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French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours) 2002 French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours) 2002 review.
Story by Andrew Frampton.

Click here to see the qualifying times. Image by John Rigby.
Michael Schumacher joined Juan Manuel Fangio in the record books at the Magny-Cours circuit in France, recording his 61st race victory and with it, his fifth World Driver's Championship title. Although the German has dominated the championship this season, ironically he finally claimed the title in an event in which he was out-performed by his rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya. With just five laps of the race remaining, Schumacher assumed that he was destined to wait until his home race at Hockenheim to complete his task, before a controversial move on McLaren's Raikkonen gave him the race win and championship title.

Now almost as regular as Michael Schumacher race wins, Montoya recorded his fifth successive pole position of the season after an enthralling qualifying session. The Colombian set the pace right from the start of the session, setting provisional pole as Michael Schumacher made an uncharacteristic error in running off the road at the final chicane on his first run. Although Schumacher fought back on his second run to set the fastest time, Montoya bettered that on his third to move back to the top of the order. It all came down to the final runs, with the Colombian finding even more time to secure pole position, with Rubens Barrichello and Schumacher recording slower times.

Having dominated qualifying sessions in previous years, Schumacher was once again forced to take a back seat, lining up second ahead of Barrichello and Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher took fifth in his Williams, while McLaren's David Coulthard was once again overshadowed by his team-mate, the Scot lining up only sixth. Despite learning that his seat at Renault is to be taken by the highly-rated Fernando Alonso in 2003, Jenson Button claimed seventh on the grid, out-qualifying his Italian team-mate Jarno Trulli. Jaguar's recent work on their R3 chassis looked to have reversed the team's poor performances, with Eddie Irvine recording the car's first top ten grid position of the season in ninth position. His team-mate Pedro De La Rosa was not quite as successful, after problems that limited him to 15th place on the grid.

Nick Heidfeld took tenth position for Sauber, ahead of BAR's Olivier Panis - the highest placed Honda driver. His team-mate Jacques Villeneuve was thirteenth, behind Felipe Massa's Sauber, while the Jordan of Takuma Sato was fourteenth. His team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was one of three drivers who failed to qualify for the race, after doctors ordered the Italian to miss the event after a hefty practice shunt. The ongoing problems at Arrows continued in France, with Enrique Bernoldi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen purposely qualifying outside of the 107% cut-off time to avoid a fine for not taking part in the event, and also the costs in running the cars on raceday.

While Michael Schumacher may be enjoying another successful season, the same cannot be said of team-mate Barrichello, who recorded his sixth retirement of the season before the race had even started, when his car became stuck on its jacks and failed to fire up. The Brazilian's early exit reduced the number of starters to 18, the lowest number for over 25 years. Although Montoya does not have a good record of retaining his lead from pole position, a quick chop across the bows of Schumacher's Ferrari meant that he would retain first position into Grande Courbe, the first corner. Behind the battling duo, Raikkonen retained third position from Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard and Button. Felipe Massa had rocketed from 12th on the grid to 7th, but the young Sauber driver had jumped the start and was soon called in for a drive-through penalty.

Also in trouble were Sato and Panis, who collided at the first corner, delaying both drivers as they found the gravel trap. Despite Montoya, Schumacher and Raikkonen briefly running three abreast out of the Adelaide Hairpin on lap 3, the lead battle soon stagnated, with Montoya continuing to hold off the challenge of the champion elect. The Williams driver was the first of the front-runners to stop, doing so in a time of 8.4 seconds, a speed replicated by Michael Schumacher when he stopped three laps later. Although the Ferrari driver won the drag down to the Adelaide Hairpin, controversy raged after he drove across the white line that protects those exiting the pitlane from the main circuit. Earlier, Massa had been given a drive-through penalty for crossing the line, and while Schumacher easily extended his lead in the race, the crowd waited to see if he was to be penalised. Raikkonen, meanwhile, pitted from the lead of the event, and after a reasonable stop, rejoined the race in third position. With the French officials deeming Schumacher to have crossed the line, he was called in to serve his penalty, exiting the pits in third position, behind Montoya and Raikkonen.

Montoya was the first of the leading trio to make his second stop, but the Williams stop took three seconds longer than their previous attempt. This promoted Raikkonen back into the lead, with Schumacher soon making his third visit to the pits to complete his second tyre and fuel stop. His team was considerably faster in attending to the car, with the German resuming ahead of Montoya. Raikkonen was the last of the top three to stop, doing so in a time of 8.7 seconds and emerging ahead of Michael Schumacher, defending his lead into the Adelaide Hairpin. David Coulthard was the last of the front-runners to stop, retaining third position, but he was forced to take a drive-through penalty after crossing the infamous white line. However, even then, he still held third position, so much was the loss of pace of the Williams team after changing tyre compounds, with Montoya dropping down to fourth, still ahead of Ralf Schumacher, who was another driver forced to drive-through the pits.

Despite the attentions of Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen was driving a superb tactical race to hold off the Ferrari driver, until five laps from the end. Heading towards the hairpin, Raikkonen and Schumacher encountered yellow flags for Allan McNish's beached Toyota, with the Finn locking up his tyres on some oil and running onto the tarmac on the outside of the corner. Schumacher sensed his chance, and dived up the inside, the two drivers nearly banging wheels as the McLaren rejoined the circuit. Schumacher was through and away in the lead, although questions remained over the legality of the German's manoeuvre, which had taken place before the cars had passed a green-flag. With Schumacher going on to record victory, he was delighted to learn that there would be no appeal over the move, meaning he was crowned champion for a fifth time. Raikkonen was arguably the driver of the day, and surely his first Formula One victory will arrive soon. However, he had to settle for second position, with Coulthard following him home in third place. Montoya took fourth ahead of Ralf Schumacher, with Button completing the top six finishers. Heidfeld was seventh after a quiet run, finishing ahead of the impressive Mark Webber (Minardi), De La Rosa and Alex Yoong (Minardi).

