The Finn pitted on lap 52 as did third placed Kovalainen, fifth man Coulthard and seventh placed Hamilton. Massa's final 6.3 second pit stop came on lap 54, so that one lap later the points positions were: Massa, Raikkonen, Trulli, Kovalainen, Kubica, Webber, Alonso and Piquet.
With ten laps to go a great battle was developing for third spot, with Trulli fighting off Kovalainen, which allowed Kubica to close right up and join the fight. But despite increasing pressure from the Finn, which included a wheel banging moment, the Italian hung on to the final step of the podium. The remaining points finishers were Kovalainen in fourth, then Kubica, Webber, Piquet and Alonso.
A really great result that came at the end of a very tough race,” said Ferrari team director, Stefano Domenicali. “We had started with the aim of securing the double and we managed it, despite the exhaust problem that put Kimi's race in danger around lap 35. It proves we have all the potential to do very well, but it also confirms that we cannot allow ourselves not to be perfect in every detail, especially on the reliability front. I am very sorry for Kimi, who was going really well today and did a really good job to get the car to the line in these conditions. Now we will have to check on the condition of the engine on his car and evaluate what should be done for the race at Silverstone. I am very happy for Felipe, who drove majestically, without putting a foot wrong. It is the first time in his career that he leads the world championship and I am sure that is a great satisfaction for him. We have pulled out more of a gap in the Constructors' classification, which also give us a bit of breathing space, but we cannot afford to ease up. There is still a long way to go and our rivals will do all they can to beat us. We must keep our heads down and work in a determined fashion. It is a special pleasure to celebrate with a one-two finish the one hundred and fiftieth win in partnership between Ferrari and Shell. Behind our victories are some extraordinary partners.”
Leave a comment