Alonso Wins for Renault in France

Alonso Wins for Renault in France

World Championship leader Fernando Alonso cruised to his fifth victory of the season in Magny-Cours on Sunday when he gave his Renault team their first home triumph in the French Grand Prix in 22 years.

Two weeks after the fiasco in the United States, which saw just six cars take the start, the Grand Prix grid was back on track but Alonso's dominance ensured there was only ever going to be one winner.

Spaniard Alonso started from his third pole position of the season and looked in control as soon as the lights went out as he lapped all but two of his rivals on his way to a fifth win of the year.

Kimi Raikkonen, the chasing challenger, did all he could to fight his way through the field but he could only claim second after an engine change in practice forced him to start from 13th on the grid.

Raikkonen's strong drive and McLaren's two-stop tactics ensured Alonso only extended his championship lead by two points but with more than half the season gone it was another opportunity lost for the Finn.

Michael Schumacher, who won the bizarre preceding race in the United States, claimed another podium finish, his fourth of the year, after benefiting from Juan Pablo Montoya's problems.

Unlucky McLaren driver Montoya looked set for a comfortable third place finish, his first podium for the team since he joined from Williams this year, but engine troubles forced him out of the race.

World Champion Schumacher's third consecutive top-three finish will keep him in the title hunt but Jenson Button, who finished third in the title race last year, was just happy to score some points.

Button claimed his first points of the season when he drove a steady race to finish fourth for BAR-Honda and, while the points were a start, they were not enough to pull the team up from the bottom of the table.

Jarno Trulli, who started from second on the grid in his Toyota, had to settle for fifth place after capitalising on Giancarlo Fisichella's mistake, which saw him drop down the field when he stalled in the pits.

Fisichella finished up sixth while Ralf Schumacher, who was injured in a crash at Indianapolis, claimed seventh in the second Toyota and Jacques Villeneuve scored a satisfying point in eighth for Sauber.

Williams had a disastrous race and finished outside the points after Nick Heidfeld pitted six times, claiming his car was impossible to drive, and Mark Webber suffered from a burning backside in the cockpit.

The race was run under blue skies in temperatures of 30 degrees, much hotter than earlier in the weekend, and it was a relief to see all the cars make a clean getaway from the grid.

Alonso immediately took the lead ahead of Trulli into the first corner as Barrichello moved past BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato to slot into fourth behind third-placed teammate Schumacher.

Montoya passed eighth-placed Button to claim seventh while Raikkonen, starting 13th after an engine change during practice, made up just one place from the start.

Christian Klien was the first retirement of the race when he stopped his Red Bull Racing machine at the side of the circuit after just one complete lap when the car shut down.

Raikkonen was into the top ten by lap three while Alonso strode out in front, taking a 1.4-second advantage over Trulli on the first lap and increasing the lead to seven seconds after five laps.

By lap 10 the gap was 14.1, with Schumacher hounding the back of Trulli's Toyota at the lead of a train of cars that were all trying to find a way past.

Barrichello pitted on lap 17 then Trulli and Schumacher both made their first stops together at the end of lap 18 and Ferrari short-fuelled the German to get him out ahead.

Leader Alonso pitted on lap 20, one lap after the team had trouble with his teammate Fisichella's fuel rig, and he came out ahead of McLaren pair Montoya and Raikkonen, who had yet to pit.

Schumacher settled into fifth with Trulli sixth ahead of Barrichello and the BAR-Honda pair of Button and Sato in seventh and eighth respectively.

Montoya stopped at the end of lap 25 and came out ahead of Schumacher then Sato dropped to ninth when he slid wide at the hairpin on lap 27 after trying to pass Trulli.

Raikkonen set some stunning fast laps before pitting at the end of lap 28 and he came out ahead of Montoya to maintain second place and start the chase of leader Alonso, 29.4 seconds ahead.

Felipe Massa pitted with hydraulic problems on his Sauber, going back out but eventually retiring, then Schumacher made his second stop at the end of lap 34 and came out still ahead of Trulli.

Patrick Friesacher posted the second retirement of the race when he steered his Minardi off the circuit on the leaders' 37th lap with a tyre problem.

Barrichello pitted from sixth at the end of lap 40, the same lap that Christijan Albers plunged straight into the barriers at high speed when he suffered a left rear tyre problem on his Minardi.

Race leader Alonso then pitted at the end of lap 41 and a smooth stop put him out clear in the lead but engine troubles hit the unlucky Montoya and he was forced to retire on lap 48.

Alonso lapped fourth-placed Barrichello on lap 49 as he continued his Sunday afternoon stroll with Raikkonen 12.9 seconds behind in second and Schumacher 47.6 seconds back in third.

Sato left the circuit again when he slid on some oil then Schumacher pitted at the end of lap 50 for his final stop, coming out in third to hold onto a potential podium finish.

Raikkonen pitted from second on lap 55 then Alonso made his final stop of the afternoon on lap 58, just as he closed in to lap teammate Fisichella, and he rejoined comfortably in the lead.

Fisichella then came in for his final stop at the end of lap 59 but he made a mistake and stalled his car, allowing Button up into fourth but 11 laps were not enough for him to chase down Schumacher for third.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The French Grand Prix Magny Cours, France; 70 laps; 308.586km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time  1. Alonso Renault (M) 1h31.22.233 2. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 11.805 3. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 1:21.914 4. Button BAR-Honda (M) + 1 lap 5. Trulli Toyota (M) + 1 lap 6. Fisichella Renault (M) + 1 lap 7. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) + 1 lap 8. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) + 1 lap 9. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 10. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth(M) + 1 lap 11. Sato BAR-Honda (M) + 1 lap 12. Webber Williams-BMW (M) + 2 laps 13. Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 14. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) + 4 laps 15. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) + 4 laps Fastest Lap: Raikkonen, 1:16.423 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 45 Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 38 Friesacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 34 Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 31 Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 2 World Championship Standing, Round 10: Drivers: Constructors:  1. Alonso 69 1. Renault 89 2. Raikkonen 45 2. McLaren-Mercedes 71 3. M.Schumacher 40 3. Ferrari 69 4. Trulli 31 4. Toyota 53 5. Barrichello 29 5. Williams-BMW 47 6. Heidfeld 25 6. Red Bull-Cosworth 22 7. Webber 22 7. Sauber-Petronas 13 8. R.Schumacher 22 8. Jordan-Toyota 11 9. Fisichella 20 9. Minardi-Cosworth 7 10. Coulthard 17 10. BAR-Honda 5 11. Montoya 16 12. Massa 7 13. Villeneuve 6 14. Wurz 6 15. Monteiro 6 16. Karthikeyan 5 17. Button 5 18. Albers 4 19. Klien 4 20. de la Rosa 4 21. Friesacher 3 22. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial 
Grapevine: Work Begins on Schumi's Mansion
Previous article

Grapevine: Work Begins on Schumi's Mansion

Next article

Button Welcomes First Points

Button Welcomes First Points
Load comments
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021