French Grand Prix 2021
Can Hamilton Regain His Glory Against Verstappen In The French Grand Prix?
As we see the F1 championship move into round seven at the Paul Ricard circuit in France this weekend, all eyes will be on Mercedes and Red Bull again in the wake of the disastrous events that unfolded in Azerbaijan for Mercedes Hamilton and Red Bull’s Verstappen.
Following on from Hamilton’s error of his ‘brake magic’ button causing him to veer off track and Verstappen’s’ tyre blow, both incidents left both drivers with zero points, a huge blow for them. This was even more so for Hamilton who was greatly relying on a podium finish to take back control of the championship following Verstappen’s current four-point lead on him.
Paul Ricard Circuit Stats
First Grand Prix – 1971
Number of laps – 53
Circuit length – 5.842KM (the longest on the F1 calendar)
Race distance – 309.620KM
Corners – 15
Lap Record – 1:32.740 – Vettel (2019)
Will The French Track Favour Mercedes?
Mercedes are determined to bounce back this weekend and they have every reason to feel confident about their French GP chances after winning both races at the Paul Ricard circuit in 2018 and 2019 since its return.
With the Paul Ricard being a more conventional racetrack after the street circuit challenges of Monaco and Baku, Mercedes have the realistic hope that its recent downturn in competitiveness was track specific and after displaying a quicker car than Red Bull in Spain before the last two street circuits, this also falls to their advantage.
Mercedes will still face its challenges but how serious they prove to be will likely depend upon what, if any, steps Red Bull have been able to make in better controlling their thermal trye degradation.
Although Verstappen couldn’t’ qualify within six-tenths of Hamilton in 2018 and 2019 at this track and also in the same years at the similar Circuit de Barcelona, this year was the opposite between the two drivers with a mere 0.036s. If it does end up being a fight between Hamilton and Verstappen for pole, then it’s expected to be a close one.
Although all eyes are on Verstappen and Hamilton, following his first victory with Red Bull in Azerbaijan, Perez now claims he has finally understood how to drive his car and what he was missing in the first five rounds, making him an interesting option. He could possibly be a repeat winner in 2021 and one to watch out for.
Also, Vettel has made great progress over the past two race weekends, jumping Gasly and Hamilton in the pit stops before scoring his first Aston Martin podium in Baku.
Gasly seized an unliely podium finish for AlphaTauri showcasing his potential. Its been a slow start for him this year but is making gains each weekend with Azerbaijan being his best yet.
Alonso scored his best result of the year in Baku and finally looks to be settling in at the team and getting quicker with each race.
Leclerc already has two pole positions to his name this season and sits fifth in the championship. He also podiumed here for Ferrari in 2019
Ocon will have the boost of being on home ground with this race and has been consistently outperforming Alonso during the opening phase of the championship.
What Tyres Will The Teams Have For The French Grand Prix?
The middle compounds in the Pirelli range – C2 (hard), C3 (medium) and C4 (soft) will be brought to France. That’s one step softer than the Azerbaijan Grand Prix but the same choice was made for the 2019 French Grand Prix. This combination of tyres were used for the first two races of this year. This is the most versatile combination, well suited to a wide variety of different demands which make them a good match for the Paul Ricard circuit with its mix of high speed and low-speed corners.
In previous years the Paul Ricard circuit had built a reputation for boring Grand Prix racing so whilst races could not take place last year due to Covid, it took the opportunity to work on the circuit.
With over 70% of the 5.8KM track worked on with changed chambers and crests not only improving drainage but also posing more of a challenge to drivers and therefore hopefully leading to more battling on track. There has also been resurfacing on the track making it smoother than the last two previous years and a more consistent asphalt without bumps. The smoother, grippier surface of the circuit this year should mean less chance of drivers losing grip but if the speeds are higher on the corners then teams will definitely be pushing the limits of the track, even going beyond them.
French Grand Prix Race Schedule (BST)
First Free Practice 10.30 – 11.30
Second Free Practice 14.00 – 15.00
Third Free Practice 11.00 – 12.00
Qualifying 14.00 – 15.00
After the twists and turns of the race at Azerbaijan this only demonstrated that anything can happen on the day and the French Grand Prix is no exception. Who will you be backing? Check out our racing odds below.