2008 French Formula 1 GP – Wolf’s Race Preview

The 2007 French GP was to be the last one held at the Magny-Cours track. But when the 2008 F1 calendar was published last summer, the French GP at Magny-Cours somehow made the cut again. So for the second year running we have the last French F1 GP at this rural track although the contract exists untill 2011…

Last year the French GP brought the first 1-2 finish of the season for Ferrari and turnaround in Raikkonen’s fortunes. This was also the 7th win at this track for the Ferrari team in last 11 years. (During the 2007 French GP weekend Ferrari also launched criminal investigation against certain Nigel Stepney.)

Both Ferrari drivers are full of confidence ahead of the 2008 race but at the same time wary of the competition from McLaren and BMW. The fact that Lewis Hamiton will be relegated 10 places on the grid following his pit lane crash with Raikkonen in Montreal sure does not harm Ferrari chances in France.


It would not be wise to completely write off Hamilton’s chances but the main challenge to Ferraris should this time come from Heikki Kovalainen. I however expect Robert Kubica to take the advantage of Hamilton’s disadvantage and improve on his 4th place from 2007 …

Several of the midfield teams sound very confident following last week’s test. Renault, Red Bull, Toyota and Honda all hope to score some points.

Cars usually use 1 or 2 pit stop strategy but the relatively short pit lane offers ore options. Michael Schumacher used 4 stop strategy in 2004 and won the race …

If you head to the F1Wolf Club there are several videos from recent French GPs. Feel free to add more !

Track technical info (ING Renault data):

The Grand Prix circuit in Magny-Cours includes an interesting variety of challenges for drivers and cars alike: three high-speed corners at the start of the lap; a very slow hairpin at Adelaide; two enjoyable high-speed chicanes; and more changes of gradient than the television shows.

Downforce
Magny-Cours demands a much higher level of downforce than Canada, which required a low-medium set-up. Magny-Cours demands a medium-high configuration to ensure the cars are competitive through the high-speed corners such as turn 3, and the chicanes at turns 6/7 and 11/12. While it is tempting to reduce wing levels in order to gain straightline speed to try overtaking into the Adelaide hairpin, this is rarely a feasible solution: the back straight is preceded by the high-speed turn three, and while reduced downforce would allow greater top speed, it would have a detrimental effect through this corner, costing speed and also making it more difficult to follow a competitor closely. It is something of a Catch-22 situation.

Suspension
Magny-Cours is renowned as an exceptionally smooth circuit, which allows the teams to run lower ride heights and stiffer suspension settings to improve aerodynamic performance. This also has the added benefit of making the car more responsive in the high-speed changes of direction required through the two quick chicanes. As ever, though, a good compromise must be found because the circuit also includes a number of very slow corners, where softer settings would offer better grip, and the correct balance must be struck between performance in the high and low-speed corners.

Tyres
Magny-Cours is a circuit that is particularly temperature-sensitive, and something as seemingly insignificant as a few minutes of cloud cover can have a drastic impact on track temperatures – and thus grip levels. Bridgestone will be bringing the ‘soft’ and ‘medium’ tyre compounds from the 2008 range to this race, and as always, successful management of both tyre types will be key to a successful race strategy.

Transmission
The cars are generally short and closely-geared at Magny-Cours, in order to optimise performance on the exit of the slow corners. The team will pay particular attention to performance from 0 to 250 kph, as this will ensure strong performance through the slower parts of the circuit – which in turn determine top speeds on the straights. The transmission can also come under severe strain from riding the kerbs, which the drivers do on several occasions, and particularly at the end of the lap.

Engine
Magny-Cours is not a particularly severe circuit in terms of engine performance. The V8 will spend around 63% of the lap at full throttle – slightly above the season average, but nevertheless a normal value. A torquey engine is always an asset at this circuit, as it will ensure the car exits strongly from the slow corners.

