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French Grand Prix Qualifying

With the two Ferraris taking the front row of the grid at Magny-Cours, it looks as though Bridgestone’s sudden leap in performance at Indy was not purely the result of Michelin’s going conservative for that race. The Toyotas’ fourth and sixth grid slots confirm this.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

If Bridgestone really do have an edge now, Alonso will have to make sure that he finishes every race for the rest of the season. He did a good job today, hounding the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher and swapping places with it in his efforts to secure pole, but it wasn’t enough even to contain Felipé Massa. We should have a good race on Sunday.

The final qualifying session also vindicated the FIA’s decision to reduce the time allowed from 20 minutes to 15. From the moment Alonso shot ahead of Michael at the start, things remained hectic and exciting.

Away from the battle for pole, other interesting things were happening too. Pedro de la Rosa kept a cool head and qualified his McLaren eighth, only two slots behind his team leader, Raikkonen. And David Coulthard showed that there is life in the old soldiers yet, making it into the final ten in the Red Bull.

The big disappointment was the lack of performance from the BMW Saubers; after being fastest in the morning session, Villeneuve was out after Q1 and Heidfeld followed soon after. Jacques explained that they had gambled by using the soft tires and it hadn’t worked out – he and Heidfeld now face a long race from poor grid positions and on rapidly-degenerating tires.

Some are suggesting that the other cars will soon sprout vertical wings like the BMW’s but, on this showing, there isn’t much (if any) advantage to be gained from them. I suppose there may be some truth in the claim that they make the BMW a little more stable under braking – which says to me that BMW thought they had a problem in that area. Not everyone else does.

Finally, Scott Speed managed to haul the Toro Rosso into Q2, beating his highly-rated teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, in the process. Understandably however, that was as far as he could go and he ended up in 15th place on the grid.

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