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Victory puts Raikkonen and Ferrari firmly back in the title hunt 01 Jul 2007

The podium (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, second; Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari, race winner; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 1 July 2007 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07 celebrates his fourth position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 1 July 2007 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R27 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 battle for position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 1 July 2007 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2007 leads at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 1 July 2007

Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Ferrari routed McLaren in Magny-Cours in Sunday’s French Grand Prix, finishing more than half a minute ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.

The red cars opted for a two-stop strategy, Hamilton for three, but once the Englishman lagged off the dirty side of the grid at the start it was all over. Massa out-dragged him to the first corner, and so did Raikkonen.

The Brazilian then led until his second stop, but a heavier fuel load allowed his Finnish team mate to run crucially longer and he emerged from his own stop three laps later with a lead he preserved to the end. It was his second victory of the season.

Further back Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld grabbed another nine points for BMW Sauber with fourth and fifth places, the latter having some gripping duels with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The world champion, who started tenth after his qualifying woes, was out of luck, finishing seventh (after a long second stop) behind Giancarlo Fisichella’s hard-driven Renault, so his two points leave him now 14 adrift of Hamilton, who moved up to 64. Massa’s second place leaves him third in the world championship on 47, but Raikkonen jumps closer with 42. In the constructors’ fight, McLaren have 114 points to Ferrari’s 89.

The final point went to Jenson Button and Honda, who turned in a solid performance that confirmed that the RA107 has improved. It was the first point of the season for both.

Behind them, Nico Rosberg had a pointless run to ninth for Williams, ahead of a lapped Ralf Schumacher in the Toyota, Honda’s Rubens Barrichello, the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and David Coulthard, Alex Wurz in the Williams, Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen, Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri and Adrian Sutil, who started from the pit lane after problems with his Spyker on the grid.

The race went wrong for Vitantonio Liuzzi and Anthony Davidson in the second corner when the English Super Aguri driver savaged the Italian’s Toro Rosso, while further round the lap Toyota’s Jarno Trulli ruined his and Kovalainen’s races by hitting the back of the Renault. Like Liuzzi and Davidson, he was a retirement. Scott Speed’s Toro Rosso failed on him - a suspected problem with the team’s new seamless-shift transmission - and Christijan Albers retired his Spyker after dramatically taking the refuelling rig with him when he left the pits after his second stop. The mechanic he dragged over in the process mercifully escaped serious injury.

The result shows that the championship fight is far from over between Ferrari and McLaren, and after the red cars’ speed in testing last week at Silverstone, Hamilton heads home with slightly less bright prospects of becoming the first rookie to win his national Grand Prix.