French GP: Lap by lap report

The Formula One World Championship has reached it s eighth round and after 18 years, it looks like it s going to be the last time the F1 circus visits Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France.

Magny-Cours is a track with a variety of challenges for both drivers are cars at the start of the lap, there are three high-speed corners, followed by a hairpin and two high-speed chicanes, and most teams will run with medium-high levels of downforce. The track itself is renowned for being incredibly smooth therefore teams will run fairly low ride heights and stiff suspension to aid the cars aerodynamics. In terms of engines, Magny-Cours is not too demanding with drivers spending around 63 percent of each lap on full throttle. Bridgestone runs their soft and medium compound tyres here, and the majority of teams will run a two-stop strategy although three-stops is also a possibility.

With many believing this circuit favours Ferrari rather than McLaren, the BMWs appearing to be off the place, and lots of shuffling on the grid since qualifying Hamilton has been pushed back ten places thanks to his error at Canada, Kovalainen has been given a five place drop for blocking during qualifying, and Barrichello starting from the back of the grid thanks to a gearbox change and rain predicted, this year s French Grand Prix looks set to be an exciting affair.

All the drivers pull away on the parade lap without any problems. The cars take a long time to filter around the grid. The Ferrari s are left standing on the grid for a long time. Rain is predicted for the next 30 minutes.

Lap 1 Both Ferraris get a good start, Alonso is the biggest loser as Trulli and Kubica overtake him. Everyone gets around the first corner without any problems. Hamilton runs wide and cuts the chicane and passes Vettel will he be penalised for this move? Hamilton then lightly taps the rear of his team-mate Kovalainen. It s a bad start for DC, down to 11th from 7th. Alonso is all over the rear of Trulli.

Lap 2- Kovalainen is hassling Piquet for 8th place. Hamilton has dropped back slightly from his team-mate. Raikkonen leads from Massa, Trulli, Alonso, Kubica and Glock.

Lap 4 Barrichello is up to P17. Button is down to 20th the British driver has lost his front wing. Hamilton passes his team-mate for ninth place.

Lap 5 Button pits for a new front wing. It looks like he took some damage from a Force India and then the front wing came off when Button went over a kerb.

Lap 8 Race Control confirm they are investigating an incident with car 22 this is when Hamilton cut the chicane and possibly took a place from Vettel. Hamilton is still battling with Nelson Piquet for 8th place. Raikkonen is still leading the race comfortably and has a lead of over 3 seconds over his team-mate.

Lap 11 Trulli, who is still in third place, is pulling away from the Renault of Alonso who is being caught by Kubica.

Lap 13 Race Control confirm a drive-through penalty for Car 22, Lewis Hamilton, for cutting the chicane earlier in the race. Hamilton takes his drive-through penalty immediately and rejoins the race in 13th, just in front of the Williams of Nakajima.

Lap 15 Alonso pits from P4. As suspected, the Spaniard was running a very light car to help get himself up the grid in qualifying. He rejoins in 12th place.

Lap 17 Button pits for a second time. Hamilton is all over the back of Alonso.

Lap 18 Button retires from the race.

Lap 20 – Hamilton overtakes Alonso, clouting the Renault as he makes the manoeuvre. Hamilton then pits. After the pit-stop, Hamilton is lapped by Kimi Raikkonen. Trulli and Kubica pit from third and fourth respectively. Both remain on the harder tyre choice.

Lap 21 – Raikkonen pits from the lead. Sutil also pits. Raikkonen remains on the harder tyre. Massa now leads the race. Raikkonen rejoins in second. Glock pits for Toyota. The current top six are Massa, Raikkonen, Webber, Piquet, Kovalainen, Coulthard.

Lap 23 Massa pits from the lead. He too stays on the harder compound tyre. He rejoins the race in second place. Webber pits from third. He rejoins in 10th, just ahead of Alonso.

