Kimi Raikkonen sweeps victory in Magny-Cours
Raikkonen leads Massa to give Ferrari a sweep of the top two places, ending McLaren's winning streak at three Formula One races.Updated: Jul 02, 2007, 00:03 IST
Kimi Raikkonen hopes it is the beginning of a revival for himself as much as for Ferrari. Raikkonen led Felipe Massa to give Ferrari a sweep of the top two places at the French Grand Prix on Sunday, ending McLaren's winning streak at three Formula One races.
"Finally! Everything went the right way in my race," Raikkonen said. "It took longer than expected. We knew what our problems were and the works are paying off now."
Raikkonen started third on the grid, moved to second, and then overtook Massa at the second pit stop with 27 laps to go to cruise to his second F1 win this season, after the Australian GP, and his 11th overall.
It was the first Ferrari victory since Massa won at Spain in May. Last year, Michael Schumacher and Massa led a Ferrari 1-2 in qualifications and the race. It helped to kick-start Schumacher's comeback where he almost overhauled Alonso in the final race of the season.
Now, Raikkonen is hoping for the same sort of revival. "We didn't expect to have the problems that we had in the last few races, so I think we are back where we expected to be," Raikkonen said. "It's nice, we (have) had a bit of a hard time. I kind of expected to have a hard time and don't always expect to have good results."
The Finn timed 1 hour, 30 minutes, 54.200 seconds on the 4.41-kilometer (2.74-mile) circuit, nearly 2 1/2 seconds ahead of Massa and 32 seconds in front of series leader Lewis Hamilton in third place.
Robert Kubica, who survived an horrific crash at the Canadian GP and missed the subsequent United States GP, which Hamilton both won, took fourth for BMW-Sauber. Kubica was cleared to race Thursday after hurting his ankle when he crashed hard into two walls in Montreal.
Hamilton now has eight straight podium finishes in his rookie F1 season - two wins, four seconds and two thirds - to lead the drivers standings with 64 points.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who won the Monaco GP before Hamilton's two wins, finished 56.5 seconds behind Raikkonen in seventh place after starting from 10th following gearbox problems with his McLaren in qualifying.
Alonso remains second overall with 50, followed by Massa with 47 and Raikkonen with 42.
"I am contesting the world championship, so I had to do whatever I could today and was not worried about the risks," Alonso said.
"It is a disappointing result, but we will have to look to improve next week."
Despite morning rain, the track was dry for the start and Raikkonen had overtaken Hamilton by the first corner to trail only pole-sitter Massa.
"I don't like being overtaken. It is the first race I was overtaken," Hamilton said. "But the fact is I finished on the podium again. I extended my lead in the championships, so I couldn't be happier."
Alonso had moved up to seventh by the third lap, but he remained stuck behind Nick Heidfeld's BMW-Sauber.
"We knew it would be difficult starting 10th with a fuel strategy that was originally aiming for a top-three grid position," Alonso said.
"This meant that at the pit stops I was changing positions and ending up behind those I have already passed." At halfway through the race on the 35th lap, after the first pit stops, Massa was 2 seconds ahead of Raikkonen with Hamilton about 7 seconds behind.
The situation changed after the 43rd lap. Massa's pit stop took 9 seconds. Raikkonen drove for three further laps, gaining a second as his car carried less fuel, and then took only 7.8 seconds to refuel at the end of the 46th lap to forge ahead.
With 22 laps to go, Raikkonen led by about 2 seconds and he was never seriously challenged after that.
"I lost the race today because of the traffic," Massa said. "I was so disappointed with the traffic. I lost so much time. You lose so much downforce and then you lose speed. When I was alone I had the speed. As long as I passed the traffic I was all right." Raikkonen agreed - to an extent.
"For sure, the traffic didn't help anyone today," he said. "Sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are not." Sunday's race could be the last in Magny Cours. Due to financial problems, the French Automobile Sports Federation will decide July 19 whether a race will be held in 2008.
The next race is the British GP on July 8.