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Raikkonen leads Ferrari revival at Magny Cours

NEWS STORY
01/07/2007

Just three weeks after Robert Kubica's horrific accident at Montreal, motor racing's powers that be had further cause to give themselves a pat on back yesterday when GP2 racer Ernersto Viso - in his first race of the 2007 season having been brought in to replace Sergio Jimenez at Racing Engineering - escaped virtually unscathed from an accident that we thought would prove to be fatal.

It was one of those accidents that makes one sick to the pit of one's stomach, one of those accidents that makes one wonder why one follows such a sport.

Thankfully, however, the young Venezuelan escaped with a few bruises and mild concussion, and there is every reason to believe that he will be back in action at Silverstone next week. Not for nothing does it say on the back of all passes and tickets; 'motor racing is dangerous'.

There were plenty of other incidents during yesterday's race, and on reflection perhaps Formula One has outgrown Magny-Cours.

Of course, the reason Bernie Ecclestone is seeking pastures new is more about money and the comfort of his corporate guests. However, in much the same way as we in Britain should not become complacent following three failed terrorist attacks in two days, motor sport must too remain on its toes, for as we learned at Imola in 1994 when it does go wrong it goes wrong with catastrophic consequences.

It looks as though the weathermen have got it right and that we will see some rain during this afternoon's race, indeed we could see a lot of it. Heavy overnight rain left that track damp for this morning's GP2 race, while the Porsche Supercup took place in pouring rain which made the track extremely difficult.

This will be good news not only for Fernando Alonso, who starts from tenth on the grid following gearbox problems in qualifying, but also for race fans who haven't had a wet race since China last year. We all know that rain is the great leveller, which means we could see a freak podium later this afternoon. Then again, it often brings out the best, and indeed worst, in drivers.

A wet Grand Prix would also give us the opportunity to see how Lewis Hamilton shapes up when things aren't running totally according to plan, and a good result might silence the few remaining sceptics.

Putting the weather aside for now, it is clear that Ferrari has discovered its early season form, having dominate almost every practice session, and taken first and third on the grid. Last week Luca di Montezemolo called for the real Kimi Raikkonen to step forward, and though the Finn has trailed his Brazilian teammate for much of the weekend thus far, there does appear to be a little more hunger in the eyes.

Robert Kubica looks to have fully recovered from his Canada accident, and the subsequent rest hasn't dulled his skills, fourth on the grid is his best F1 qualifying position to date. In all honesty, Heidfeld hasn't looked to good this weekend, and it appears he may still not have shaken off that back pain. We would not be surprised to see him take an early bath today, leaving his Polish teammate to increase BMW's points tally.

Renault too appears to have made a step forward, though not as big as Ferrari. Team boss Flavio Briatore has said that he is targeting third place in the constructors' Championship, having clearly given up any hope of challenging McLaren and Ferrari.

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