Lap 25 Piquet and Kovalainen pit. Kovalainen overtakes Piquet at the end of the pit-lane. Kovalainen rejoins in 10th, Piquet in 11th.

Lap 25 Coulthard pits from P3. He rejoins in 12th place.

Lap 27 Bourdais pits. He rejoins in 18th. Hamilton is stuck behind Rosberg who appears to be holding the McLaren up. Hamilton passes Rosberg easily at the hairpin. Rain is expected in the next few minutes.

Lap 29 Vettel and Heidfeld pit from P4 and P6. The pair rejoin in 12th and 13th.

Lap 33 Fisichella pits. Nakajima, Barrichello and Rosberg have yet to make their first pit-stops.

Lap 35 Massa is catching Raikkonen he is now just 3 seconds behind his team-mate. Raikkonen s slow laps appear to be because he was working his way through some traffic. Alonso is flying in fifth place, as is Vettel in 11th.

Lap 37 The gap between Massa and Raikkonen is now just 1.7 seconds. Has the Finnish driver got a problem?

Lap 38 The Finnish driver appears to have a problem with his exhaust one of the exhaust pipes appears to be flapping loose and appears to be burning a hole in the car. Surely the Finn won t be allowed to finish the race?

Lap 41 Rosberg pits he is the last man to make his first pit-stop.

Lap 43 Kovalainen passes Webber at the hairpin for P6. Alonso pits for his second pit-stop. He rejoins in 12th, just ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 45 Hamilton has caught Alonso. The pair are now scrapping over P12.

Lap 46 Kubica pits from P4. He swaps to the softer tyre. Raikkonen has picked up the pace and is now lapping just three or four tenths of a second slower than Trulli. He is around 10 seconds behind his team-mate.

Lap 47 Hamilton dives past Alonso at the hairpin for P12.

Lap 49 Webber and Glock pit.

Lap 50 Trulli pits from P3. He swaps to the softer tyres and rejoins in P4.

Lap 52 Raikkonen pits from P2, Kovalainen pits from P3. Both take on the softer compound tyre. Raikkonen rejoins in P2, Kovalainen P4.

Lap 53 Hamilton and Coulthard pit.

Lap 54 Massa pits from the lead. He rejoins the race at the front, comfortable ahead of his team-mate.

Lap 56 The biggest battle is currently for the last podium place. Trulli is just four seconds ahead of Kovalainen, who in turn is one and a half second ahead of Kubica. Raikkonen is over 18 seconds ahead of Trulli with just 14 laps to go.

Lap 57 It has started to rain. Barrichello pits. Hamilton passes Glock for P10. Lap times are starting to creep up by around a second to a second and a half.

Lap 59 Trulli is under increasing pressure from Kovalainen who is all over the rear of the Toyota.

Lap 60 The rain has stopped for the time being. Trulli having to defend hard from Kovalainen. Kubica is right on the rear of the McLaren as the three drivers fight for P3, P4 and P5.

Lap 61 Raikkonen s loose exhaust finally flies off. Raikkonen is now 15 seconds behind his team-mate, and just under 22 seconds ahead of Trulli. Massa puts in a couple of super-quick laps in the high 1:17s. Everyone else is lapping in the 1:18s or more.

Lap 67 Trulli is still holding off Kovalainen. Kubica has dropped back slightly and is now around 2 seconds behind Kovalainen.

Lap 69 Piquet makes a pass on team-mate Alonso after the Spaniard makes a mistake. Kovalainen tries to make a pass on Trulli at the chicane the two are wheel to wheel at 180mph. Trulli has the racing line and Kovalainen has to run over the chicane.

Lap 70 Felipe Massa takes the chequered flag, his third win of the season and eighth of his career. Raikkonen finishes in second having nursed his Ferrari home. Trulli has held off Kovalainen to take the final podium position. Kubica is fifth, Webber sixth. Piquet wins his first ever Formula One points. Alonso takes the final point of the race.

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