The 60th French Grand Prix was a hot, sunny affair and leading up to the race, the weekend practice sessions and qualifying clearly showed that Mercedes was the team to beat. The Paul Ricard circuit is a pedestrian circuit that may be a better test track than it is a race track and as such, the race was quite pedestrian as a result. That is if you consider a Mercedes 1, 2 finish a pedestrian result. If you’re a Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton fan, this this race a great fun.
Leading from pole position, Lewis Hamilton led every lap and lapped up to 7th place while his teammate struggled to keep pace with him. The nearest competitor was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who manage to pressure Bottas at the end and finish 3rd.
A win for Mercedes who looked dominant all weekend and capitalized on their strong qualifying position by converting a 1,2 quali result into a 1,2 race result. Although both cars experienced blistering on their front-left Hard compound tires, they were able to still finish strong through difficulties with their Pirelli’s. Even though they experienced tires issues, it says a lot that other teams still, without blistering, still couldn’t get their tires to work well enough to find an advantage over Mercedes. A testament to a superior chassis and design by the Silver Arrows team.
A win for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who managed to secure a podium finish with a tidy drive and he did keep Bottas honest until the last lap. Ferrari also scored a “fastest lap” point by pitting Sebastian Vettel late for soft compound tires and giving the team and Seb a point.
A win for McLaren who managed to beat Renault for “best-of-the-rest” with Carlos Sainz Jr finishing in 6th place behind Vettel’s Ferrari. McLaren looked rejuvenated all weekend long with both Sainz and Lando Norris qualifying very well and then converting that result into a terrific race result. Powered by Renault, they were fighting the home-town heroes on their home track and they won.
A win for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen who finished in the points with a 7th place result. He had a quiet race but his straight-line pace and tire management for a deep first stint resulted in a nice run to 8th place.
A fail for Renault who couldn’t continue their Canadian GP success by losing their battle against McLaren for “best-of-the-rest”. Daniel Ricciardo used all of the track and more to try and get around both McLaren’s and ultimately garnered two 5s penalties for his pass of Lando Norris due to running off the circuit during the passing attempt as well as running off the track while passing Kimi Raikkonen. It moved him from 7th place to 11th. Nico Hulkenberg, using the older engine, could not make any progress on either McLaren and it was Lando’s hydraulic issues that allowed him to pass to finish 8th.
A fail for McLaren’s hydraulic system on Lando Norris’s car that cost him valuable places in the waning laps. Lando did a terrific job to manage with no DRS, dodgy differential, hard upshifts and failing hydraulic systems on all four corners of his car. IT garnered him a “drive of the race” award at F1.com.
A fail for Haas F1 who retired Romain Grosjean on lap #47 while Kevin Magnussen trundled around to 17th. The tires may still be elusive for the team but one questions the rate and effectiveness of their car development at this point as they’ve continued to slide backwards after starting the season as a “best-of-the-rest” favorite.
A fail for Pierre Gasly who started on the soft compounds and struggled the entire race out of sequence with those around him. Same could be said of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi who had a similar race.
Not sure what happened to Toro Rosso’s pace as they seemd tidy on Friday and Saturday but just couldn’t find the pace on Sunday. There were some good intra-team battles between Alex Albon and Danill Kvyat and while the latter started at the rear due to an engine change, it’s unfortunate they couldn’t find more pace for Alex.
Sergio Perez is wondering why he got a penalty for running wide and re-entering the track around the prescribed bollard following the rules perfectly. The re-entering around the bollard is one rule but going off track and gaining an advantage is a second rule, regardless of re-entering in the prescribed manner, that was in effect.
The T-shirt Gatling gun was a bit odd. Felt like it was feeding Soylent Green to the people or bringing loaves of bread to the French peasantry.
French GP Results:
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||53||34.905s|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||53||1m35.462s|
|7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||52||1 Lap|
|9||Lando Norris||McLaren/Renault||52||1 Lap|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||52||1 Lap|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||52||1 Lap|
|12||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||52||1 Lap|
|13||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||52||1 Lap|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||52||1 Lap|
|15||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||52||1 Lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||52||1 Lap|
|18||Robert Kubica||Williams/Mercedes||51||2 Laps|
|19||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||51||2 Laps|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||26|