F1 Grand Prix Of France

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Ferraris give young gun Hamilton a French lesson

Jul 1, 2007 - 4:52 PM By Ian Parkes Special to PA SportsTicker

MAGNY-COURS, France (Ticker) - Ferrari fired a warning shot to rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton after sweeping to a one-two at the French Grand Prix in Magny-Cours on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa came home first and second - Ferrari's first one-two for 15 grands prix.

The 22-year-old Hamilton - the first black driver in Formula One - had to settle for third ahead of his home race, the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone, next Sunday.

Hamilton's McLaren teammate and closest rival in the drivers' standings, Fernando Alonso, was down in seventh, leaving the Brit with a 14-point cushion on the two-time reigning world champion.

Raikkonen and Massa may have made up some ground - 22 and 17 points behind respectively - but Hamilton is a hot favorite for the title with British bookmakers.

After an eighth successive podium, Hamilton will get a hero's welcome from fans eager for a British success next weekend.

"Going into my first British Grand Prix with the team I've always wanted to drive for - and leading the world championship - is one of the greatest feelings a driver can have," said Hamilton.

"At the start of the season it was unimaginable. I have said before I never expected to finish on the podium in my first race, never mind to do it for eight races. I'm very, very happy with the job I've done, and the job the team has done."

Not even a poor start on the grid could dampen Hamilton's enthusiasm.

"Even after being overtaken for the first time in a race, I am not disappointed," he said. "I don't like being overtaken - it's the same for everyone - but it was inevitable it would happen at some point.

"But we have finished on the podium again, we are the most consistent team, and I think we are doing the better job. Obviously, you can't win every race, but I've extended my lead in the championship so I couldn't be happier."

The bad news for Hamilton is that the "Prancing Horse" is alive and kicking again.

Raikkonen and Massa dominated the weekend for Ferrari.

Raikkonen flashed past Hamilton of the grid, and with pole-man Massa getting a clean start, the Ferraris never looked like being caught.

The only surprise was the eventual order, with the defining moment coming two thirds of the way through the 70-lap race.

Massa made his second stop on lap 43, but concedes he was hindered by traffic over the next three laps before Raikkonen came in for a another set of fresh tires and more fuel.

Raikkonen's stop was 1.2 seconds quicker than Massa's and that helped the Finn to return to the track ahead of his teammate.

From that moment the race was over.

Ferrari are right back in the hunt after slashing the gap on McLaren in the constructors' championship by 10 points to 25.

Raikkonen celebrated his first win for the team since Melbourne - and the 11th of his career.

"The work is starting to pay off," he said. "It has maybe taken longer than we expected, but we've got the win and we're back in the right place.

"We didn't expect to have the problems we've had in the last few races, but now we are back where we expected to be. This is the start of a revival. Everything is working well, so we will try to keep it up and improve."

After bemoaning the traffic, Massa attempted to search for the positives from his second-place finish.

"It's still a great result for the team, while I've gained two points on Lewis," said Massa. "We've also gained a lot of points on Fernando, and the gap in the constructors' has been reduced a lot."

Robert Kubica was fourth on his return to BMW Sauber after missing the United States Grand Prix following a dramatic crash in Canada.

Teammate Nick Heidfeld was fifth, with the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella sixth, Alonso seventh, and Jenson Button eighth in his Honda.

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