Sunday, June 22, 2008

French Grand Prix - Magny Cours

It all goes wrong for Hamilton in France

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton always knew he was going to have a tough weekend at Magny-Cours, after picking up a ten-place grid penalty for his pit-lane misdemeanour in Canada, but he probably didn’t think it would be quite this tough.Even starting 13th, Hamilton was at least hoping for points, but after 70 laps of the French Grand Prix circuit the Englishman trailed home a lowly tenth, thanks in large part to a drive-through penalty for straight-lining Turn Seven on lap one as he completed a pass on Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel.Hamilton - and McLaren - believed he had already completed the pass before being forced wide over the chicane, but the stewards disagreed and decided he had gained an advantage. When he took the penalty on lap 13, he dropped from P9 to P13, effectively ending his chances of a top-eight finish.The only consolation for McLaren was a storming drive from Heikki Kovalainen, who himself had taken a five-place grid drop for impeding another driver during qualifying. The Finn came from tenth on the grid to finish fourth, with only some excellent defensive driving from Toyota’s Jarno Trulli keeping him off the podium.The result means Hamilton drops to fourth place in the drivers’ championship on 38 points, 10 behind new leader Felipe Massa, while Kovalainen lies sixth on 20.

Stunning Trulli putsToyota back on the podium

Toyota proved their return to form in Montreal a fortnight ago was no stroke of luck in Magny-Cours on Sunday, as Jarno Trulli secured the team’s first podium for three years. Trulli crossed the finish line third behind the dominant Ferraris of race winner Felipe Massa and second-placed Kimi Raikkonen.Toyota arrived in France motivated by their fourth and sixth in Canada and on Saturday the TF108’s strong pace continued, with Trulli and team mate Timo Glock both making it through to Q3. As Sunday’s race got underway things only got better. After a strong start, during which Trulli was able to pass the Renault of Fernando Alonso, the Italian settled into third, a position he had to work very hard to defend from McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen late in the race."What a great result and a great weekend by the whole team,” said Trulli. “Today was a great race, hard and tough. We had a good pace, even if we had to battle with some cars that were quicker than us. When the rain came at the end I had to take care because it's always difficult to judge how bad it is when you're in front.“But I got back into a rhythm and had a wheel-to-wheel fight with Heikki, just like in go-karts. The team made no mistakes this weekend, from the people in the factory who made the new parts on the car to the mechanics who did perfect pit stops today. There's still more to do but today we can be very satisfied. The team is doing a great job, the car is much more competitive and everyone is motivated. Things are moving on."Trulli’s podium is the Japanese team’s first since Ralf Schumacher finished third in the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix and the Italian’s first since that year’s Spanish race. The strong result was a fitting tribute to the team’s former principal Ove Andersson, who was killed recently during an historic car rally in South Africa."This is a fantastic day for everyone involved with Toyota Motorsport,” said Toyota team president John Howett. “It was our first podium for a long time so we dedicate it to Ove Andersson, who did so much for the team and will be greatly missed. "Congratulations to everyone involved both at the factory and in the race and test teams who have worked hard to improve the car. Of course we must now keep pushing really hard because our pace is still not matching the front-runners but we can be hugely satisfied with this result."Although Glock eventually finished outside the points in 11th, Trulli’s haul of six extends Toyota's points' tally to 23 and bolsters their fifth-place in the championship standings. The team are now just one point adrift of fourth-placed Red Bull.

No comments: