Formula 1 Preview – French Grand Prix Predictions and Podium
The seventh round of the Formula 1 season takes place this weekend, with the teams facing off at the Paul Ricard circuit after two consecutive street races.
The previous race in Baku saw two hectic tyre failures suffered by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Fortunately, both drivers were left unscathed by the high-speed crashes but there was serious concern from the grid with regards to the performance of the Pirelli tyre.
Earlier this week the Italian company issued a statement on the findings of their investigation into the incidents and said there was “no production or quality defect” on any of the tyres “nor was there any sign of fatigue or delamination”. This is likely not to go down well with the teams who made it clear the crashes were not caused by a mechanical fault.
Nevertheless, the drivers will head into this Sunday’s race with some sort of trepidation after the harrowing incidents in Baku. Both title protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen failed to score points in the last race, and therefore will look to keep the pressure up at the business end of the championship with a solid showing this weekend.
Last year’s French GP was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and fans will welcome the familiar sight of the distinctive black and blue run-off areas known as the Blue Zone. Teams with powerful engines and high top speeds will do well in France, and Ferrari’s 17 wins over the years is testament to that.
Known for its 1,8-kilometre long Mistral straight, the circuit, which was built in 1969, hasn’t produced exciting overtaking opportunities in recent times. However, with the openness of this season’s championship and the fact that three different drivers have won races so far this season, many experts predict an exciting race around the 5,8-kilometre track in Le Castellet, near Marseille.
What to Expect in France
Hamilton and Verstappen will no doubt be the favourites for the win, but the latter’s teammate Sergio Perez has found his groove in the energy drink team owned car and he will be raring to collect another podium place after winning the Azerbaijan GP.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas is under immense pressure at the team and news of Williams driver George Russell being earmarked to replace the Finn won’t help his mental state. Bottas will need to dig deep this weekend and churn out a good result to thwart interest by Russell in his seat for 2022.
Hamilton has won the last two French GPs but made an uncharacteristic mistake in Baku that saw him finish last in the race. He won’t want a repeat of that, and with Honda bringing in fresh engines for the AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing drivers this weekend we could see another epic battle between the two top teams.