Mercedes may have paid a price for delaying their spec 2 power unit in Canada but we knew that when it did come, it would once again raise the performance bar. Ferrari’s new engine in Canada may have been faster than the Spec 1 Mercedes but in France, it didn’t have an answer as Lewis Hamilton to the victory at the Paul Ricard Circuit for the French Grand Prix.
A race that many believed would be boring offered some first lap drama with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel tangling with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas at the first turn on lap 1. A 5s penalty left Vettel off the podium and now 10 points down in the driver’s championship while his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, finished in third behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
A big win for Mercedes, their spec 2 engine and Lewis Hamilton who took over the championship lead from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. His 44th win in car number 44 and the first French GP win for Lewis. Lewis controlled the entire weekend and race and managed his race perfectly.
A win for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who finished second and drove a lonely race for a podium finish. He lacked the pace to challenge Hamilton but held off his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, and even managed to cover the charging Vettel with a perfectly timed pit stop on the 26th lap.
Kimi Raikkonen managed a podium finish and drove a good race passing his teammate late and then picking off a struggling Daniel Ricciardo. He never had the pace to challenge Verstappen but perhaps his long run strategy prevented him from being more aggressive than he was.
Another win for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc who managed to finish 10th on the lead lap converting his terrific qualifying effort into a tangible call for a seat at Ferrari in 2019.
A big win for Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who gained several spots at the start having ran wide to avoid the carnage but was head’s up enough to cede those positions and then fight his way back to a very respectable 6th place besting the Renault’s for “best of the rest”.
A big win for the French fans who, despite a miserable traffic situation, braved the queue and turned out in droves.
A fail for Sebastian Vettel who lost the lead in the championship on lap 1, turn 1 after hitting Valtteri Bottas. The #5 Ferrari got a great start but was boxed in by two Mercedes cars and while Bottas left room at turn 1, Vettel lost braking and hit the Finn causing a puncture for Bottas and a damaged front wing for himself. If there’s an upside for the incident, it was adding some spice to the race that was predicted to be boring as Vettel scythed his way back through the field making pass after pass to in a very good recovery drive.
A fail for McLaren who couldn’t get either car in the points leaving Fernando Alonso to radio about throwing in the towel. Vandoorne managed to beat Alonso but only because McLaren thought it would be fun to try and give Alonso the fastest lap of the race and pitted him late. The gambit failed and it makes you wonder if they are racing or just trying to appease Alonso these days. As I said on the last podcast, the Alonso brand seems to have become bigger than the McLaren brand at this point and that’s a serious, serious issue for Woking.
A fail for Williams who finished last with Sergey Sirotkin in 15th and Lance Stroll DNF due to an exploding front left tire near the end of the race. Such a shame to see Williams and McLaren fighting for the most miserable season award. All the talk seems to be about sacking Eric Boullier at McLaren but no one is talking about sacking Claire Williams and her team is, arguably, in worse shape given their power unit.
A massive fail for Force India who had a dual DNF race with Ocon being taken out on turn 1, lap 1 and Perez having to retire due to engine trouble. Both cars had new Mercedes engine and unlike the works team, they couldn’t capitalize on that at all.
A bit of a WTH for Renault who seemed mired in the middle this weekend. Sainz had a loss of power late in the race and lost two places denying him the 6th place Magnussen enjoyed. Hulkenberg never could mount a serious challenge for his coveted 7th place finishing norm and both Renault’s were beaten by Haas F1.
A WTH for Romain Grosjean…no, seriously, WTH? The race stewards looked at three sperate incidents from the Haas F1 driver and Ocon squarely felt he was to blame for the first lap carnage between all three Frenchmen. Regardless, it is very odd that the three French drivers, Grosjean, Ocon and Gasly, all took each other out on lap 1 from their home grand prix…WTH?
A bit of a WTH as there was very little degradation (klag) on the track and it makes you wonder if Pirelli brought soft enough compounds to the Paul Ricard circuit…you know, being all about HD tires and stuff.
French GP Results:
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||53||7.090s|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||53||34.736s|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Renault||52||1 Lap|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|14||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||52||1 Lap|
|15||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams/Mercedes||52||1 Lap|
|16||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Renault||50||3 Laps|
|–||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||27||Power Unit|
|–||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||0||Collision|
|–||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||0||Collision|