Formula 1 Insight

Practice in Magny Cours

The Ferraris had it all their own way today until a certain Spaniard was thrown into the works; Alonso's fastest was not expected, especially as Piquet was busily demonstrating how poor the Renault is this year. How does Fernando do it? I can see the team putting all their effort into his car and letting Nelsinho sink or swim but that does not explain Alonso's incredible performances.

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

Of course, it's only practice and the usual culprits will overtake him tomorrow. No doubt he will end up around fourth or fifth in qualifying, his point having been made today. But hats off to him, the man is a star and Uncle Flav's belief in him has been fully justified this year.

Meanwhile Alonso's nemesis, Hamilton, was unimpressive today, probably on a heavy fuel load to prepare for his ten grid spot penalty in the race and leaving it until last to go for a quick one. Even so, that was enough to beat Kovalainen's time at a GP where McLaren needs Heikki to be taking the fight to Ferrari. McLaren fans must hope for better tomorrow.

As usual, the Nevers circuit turns out to be a Ferrari track and Kimi and Felipe duly did battle at the front, unthreatened until Alonso produced his bombshell. For a while it looked as though Kimi would be on top but Massa was unconcerned and threw in a quick one when needed. I have given up trying to sort out who should be number one for the team and can only wonder what Alonso, Hamilton or Kubica would do with that car.

The Pole could have done with a Ferrari today, considering his problems with the BMW F1.08. Heidfeld was quicker for much of the second session with Kubica just pipping him towards the end. It does not look good for BMW, although this is normal for them on the first day; I think the car really does not like this circuit.

If Alonso was the big surprise of the day, the little one was Vettel and his amazing fifth fastest. He does seem to be able to do wonders in practice and Berger must be hoping that he will transfer that to the races from now on.

Otherwise, it was business as usual, Webber being the only driver obviously out of position in 16th. No doubt he will get back ahead of Coulthard tomorrow. But pity the poor Hondas, still struggling to get away from the Force Indias at the back. They knew that they would have difficulties at this track but cannot have anticipated that things would be this bad. Perhaps they have good reason to cling to KERS as a saviour for next year...


Alianora La Canta
I lobbed the practise data into my spreadsheet and it reckons that Alonso will be second on the grid tomorrow (behind only Massa - Hamilton would have edged Alonso out had he not received a 10-place penalty last time out). He is going like an express train here - and unlike Massa and Hamilton, Alonso looks unlikely to throw his car off the track. (I should explain that both Felipe and Lewis looked pretty messy when they weren't setting fastest laps, while Fernando was mostly smooth and unruffled).
Date Added: 20/06/2008

i haven't been keeping an eye on any testing-is it possible renault is finally onto something that they aren't quite ready to put on both cars for a race weekend? i am so ready to see alonso taking everyone on with a real chance of taking a win-or at least a podium finish.

Date Added: 20/06/2008

Andrew Boyers
Despite Renault's disappointing form for much of the season, I can see the potential for them getting on the podium this weekend.

Alonso's pace in second practice was impressive, and, given that this is Renault's home circuit, and the fact that the BMW's don't seem to be massively on the pace, if Renault are going to split the top three anywhere, it'll be here.

Piquet though, continues to be a massive disappointment. He had a number of offs, and still doesn't show a great deal of pace - surely the team must be losing patience with him - after all, other debutants, such as Rosberg, Hamilton and Kovalainen have all fared much better in their first seasons.
Date Added: 20/06/2008

Steven Roy
I can't see Alonso getting on the podium. He was taking massive risks and bouncing the car over kerbs and into the air to set the times he did. He can't do that for 70 laps or he will end up with carbon fibre spread over half of France.
Date Added: 20/06/2008

I tend to agree with Steven on this one - Alonso's effort was impressive but he can't keep that up for a whole race. I suppose he might just sneak on to the podium, if one or two drop out.

Piquet is there for his money and he will last the season because of that. Renault seem to be staying with the pace of development so Nelsinho still has a chance of redeeming himself, although thoughts of him staying with Alonso are now obviously ludicrous. I doubt he'll have a seat in F1 next year, however.
Date Added: 20/06/2008

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