The 2008 Formula One season was one the most exciting in recent memory. We have had new races, new faces, new race winners and a new champion. But 2008 was also year of losses for Formula One. Here is brief overview of what (who) we will not see next year:
The decision of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) to cancel the 2009 French Grand Prix came as a surprise. At the same time however it was probably only a matter of time before someone came out cancelling a race. Rumours about some race organizers looking for a way out of 2009 calendar surfaced around the same time the Canadian GP was dropped. French GP did not feature on F1 calendar only 1 time, back in 1955, following the Le Mans events. There are several French regions and venues interested in staging the Formula 1 race (Disneyland being the front runner) but it looks dead certain now that there will be no Formula 1 race in France next year. What looked like 19 races season only 2 weeks ago is turning into 17 races one. Will FIA and FOM keep it at 17 or will they add another race in place of the French GP ?
Several things happened yesterday that could have changed the podium line up. While Hamilton’s drive through penalty is still one of the talks of the race the opinion of the majority is that the penalty was justified. From what I have seen I tend to agree with that. There were however 2 other incidents that I am not sure were handled correctly by the race control.
Incident one – Raikkonen’s exhaust pipe
If there is a car on track that may pose danger the stewards can call it back to the pits to get rid of the danger. There is even this nice black flag with orange circle for that purpose. When Raikkonen’s car suddenly lost some pace on lap 36, a piece of the loose exhaust pipe appeared to be bouncing arround chassis hanging there only on a piece of wire. It was only matter of time before that piece of car gets loose and flies away. Ferrari were aware of that and based on post race words from Domenicali chose to let it fly away itself rather than bringing the car to the pits and cutting it away. Even when Raikkonen came for his regular pit stop nothing was done with the pipe in order not to waste valuable seconds…
Question: Why was it not possible to remove the exhaust at the pit stop?
Domenicali: It had already fallen off. It was already flying away. There was the cable of the lamda and we decided not to cut that because we were maybe losing more seconds, and we had Trulli pushing behind so we took that into consideration, and I have to say that in terms of strategy, in terms of teamwork everything was done correctly.
So everybody was aware that piece Kimi’s car will eventually get loose and fly off and nobody found that to be a potential danger to other drivers or to spectators ? I am happy for Kimi to be able to finish the race and in 2nd place under such circumstances. But I do wonder why the race control did not take any action to make sure his car poses no danger. After listening to the French GP digest at Sidepodcast I see that I am not alone …
Incident two – Trulli vs. Kovalainen
One journalist suggested at the post race press conference that Trulli and Kovalainen touched the wheels while fighting for the 3rd place with a lap to go. I do not think their wheels touched although they came very very close. It however looked to me that Trulli did make a sudden movement in Kovalainen’s direction when the cars were almost side to side forcing Kovalainen off the track. Was this a display of excellent racing we all want to see or an example of dangerous defensive driving from Jarno Trulli ? After watching the replay several times I do wonder why Trulli’s maneuvre was not at least investigated by the stewards …
At the end no flag to Raikkonen no penalty to Trulli – Was that right ?
We sure have seen better races then 2008 French GP but we still got few servings of racing excitement despite utter Ferrari domination.
The only chances for others to mess with Ferrari were either at the race start, rain intervention or something going terribly wrong for one or both Ferrari drivers. At the race start all the fighting took part behind the two red cars and 1-2 order Kimi-Felipe has been set from the beginning. Kimi was 2-3 tenths faster and safely pulled away from Massa. The race at least at the top looked settled early on. The first round of pit stops changed nothing and Kimi seemed to be set for a win. Then however came lap 36 (just about half the race distance) and Raikkonen’s car began to slow down. The reason became obvious quickly. A big hole burned in the side of Raikkonen’s car and the exhaust pipe kept bouncing around hanging only on a piece of wire. Raikkonen kept on going but it did not take long for Massa getting ahead of him and claiming the lead. Surprisingly Raikkonen’s car held together till the end and Kimi returned to the podium after 2 races without any points. Felipe Massa cruised to the finish and claimed his 8th career win. This win also means Massa now leads the championship for the first time in his F1 career …
Felipe Massa took advantage of Raikkonen’s mechanical problems and won the the 2008 French GP. As a result of his win Massa also takes the lead of the drivers championship, the first Brazilian to do so since Ayrton Senna. Despite quite some damage to his exhaust pipe and big hole his Ferrari Raikkonen managed to come home at 2nd. Jarno Trulli survived the challenge from Heikki Kovalainen and gave Toyota the first podium of the season and first for the team since 2006 Australian GP. Kovalainen however will not be too happy with Trulli’s defending … Mark Webber finished in points again. Nelson Piquet broke his point scoring duck and finished 7th, ahead of Fernando Alonso.