Of those not so lucky to reach the finish, Sato and Panis never really recovered from their collision, with the Japanese retiring when he spun out after mechanical failure, and Panis retiring six laps later on his 29th tour, after several visits to the pits. Villeneuve completed an awful weekend for the BAR team when his engine blew, while a similar fate befell the Toyotas of Allan McNish and Mika Salo, and Trulli's Renault. Massa also failed to make the chequered flag in a race ruined by two drive-through penalties, while Irvine had been on course for a top six finish for Jaguar only for his rear wing to become detached at 180mph, forcing him to spin into the gravel trap.

Race Result:
1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) +1.104s
3. David Coulthard (McLaren) +30.871s
4. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) +40.676s
5. Ralf Schumacher (Williams) +41.773s
6. Jenson Button (Renault) +1lap

Driver's Championship Standings:
1. Michael Schumacher 96pts
2. Juan Pablo Montoya 34pts
3. Rubens Barrichello 32pts
4. Ralf Schumacher 32pts
5. David Coulthard 30pts
6. Kimi Raikkonen 17pts

Constructor's Championship Standings:
1. Ferrari 128pts
2. Williams-BMW 66pts
3. McLaren-Mercedes 47pts
4. Renault 15pts
5. Sauber-Petronas 10pts
6. Jordan-Honda 6pts

2002 F1 season calendar
03/03/2002 - Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)
- Australia circuit by JR
- Australia preview by AF
- Australia grid by JR
- Australia review by AF
- Australia lap-by-lap by JR
17/03/2002 - Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang)
- Malaysia circuit by JR
- Malaysia preview by AF
- Malaysia grid by JR
- Malaysia review by AF
- Malaysia lap-by-lap by JR
31/03/2002 - Brazilian Grand Prix (Sao Paulo)
- Brazil circuit by JR
- Brazil preview by AF
- Brazil grid by JR
- Brazil review by AF
- Brazil lap-by-lap by JR
14/04/2002 - San Marino Grand Prix (Imola)
- San Marino circuit by JR
- San Marino preview by AF
- San Marino grid by JR
- San Marino review by AF
- San Marino lap-by-lap by JR
28/04/2002 - Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona)
- Spain circuit by JR
- Spain preview by AF
- Spain grid by JR
- Spain review by AF
- Spain lap-by-lap by JR
12/05/2002 - Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg)
- Austria circuit by JR
- Austria preview by AF
- Austria grid by JR
- Austria review by AF
- Austria lap-by-lap by JR
26/05/2002 - Grand Prix de Monaco (Monaco)
- Monaco circuit by JR
- Monaco preview by AF
- Monaco grid by JR
- Monaco review by AF
- Monaco lap-by-lap by JR
09/06/2002 - Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
- Canada circuit by JR
- Canada preview by AF
- Canada grid by JR
- Canada review by AF
- Canada lap-by-lap by JR
23/06/2002 - European Grand Prix (Nürburgring)
- Europe circuit by JR
- Europe grid by JR
- Europe review by AF
- Europe lap-by-lap by JR
07/07/2002 - British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
- Britain circuit by JR
- Britain grid by JR
- Britain review by AF
- Britain lap-by-lap by JR
21/07/2002 - French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours)
- France circuit by JR
- France preview by AF
- France grid by JR
- France review by AF
- France lap-by-lap by JR
28/07/2002 - German Grand Prix (Hockenheim)
- Germany circuit by JR
- Germany preview by AF
- Germany grid by JR
- Germany review by AF
- Germany lap-by-lap by JR
18/08/2002 - Hungarian Grand Prix (Budapest)
- Hungary circuit by JR
- Hungary grid by JR
- Hungary lap-by-lap by JR
01/09/2002 - Belgian Grand Prix (Spa Francorchamps)
- Belgium circuit by JR
- Belgium grid by JR
- Belgium review by AF
- Belgium lap-by-lap by JR
15/09/2002 - Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
- Italy circuit by JR
- Italy grid by JR
- Italy lap-by-lap by JR
29/09/2002 - American Grand Prix (Indianapolis)
- USA circuit by JR
- USA grid by JR
- USA lap-by-lap by JR
13/10/2002 - Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
- Japan circuit by JR
- Japan grid by JR
- Japan review by AF
- Japan lap-by-lap by JR

2002 French GP circuit map. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image. Michael unexpectedly wins the championship. Image by Shell. Click here for a larger image. Schumacher is undoubtedly one of the best F1 drivers of all time. Image by Shell. Click here for a larger image. Kimi came so close to his first ever F1 victory - he had to settle for 2nd, which was not his fault. Image by www.mclaren.com. Click here for a larger image. Coulthard completed the podium - a good showing for McLaren. Image by www.mclaren.com. Click here for a larger image. Juan Pablo had to make do with 4th position. Image by BMW. Click here for a larger image. It all looked so good for Williams at the start. Image by BMW. Click here for a larger image. Ralf Schumacher was 5th. Image by BMW. Click here for a larger image. Jenson Button was content with 6th place for Renault. Image by Renault. Click here for a larger image. Nick Heidfeld was 7th. Image by Sauber. Click here for a larger image. Mark Webber was 8th. Image by Minardi. Click here for a larger image. Pedro De La Rosa was 9th. Image by Jaguar. Click here for a larger image. Alex Yoong was 10th. Image by Minardi. Click here for a larger image. 2002 French GP lap-by-lap. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image.
 

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