Promoted: What to expect from the French Grand Prix

After seven races and seven wins for Mercedes, it might appear that the result of the French Grand Prix is a foregone conclusion, but as Motorsport Live analyses, there’s good reason to think that we be in for a close fight in this weekend’s race.

Promoted: What to expect from the French Grand Prix

On the road, Ferrari ended Mercedes’ six-race winning streak last time out in Canada, but Sebastian Vettel’s controversial five-second penalty meant that while he may have finished ahead on track, it was actually Lewis Hamilton who took his fourth win of the season.

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10 battle

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10 battle

Photo by: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

Vettel started the race on pole position in Montreal, his first of the season and his first since Germany 2018, and the four-time world champion soon built up a small but comfortable cushion over Hamilton, keeping himself outside of the one-second DRS detection zone.

But after both drivers pitted to switch to the harder compound tyre, as has traditionally been the case in recent years, the Mercedes was a more competitive proposition than the Ferrari.

Soon Vettel’s comfortable lead had been eroded, and as both drivers pushed to the limit, he made a small mistake at the chicane and ran over the grass. As he re-joined, he came back into Hamilton’s path, and this was adjudged to have been a block and a penalty was duly awarded. Harsh? Absolutely, but arguably correct to the letter of the law. Ferrari’s first win of the season was denied, and with it the seemingly unstoppable Mercedes steamroller to a sixth successive championship continued.

 
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, shakes hands with Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd position, after the race

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, shakes hands with Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd position, after the race

Photo by: Steven Tee / LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, consoles Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd position, on the podium

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, consoles Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd position, on the podium

Photo by: Steve Etherington / LAT Images

Emotions ran high for Ferrari and Vettel, and it is this passion that will drive them to right the perceived wrongs of the Canadian GP at the French Grand Prix this weekend. Vettel feels he was denied a 53rd win, but can at least console himself that he did manage to out-pace a silver arrows for a full race distance.

But this isn’t the first race Ferrari should have won this season. After leading the way in pre-season testing, the team – and the rest of the paddock – was stunned by the gap to Mercedes in the Australian GP. However, the tables appeared to be turned next time out in Bahrain, where Charles Leclerc was cruising to a maiden grand prix win when a fuel injection fault caused his engine to lose power and handed Hamilton his first win of the season instead.

Ferrari’s advantage in Canada and Bahrain came from its engine power and low-drag aero efficiency, which will certainly help down the long straights of Paul Ricard. However, the Mercedes has proven to have the superior handling balance through the corners, and Hamilton will fancy his chances of repeating his win from last year’s French Grand Prix, while Valtteri Bottas knows that he needs to claim his third win of the season if he’s to play anything other than a supporting role in Hamilton’s march to a sixth world title.

 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Photo by: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

Red Bull-Honda could be a factor too. The package lacks the top-end punch to match Ferrari and Mercedes at a power circuit, but the technical parts of the lap at Paul Ricard will give Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly the opportunity to shine.

With the baking sun of the Mediterranean coast likely to ensure high track temperatures, preserving the life of the Pirelli rubber is sure to be a key element of victory, and this could play perfectly into Red Bull’s hands.

 
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team

Photo by: Erik Junius

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault R.S.19

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault R.S.19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

Renault endured a tougher than expected start to the season, but a double points finish in Canada last time out could be the sign that the team is set to restore its ‘best of the rest’ mantle. Certainly, in Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg it has the drivers to deliver if the car is competitive. The team is planning to bring a ‘substantial’ upgrade package to Paul Ricard as it aims to reclaim fourth in the constructors’ standings from McLaren, so could be a wildcard contender.

All of which means that we ought to be in for a fascinating race. And with the organisers going to great lengths to ensure the traffic problems of 2018 are a thing of the past, there really is no good reason for not giving the French GP a visit this year.

Motorsport Live is an official ticket reseller for the French GP and all Formula 1 races in the 2019 season.

  • To see all ticket options please visit Motorsport Live here
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Series Formula 1
Event French GP
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