Hi folks...

After the back-to-back events in North America, we now return to Europe and, following a weekend off, we have another double-header on the horizon, this time in France and Britain.

We begin with a trip to Magny-Cours and the big question, of course, is can Lewis Hamilton make in three in a row in France after his back-to-back wins in Canada and the USA?

I think there is a great possibility that he can do just that and, after seeing him win the last two events, there is no reason to think that another one is not on the cards.

As for Fernando Alonso, it has definitely got to the stage where the Spaniard understands that he has now got a team-mate quite capable of matching him.

What we don't know yet though is whether Lewis is going to be capable of matching him in terms of going for the world championship. That is something that we are going to have the privilege of seeing develop.

Certainly, Alonso has voiced concerns and is feeling a bit of pressure - but that has stemmed from the fact Lewis is doing such a great job.

As for the last event at Indy, it was, in my view, a good race. There was lots going on throughout the field - and there were 'smaller races inside the bigger race'. Again, Hamilton had an outstanding weekend, a faultless grand prix. He didn't make any mistakes and that is still the most remarkable element. Alonso looked exactly where he ended up - second best to Lewis.

Ferrari, meanwhile, struggled to match the McLarens, but I expect the Scuderia to be closer this weekend - and the following one at Silverstone. The Maranello outfit has started to understand where it has been lacking and has been working hard on that. It has had some good results in France and GB in the past too and those events might suit its car slightly more.

It is difficult to say if Ferrari is going to be a dominant force against McLaren-Mercedes though, because McLaren is progressing and is very strong at the moment.

Away from the track, Ferrari has also been distracted and in the news following confirmation that it is taking legal action against former engineer Nigel Stepney.

That is very difficult to understand. I can't see why somebody would go to the kind of levels that has been alleged just because they have a gripe after being overlooked for a job - that seems to be the root of what has been reported.

There is obviously a long way to go before we see the outcome of this, but I can't believe that Ferrari's pace - or lack of it - is being put down to one individual.

Certainly, in Italy, it is a huge story at the moment, but it makes little sense to me personally. But, then, that is Formula 1 in many respects - we don't always understand things until they have happened.

Back to this weekend, and the fight for victory will certainly be between McLaren and Ferrari. On current form, you have got to go with the McLaren MP4-22 suiting the circuit best. The way it is operating - on all sorts of track at the moment, and the confidence inside the team and its drivers, could be the crucial factor.

But, as I say, I think the Ferrari F2007 will be a little bit stronger than of late and I wouldn't write Felipe Massa or Kimi Raikkonen off under any circumstances.

As for Magny-Cours itself, it is not one of the best places to get to for a grand prix. It is a little bit remote and it doesn't lend itself to having a great crowd. It has not really promoted itself as being a great circuit in many ways, although it is quite a nice circuit to drive. I know it well from my Ligier days.

For Renault, as it is one of its 'home' tracks, it is an important meeting and the regie will be up there, chasing the top two, along with BMW Sauber.

BMW seems to have made real improvements of late. It is improving in qualifying and race pace is getting some what stronger too. Furthermore, while success won't happen over night, I am sure the team is working to get to the front of the grid as quickly as possible. It is doing a great job and performing very well.

Sebastien Vettel, of course, stood in for Robert Kubica in the USA after the Pole's big crash in Canada, and the German had a very good debut. He put in a very solid performance and, for a 19-year old to jump in and bring the car home and get some mileage under his belt, it was impressive.

He had a slight hiccup at the start but, of course, it was his first grand prix start and he had no reference to understand where to go in and brake. So, overall, I think he did very well.

That is the kind of thing you expect these days though, and the only downer for him now is that we expect so much from a rookie following everything that Hamilton has managed this year.

Kubica should be back racing this weekend, and I don't think he will be affected by that accident in Montreal. Most drivers have big accidents at some point in their career and most of them come back and get on with the job. It is like falling off a bike. You get up, dust yourself off and get back on it again. That is the way you have to be. If you focus or dwell too much on it, then that is the time to think about not racing any more. I don't anticipate Kubica will do anything other than drive flat out.

As for Renault, it is starting to understand the R27 more, while the team is also getting a bit more strength and building a steady platform, especially with Heikki Kovalainen performing well in the number two machine.

I think it was just a case of time for Heikki to get a strong result under his belt and we have seen that two times running now.

That will help the team grow and get back to where it thinks it should be. Over the last few years, that has been winning grands prix and world championships and, while it still has a big mountain to climb, it is definitely en route.

The others likely to be fighting for points this weekend should include Red Bull and possibly even Honda. I would like to see Honda getting stronger and we are all anticipating that it will have a better package after some heavy revisions. The team tested at Jerez last week and it will be interesting to see what difference the alterations make.

Overall, though, I think the big four of the moment are going to mop up the majority of the points. Indeed, for my prediction, I am going to put Massa down for pole and then go with Fernando Alonso for the race win, followed by Massa and Hamilton in second and third.

Enjoy the race - next stop Silverstone!

MB

 

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