Here are the top 10 from past 10 French GP races:
2007
1) Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:30:54.200
2) Felipe Massa – Ferrari + 2.4 sec
3) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren + 32.1 sec
4) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber + 41.7 sec
5) Nick Heidfeld – BMW Sauber + 48.8 sec
6) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault + 52.2 sec
7) Fernando Alonso – McLaren + 56.5 sec
8) Jenson Button – Honda + 58.8 sec
9) Nico Rosberg – Williams + 68.5 sec
10) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota + 1 lap

2006
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:32:07.803
2) Fernando Alonso – Renault +10.1 secs
3) Felipe Massa – Ferrari +22.5 secs
4) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +27.2 secs
5) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +33.0 secs
6) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +45.2 secs
7) Pedro de la Rosa – McLaren-Mercedes +49.4 secs
8)Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-BMW +1 Lap
9) David Coulthard – RBR-Ferrari +1 Lap
10) Scott Speed – STR-Cosworth + 1 Lap

2005
1) Fernando Alonso – Renault – 1:31:22.233
2) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +11.8 secs
3) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +81.9 secs
4) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
5) Jarno Trulli – Toyota +1 Lap
6) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +1 Lap
7) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +1 Lap
8)Jacques Villeneuve – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +1 Lap
10) David Coulthard – RBR-Cosworth +1 Lap

2004
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:30:18.133
2) Fernando Alonso – Renault +8.3 secs
3) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +31.6 secs
4) Jarno Trulli – Renault +32.0 secs
5) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +32.4 secs
6) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +35.5 secs
7) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +36.2 secs
8)Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +43.4 secs
9) Mark Webber – Jaguar-Cosworth +52.3 secs
10) Marc Gene – Williams-BMW +58.1 secs

2003
1) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW – 1:30:49.213
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +13.8 secs
3) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +19.5 secs
4) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +38.0 secs
5) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +40.2 secs
6) Mark Webber – Jaguar-Cosworth +66.3 secs
7) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +1 Lap
8)Olivier Panis – Toyota +1 Lap
9) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +1
10) Antonio Pizzonia – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap

2002
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:32’09.837
2) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +1.104s
3) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +31.975s
4) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +40.675s
5) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +41.772s
6) Jenson Button – Renault +1 Lap
7) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Mark Webber – Minardi-Asiatech +1 Lap
9) Pedro de la Rosa – Jaguar-Cosworth +2 Laps
10) Alex Yoong – Minardi-Asiatech +4 Laps

2001
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:33’35.636
2) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +10.399
3) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +16.381
4) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +17.106
5) Jarno Trulli – Jordan-Honda +1’08.285
6) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
7) Kimi Räikkönen – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Honda +1 Lap
9) Olivier Panis – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
10) Luciano Burti – Prost-Acer +1 Lap

2000
1) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:38’05.538
2) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +14.748
3) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +32.409
4) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +1’01.322
5) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +1’03.981
6) Jarno Trulli – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1’15.605
7) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1 Lap
8)Jenson Button – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
9) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
10) Mika Salo – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap

1999
1) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda – 1:58’24.343
2) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +11.092
3) Rubens Barrichello – Stewart-Ford +43.432
4) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-Supertec +45.475
5) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +47.881
6) Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +48.901
7) Jarno Trulli – Prost-Peugeot +57.771
8)Olivier Panis – Prost-Peugeot +58.531
9) Ricardo Zonta – BAR-Supertec +1’28.764
10) Luca Badoer – Minardi-Ford +1 Lap

1998
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:34’45.026
2) Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +19.575
3) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +19.747
4) Jacques Villeneuve – Williams-Mecachrome +1’06.965
5) Alexander Wurz – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
6) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +1 Lap
7) Jean Alesi – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Johnny Herbert – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
10) Rubens Barrichello – Stewart-Ford +2 Laps

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. [...] Formula One circus returns from Canada back to Europe and continues with French GP. No matter at what weather forecats I look I see no rain predicted for Magny Cours track, looks [...]

  2. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    I’m a Hamilton fan and i’d like to see him win the championship but this race is beyond him i feel due to the 10 place penalty. So i will be cheering Kubica on, i think it’s great for F1 that Kubica and BMW Sauber are up there this year.

    Shaun’s last blog post..British 125GP – Tim Hastings report from Snetterton

  3. RichNo Gravatar says:

    hopefully ferrari can have a 1-2 herre again

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