2008 French F1 GP race result:
1. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:31:50.245
2. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari + 17.984
3. Jarno Trulli – Toyota + 28.250
4. Heikki Kovalainen – McLaren + 28.929
5. Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber + 30.512
6. Mark Webber – Red Bull + 40.304
7. Nelson Piquet – Renault + 41.033
8. Fernando Alonso – Renault + 43.372
Join us for live blog debate covering French GP Formula 1 race ! This live blog has now finished, you can replay it inside this post !
Kimi Raikkonen will start the French GP from pole position, his second of the season and 200th for Ferrari in F1. Felipe Massa will line up alongside him after being only few hundreds slower. There will be unusual second row – Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli. Alonso will sure fancy his podium chances now …
With Hamilton dropping 10 places from his P3 McLaren will have to do with Kovalainen’s P5 and Kovalainen’s 5 place penalty for impeding Webber, McLaren are in for some tough time. This was not the best of qualifying sessions for BMW Sauber – Kubica will be on P6, Heidfeld did not even make the cut to Q3 … Timo Glock and both Red Bulls make up the rest of the top ten. Well, almost, Nelson Piquet will take up P10 P9 after Hamilton’s and Kovalainen’s penalties …
Toro Rosso did well for most of the weekend but not when it mattered the most and both cars got elimitaned in Q2. They still did better than the Hondas though … Nico Rosberg just about made it to Q2 but P15 combined with his 10 place grid penalty will see him starting from the very back of the grid …
French GP Qualifying Results:
1. K. Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:16.449
2. F. Massa – Ferrari – 1:16.490
3. L. Hamilton – McLaren – 1:16.693 (will be demoted 10 places)
4. F. Alonso – Renault – 1:16.840
5. J. Trulli – Toyota – 1:16.840
6. H. Kovalainen – McLaren – 1:16.944 (will be demoted 5 places)
7. R. Kubica – BMW Sauber – 1:17.037
8. M. Webber – Red Bull – 1:17.233
9. D. Coulthard – Red Bull – 1:17.426
10. T. Glock – Toyota – 1:17.596
Welcome to the live blog debate covering the 2008 French Formula 1 GP qualifying session ! Join the debate below: This live blog has now finished. You can replay the discussion inside this post.
This looked like one of the sessions where the top drivers did not put their top speeds on display. The top spot went to Renault again – this time to Nelson Piquet. Renault do seem to have good package for their home Grand Prix … Vettel also continued to impress with 3rd place just behind Mark Webber of Red Bull proper. Eighteen drivers were separated by less than a second, only Force India cars lagged behind a bit more. It looks like we may have very interesting qualifying. The Q2 will be very interesting but already getting out of Q1 will not be easy …
Saturday Free Practice Times:
The 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 like dry race this weekend. Now it looks like there are again chances of rain and some thunderstors for this weekend, so thing may get interesting .
When predicting do not forget that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be demoted 10 places on the starting grid following their crashes in Montreal pitlane.
So place your predictions as usual in the comments below this post:
– Top eight finishers in the race
– Pole position
– Fastest lap
Do not forget – the predictions must be placed before the qualifying starts.
Welcome to the live blog debate covering the Saturday practice at magny Cours.
This live blog is now over, you can replay it inside this post.
Felipe Massa in Ferrari was the fastest man on the track in the first practice session in France. Hamilton, Kovalainen and Raikkonen lined up about 7 tenths behind him. Hamilton locked up few times, Kovalainen had nice wide trip over the gravel, Alonso’s engine blew up, Trulli showed us quite nice spin, Kubica was suffering from tyre graining…
The off track excursions continued in practice two. Hamilton, Trulli, Massa, Sutil, Piquet all went out to check out the gravel. Both Ferraris kept ahead of Hamilton in practice 2 but the fastest time and home glory for Renault went to Alonso. Sebastian Vettel finished the session at impressive 5th place. Kubica came 6th, just ahead of the second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen.
Practice 1 Times: