Massa wins thanks to Kimi's exhaust

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Nevers Magny-Coursfr

Felipe Massa has easily won the French GP at Magny-Cours. While Ferrari was dominant in the race, Kimi Raikkonen was ahead until he suffered an exhaust problem and failed to hold on to his lead. The Finn finished second while Trulli got on the podium and succesfully marked Toyota's tribute to Ove Andersson.

At the start of this French GP, the weather is warm but there is a chance of rain in the coming 30 minutes. That doesn't prevent the Ferraris to blast away to hold on to their first and second places on the grid.

Fernando Alonso who started from 3th immediately lost 2 places but was able to retake Kubica at the hairpin after the straight.

More in the middle of the field, Hamilton did a good job by gaining 3 places in the first lap. On the sixth lap he is also allowed to pass his teammate in order put pressure on Nelson Piquet who is 8th. Hamilton is on the softer option tyre and should be able to pass the Renault despite Renault's high top speeds at this circuit.

Jenson Button meanwhile had a problem somewhere on the circuit and lost his front wing. He made a stop in lap 7 to have a new nose fixed. Upon re-enty on the circuit, he immediately had to keep an eye on the race leaders to let them pass.

In lap 13, Hamilton is given a drive through penalty after passing Sutil by cutting a chicane. It is remarkable that he didn't let Sutil pass again at the time of the event.

2 laps later, Alonso is the first to come into the pitlane and gets scrubbed prime tyres. He rejoins the track in 12th place, just behind Nick Heidfeld and ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Lap 18 marks the end of the race for Button. It has been a weekend to forget quickly for the Briton.

Then Hamilton comes in for his first stop and finds himself lapped when he is out again. Kimi Raikkonen quickly follows suit while Massa completed an additional 2 laps. He rejoins behind Raikkonen and has even lost time to his teammate due to being held up by Lewis Hamilton.

In lap 25, both Piquet and Kovalainen come into the pitlane. They complete their stops in a similar timespan but when both cars are allowed to accellerate again, Piquet visibly has a problem switching off the pitlane limiter and is passed immediately by the McLaren.

At the same time, Webber puts his foot down the throttle slightly too early and almost spins into the pitwall. He is able to recover his car but must accept to Alonso pass by.

As of lap 34, Raikkonen appears to have a problem as he suddenly loses one second a lap to his teammate. In lap 36 he is also the slowest man on track, more than a second slower than his usual pace. His pace even slows more towards 1:20, almost 3 seconds slower than Massa. Apparently, the right exhaust pipe of his Ferrari has broken, generating both an aerodynamic as well as an engine performance deficit. In lap 38 Massa takes over the lead and rapidly pulls away from his struggling teammate.

In lap 42, Massa is ahead of Raikkonen by 5.5 seconds. Behind him, there is a gap of 24 seconds to Trulli and Kubica while Alonso was also just 2 seconds behind them before making a stop in that lap.

As the other drivers also make their second stops, it turns out that Kubica and Alonso are worst off. Alonso for instance saw Webber and Kovalainen pass by. Trulli on the other hand is never far ahead of the 4th placed driver, but never really gets under threat. He is driving in 3rd place since the second corner of the first lap of the race.

With 14 laps to go and after several predictions, it starts to rain at several places around the track. Very rapidly, Alonso is on Webber's tail, trying to pick up an extra point for 6th place. Trulli's third place also is under threat due to the rain as Kovalainen handled the conditions better. Kubica is also quickly behind the two.

Raikkonen is still in second place and appears to have found a good pace considering his exhaust problem. After the loose exhaust part flew off, his pace improved again, being regularly 1 second slower than the race leading Ferrari.

One lap to go, and Trulli just manages to stay just ahead of Kovalainen in a close fought battle at the entry of the second chicane.

Alonso meanwhile lost his 7th place to his teammate Piquet after going slightly too wide in a battle with Webber. It marks the first time that Piquet is ahead of Alonso at the finish line, but it must be said that was mostly due to a failed pitstop strategy for Alonso's Renault.


1F. MassaFerrari1:31:50.245
2K. RäikkönenFerrari+ 17.984
3J. TrulliToyota+ 28.250
4H. KovalainenMcLaren+ 28.929
5R. KubicaBmw+ 30.512
6M. WebberRed Bull+ 40.304
7N. Piquet jr.Renault+ 41.033
8F. AlonsoRenault+ 43.372
9D. CoulthardRed Bull+ 51.072
10L. HamiltonMcLaren+ 54.521
11T. GlockToyota+ 57.738
12S. VettelScuderia Toro Rosso+ 58.011
13N. HeidfeldBmw+ 1:02.013
14R. BarrichelloHonda+ 1 laps
15K. NakajimaWilliams+ 1 laps
16N. RosbergWilliams+ 1 laps
17S. BourdaisScuderia Toro Rosso+ 1 laps
18G. FisichellaForce India F1+ 1 laps
19A. SutilForce India F1+ 1 laps
Did not finish
20J. ButtonHonda+ 52 laps