Despite the momentum BMW Sauber might have gained with its victory two weeks ago in Canada, Ferrari was back to business as usual when the checkered flag fell on the French Grand Prix.
It was Kimi Raikkonen’s race to lose, and that’s just what happened, through no fault of his own. His Ferrari blew an exhaust stack during the race and the Finn was forced to relinquish his position to teammate Felipe Massa, who easily controlled the pace to take the victory. Raikkonen brought his ailing car home in a strong 2nd.
Our boys from BMW didn’t fare so well. They never quite had the pace during the weekend, and the race didn’t do them any favors. Though Robert Kubica got away well when the lights went out, 5th was all he could manage by the end. He neither gained nor lost ground, which cannot be said for Nick Heidfeld, who never quite came to grips with the Magny-Cours circuit and finished a disappointing 12th.
McLaren ace Lewis Hamilton beat himself on the day, and a drive-through penalty for cutting the chicane, coupled with his ten-place grid penalty, meant he was never a factor.
Congrats to Jarno Trulli and the entire Toyota team, who took a strong 3rd place result and dedicated it to Toyota’s F1 pioneer Ove Andersson, who was killed in his rally car earlier in the week. Full race results are here, driver's standings here, and constructor's standings here.
If anything, the French GP served only to confirm Ferrari’s strength against the rest of the field. I cannot count out McLaren, who must certainly change its luck in a hurry. And I have to think BMW Sauber will see another top step this season. But heading into the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 6, Ferrari heads BMW in the constructor’s championship by 17 points, and Felipe Massa has jumped ahead of Kubica to stand atop the driver’s championship.
Ferrari has the momentum now, and history shows us that can be a dangerous thing.