Formula 1 Insight

Thoughts on the French Grand Prix
I hate Fox TV. What gives them the right to delay showing the GP until the afternoon, presumably to gather a wider audience? They obviously have no idea how much anger and resentment this builds up in the only viewers in the States who will watch in the early hours of the morning if needs be: the fans. And I thought Bernie specified that the races must be shown live? Otherwise there would be no point in his silly idea of night races in Asia...

Scott at speed
Scott Speed

The slight benefit I gain from not seeing the race is that I watched live timing on for the first time (computer and TV in different rooms - impossible to watch both at the same time). And that gave me the opportunity to keep an eye on other drivers beside the front runners. It can be quite interesting to see how lap times vary during the race, gaps closing and opening, private battles missed by the TV director. It is some compensation, I suppose.

Clearly, the Ferraris are back and they had a slight but important performance advantage at Magny-Cours. And the start illustrated the slight weakness that has been detectable in Lewis Hamilton for some time - his starts are not quite as good as others'. The same could be said of Raikkonen but he nailed it this time, stealing second from Hamilton and staying there until strategy could put him ahead of Massa.

Although Massa complained after the race that traffic had kept him within reach of his team mate, it was the same for everyone; Kimi merely put in the quick laps when it mattered. And, in a way, it was pleasant to see Massa's mentor's tendency towards pit stop passes turned against the Brazilian. It sucks, doesn't it, mate...?

As usual, there was a fair bit of overtaking on a track that is not renowned for such moves. Alonso was "the man" in this regard and I shared his frustration that all his hard work was negated by bad timing of his stops, dropping him behind drivers he had already dealt with earlier. In fact, McLaren managed their strategy very poorly this time, the strange decision to put Hamilton on three stops obviously a failure. Somehow I don't think they will try that again.

It was good to see Button scoring a point for Honda at last and he was quite correct to point out that the car's race performance was as good as the BMW's; the lap times showed that. If they can get the qualifying sorted out, they might well be in for a few more points before the season's end.

I will admit that I spent a lot of time watching Scott Speed's progress, however. Liuzzi was out almost immediately, through no fault of his own, but Scott demonstrated once again that he has learned the first lesson of F1: to finish first, first you have to finish. He has had no retirements this year through his own mistakes or bad judgement and appears to be concentrating on getting the car through the whole race. Staying out of trouble can mean that occasionally one has to give up a place or two, as happened in this race, but events came back to him and he was running in 15th spot, his grid position, when the gearbox gave up the ghost. He was at the tail end of the bunched-up midfield battle for most of the race and his lap times were pretty much the same as theirs, sometimes quicker sometimes slower.

So Scott is getting the job done. Unfortunately, the Adrian Newey design seems to have dropped a little behind the rest, the Red Bulls being not much better than the Toro Rosso, if anything. They do say that Magny-Cours is an odd track, producing unexpected fluctuations in performance of the cars, so perhaps things will improve for RB and TR in the remaining races. I can only hope so.


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