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2005 Formula 1 French Grand Prix
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Track Layout (from the FIA)

Resuming normal operations ?

The events at the United States Grand Prix have certainly damaged the sport particularly in the United States and whoever you may feel like blaming, the bottom line is that F1 should have put on a show and it failed. The interests of individuals became more important than the interests of the sport and that should have never happened.

The 7 Michelin teams who pulled out at the end of the formation lap have been summoned by the FIA and on Wednesday will learn what kind of punishment they will receive.

Fernando Alonso - Renault R25 - 2005

For operations to return to normal, a fine with a suspended ban would most likely be accepted by the teams. Anything more will most likely mean further disruptions. Lets hope operations return to normal. This preview assumes that!

The French Grand Prix will again see a fight between Renault and McLaren with Renault having a slight edge on this kind of track. Ferrari, Toyota, Williams and BAR will be slightly behind but expect them to be very close to each other. Red Bull will get the better of Sauber on this track while the new Jordan will easily be ahead of the Minardi.

The race last year was a tight one with a close fight between Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso fought out on strategy. Michael on 4 stops beat Fernando who was on 3. This year Fernando has a chance but it is going to be hard for Michael.

The track at Magny-Cours is a high downforce circuit offering a combination of low and high speed corners. Traction and rear tyre degradation are important considerations for the low speed corners while car balance is important for the high speed corners.
Lap times are highly influenced by the track temperatures and that creates a challenge for the teams and drivers to find the right setup.
Overtaking is very difficult on this track. One opportunity is at the Adelaide hairpin at the end of the back straight, where the cars go from around 320 km/H down to just 50 km/H.
Tyre wear is high and we could again see cars struggling towards the end of the race.

Here is a team by team review:

Renault: Should be strong at their home race and provided there cars are reliable, we could see the first 1-2 finish for Renault this year. Difficult but possible.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest Renault Team News)

Drivers: Fernando Alonso took an impressive pole at the French Grand Prix last year and finished second behind Michael Schumacher. Can go one better this year. His main rivals will be his team-mate and Kimi Raikkonen.

Giancarlo Fisichella is due for a change of fortune and that may well be at the home race of his team. He could win this race although a podium finish is more likely!

McLaren: They appeared strong in the US and will continue to be strong here at Magny Cours however expect Renault to have a slight advantage. 
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest McLaren Mercedes Team News)

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen will be ready to resume his fight with Alonso for the title and build a buffer to those close behind. A win is possible.

Juan Pablo Montoya will be attempting to close the gap to the front runners and will most likely improve from his 11th position in the Championship. Points likely, podium difficult.

Ferrari: Jump into equal second in the Championship following a 1-2 finish in Indy and 0 points for all their rivals. Last year they didn't dominate here and this year it will be a difficult race for them. They are likely to maintain their place though as neither Toyota nor Williams will do much better.
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10  (Latest Ferrari Team News)

Drivers: Michael Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix after fighting with his team-mate until the second stop. Serious competition should return here and it will be very hard for Michael to finish on the podium. Points likely.

Rubens Barrichello felt that he should have won the US Grand Prix and was disappointed to finish second behind Michael. That was probably one of his best chances at winning this year. It will be a difficult race here. Points likely, podium hard! 

Williams: Fourth in the championship on equal points with Toyota. They are introducing new parts for the race here at Magny-Cours. The decision at BMW to takeover Sauber means there will be uncertainty at Williams and that would be a negative. 
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest Williams BMW Team News)

Drivers: Nick Heidfeld drops to 6th in the Drivers Championship following the US GP. He'll go out early in qualifying and that will affect his starting position. Points will be difficult.

Mark Webber will be keen to return to good form following a number of poor results. He had a good race here last year finishing 9th in the Jaguar and may have a chance of closing the gap to his team-mate.

Toyota: Missed out on a potentially strong performance at the US Grand Prix due to the tyres. They won't be as competitive on this circuit.   
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest Toyota Team News)

Drivers: Jarno Trulli lost third place following the US Grand Prix. He grabbed Pole there but we'll never know how much fuel he really had. He has a reasonable qualifying slot which will help him but Pole will only be possible here if he is light. Points possible.

Ralf Schumacher pulled out of the race at Indy due to his crash on Friday. In the end it didn't really matter as all the Michelin teams pulled out. He didn't race here last year as he was recovering from his injuries sustained from the US Grand Prix. That will be a disadvantage, he will also be the first out so expect him to struggle. Points will be very hard.

Red Bull: Sit comfortably in 6th place far behind Williams and Toyota and reasonably ahead of Sauber. They'll have a better chance of scoring points than Sauber here but that will only happen if those ahead struggle.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10 (Latest Red Bull Racing Team News)

Drivers: David Coulthard has been very consistent in finishing with only 1 retirement this season (not counting the US pullout). He enjoys the Magny-Cours track and will do well. Enough for points ? Unlikely!

Christian Klien will again be very close to his team-mate but points will be very difficult.

Sauber: Another team that missed out on an opportunity to do well at Indy. They will struggle on this track as their car doesn't seem to be suited to high downforce circuits. The news that BMW will takeover will give the team a boost as they increase wind tunnel time as well as testing but the effects of that won't be felt on the car until late in the season. 
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10 (Latest Sauber Team News)

Drivers: Felipe Massa will try his best however it will be very tough for him to finish inside the top 10.

Jacques Villeneuve will have to prove to the new management that he is worth keeping. That will be hard!. He first needs to get the better of his team-mate and that has proven difficult so far!. Points will be very difficult.

Jordan: Move to just 1 point behind Sauber! It will require another bizarre race for that to change in favour of Jordan despite their new car! 
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10 (Latest Jordan Team News)

Drivers: Tiago Monteiro becomes the only driver to have finished all 9 races this season. He has gained the upper hand over his team-mate since the Monaco GP. Expect that to continue but don't expect more points! 

Narain Karthikeyan continues to struggle. It appears that he is losing confidence and is unable to regain it. If that continues he could be out of his seat before the season ends. There was talk about Frank Montagny driving for Jordan here but nothing has been confirmed at this stage.

Minardi: Are 9th in the Championship ahead of BAR Honda. They are unlikely to score any more points this season though. Interesting that Minardi also scored their only points of the season last year at Indianapolis!
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.0/10 (Latest Minardi Team News)

Drivers: Christijan Albers finished ahead of his team-mate at the United States Grand Prix and that almost guarantees him a better place in the Championship!. A finish inside the top 10 would be like winning. Unexpected!

Patrick Freisacher is starting to lose ground to his team-mate after having a better start to the season. His aim will be to beat his team-mate to the finish. 

BAR: The events at the United States GP pushed BAR back to 10th. They have been here before and will undoubtedly bounce back. They should finally score some points here.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest BAR Team News)

Drivers: Jenson Button finished 5th here last year and this year he could do even better. BAR need a good result this season and they may get one here. Points likely, podium difficult.

Takuma Sato like his team-mate is due for a good result. The Honda engine seems to be reliable and the car has been fast in testing. He just needs a bit of luck and he'll finish in the points. 

Bridgestone News - Michelin News

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