Kimi Raïkkönen wants a win at the French Grand Prix this weekend to help him forget last year’s infamous defeat at Magny-Cours and his retirement at last weekend’s European Grand Prix. Will he do it?

Kimi Raïkkönen wants a win at the French Grand Prix this weekend to help him forget last year’s infamous defeat at Magny-Cours and his retirement at last weekend’s European Grand Prix. Will he do it?

The McLaren driver looked set to take his first F1 victory in the 2002 French Grand Prix, until he ran wide on some oil late in the race, allowing Michael Schumacher through for the win. At the European Grand Prix last weekend, engine failure forced him to retire while leading the race.

"I am particularly looking forward to the event and hopefully erasing the memories of my now infamous incident towards the end of the race last year. It was, of course, a bitter sweet moment, when I missed out so narrowly on what would have been my first F1 victory. David (Coulthard) and myself did secure a double podium finish at the event and hopefully can do one better this year," Raïkkönen said.

But he will have to get past a determined Michael Schumacher who has noticed that his competitors are getting more confident.

His brother Ralf Schumacher has made it clear that he is a contender for the title this year. "After my victory at the Nürburgring, I am going to Magny-Cours with much more confidence," said Ralf. "We have proved we can compete with Ferrari and the McLarens. Magny-Cours should suit our car and I am going there with fond memories - in 2001, it was where I achieved my first pole position."

BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen says the FW25 has become a competitive package. “The last three races have shown that we have accomplished a significant leap in development,” said Theissen. "It shows that we have closed the gap and we are in the fight for the championship.”

Tyres will play an important role at Magny-Cours, especially if the weather is hot. "Many consider the French Grand Prix the home race for Michelin and it is true that on this track the tyres will be crucial, because of the elevated temperatures," said Schumacher.

"But over the course of this season, we have seen on many occasions how the theory that Michelin is better in the heat and Bridgestone in the cold, has been proved wrong. The performance of the tyres depends on many other factors, like the general characteristics of the track. I don't think you can say that it is determined by a general trend.

"Magny-Cours is a circuit whose surface can become very slippery if it is really hot. I have to admit that I don't really like these conditions as I prefer going through curves fast and not be held back by a lack of grip," said Schumacher.

Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt is also aware that times have changed with Schumacher having only a seven-point lead over Raïkkönen. "We didn't expect to have such an easy season in 2002 when Ferrari won 15 races out of 17, but we consider what has happened this year is closer to what should happen during a season where major manufacturers are taking part, as are the biggest tyre manufacturers," said Todt.

"So this year is more difficult because the others have made some good steps forward but we are still leading both championships, notwithstanding a very difficult start. We know that Magny-Cours will not be an easy circuit for us but we know as well that with the package we have, some circuits are more difficult, some are easier. Magny-Cours is one of the difficult ones."

Original article from Car