2019 French Grand Prix Review

Mercedes are aiming to aiming to continue their domination as F1 heads to Austria. (Image credit: LAT Images)

After a dramatic French Grand Prix weekend dominated by tyre wear and hot weather, here I round up how each Formula One team fared in my French GP review. 

Mercedes were dominant like last year whilst the midfield battle took centre stage throughout this weekend, which Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly described as “… a bit different to what we expected coming into the weekend…”

Now let crack on with analysis of how every team handled a challenging weekend in Southern France.

 

Mercedes

Race Results: Lewis Hamilton – 1st, Valtteri Bottas – 2nd

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We’ve had eight races with Mercedes victorious in every one, and six of those occasions saw the Silver Arrows collect 1-2 finishes. 

Having struggled throughout FP2 and 3 to produce a quali sim lap, Lewis Hamilton went on to deliver a masterclass throughout qualifying and the race to extend his title lead over Bottas to 36 points. 

As for Bottas himself, this has been his strongest weekend since Baku but Hamilton always seems to have that bit extra in him when it matters, although he did a great job at fending off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the closing laps to cling onto second. 

Again it has been another outstanding performance from the reigning champions, even if it has made for a boring first third of the season.

I don’t mean to sound negative about this dont get me wrong they’re doing a great job.

However from a fan perspective it couldn’t be worse with Mercedes clearly walking away with both championships, even if circumstances swung two of those wins their way.

I do hope we more close battles like Canada as at least then they’re fighting for a win.

 

Ferrari

Race Results: Charles Leclerc – 3rd, Sebastian Vettel – 5th

Despite having long straights, this weekend has been a huge disappointment for Ferrari who struggled from the get-go to manage the tyres. 

That would prove to be just one of various problems this weekend because Sebastian Vettel hit reliability trouble during qualifying, which placed him seventh on the grid behind both McLarens. 

Race day then was quite disappointing for Vettel who struggled to get past both McLarens early on, which ultimately meant that fifth was the best he could manage plus a point for fastest lap. 

As for Leclerc, he did a fine job in salvaging a podium from this difficult weekend despite failing to pip Bottas for the runner-up spot at the end of the race. 

However that was what we wanted to see all season and race; a battle.

Hopefully we will see more from them next week on a track which I think will suit their car better.

 

Red Bull

Race Results: Max Verstappen – 4th, Pierre Gasly – 10th

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Red Bull will surely consider this a weekend lost through various issues even if they were very close to Ferrari on single lap pace. 

Verstappen was as consistent as ever throughout this weekend and definitely benefitted from McLaren holding Vettel up in the opening laps, otherwise he would of probably finished fifth. 

The Dutchman in fact seemed happy to have got “the most out of the package” so it is fair to say that Red Bull are definitely making the right steps forward, even if it was a completely different story for Pierre Gasly. 

For Gasly, this weekend was his home race and he definitely disappointed because he struggled throughout the whole weekend, and the decision to start on softs ultimately screwed his strategy. 

Nevertheless, he did at least take a point thanks to Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo receiving a 10s penalty (two sets of 5s penalties) but this surely is a concern for Helmut Marko who want competitive drivers in the car. 

Gasly had a rather dismal race starting 9th to come home just inside the points.

 

McLaren

Race Results: Carlos Sainz – 6th, Lando Norris – 9th

What a weekend for McLaren with both cars comfortably threatening Ferrari and Red Bull, before outqualifying Vettel to lock out the third row. 

Sainz in particular made a great start to challenge Verstappen into Turn One, only to be squeezed out whilst Norris produced a staunch defence against Vettel in the superior Ferrari. 

Once the German had gotten past both, it was fascinating to see Norris push Sainz throughout the race until a hydraulic issue ended that battle. Nevertheless respect should be given to McLaren for not using team orders and instead let them fight it out themselves on track. 

Norris then did a great job managing his hydraulic issue even if he was robbed of seventh by Ricciardo on the final lap with a ridiculous move at the Mistral Straight chicane to drop him to tenth.  

There was however some kind of justice for Norris after Ricciardo was handed a double time penalty for his move then another incident, which promoted the Brit to ninth whilst he was voted driver of the day to top off a great weekend. 

 

Renault

Race Results: Daniel Ricciardo – 11th, Nico Hulkenberg – 8th

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A strong performance on home soil for the French team despite being firmly in the midfield scrap throughout this weekend.

Hulkenberg in particular impressed with a strong drive from 13th on the grid to eighth through a well executed strategy. 

My biggest concern though is that both drivers struggled for pace mid-race but the track clearly came to them in the closing stages, when they found pace as others struggled for tyre life.

Ricciardo however was far too opportunistic with his antics on the final lap against Norris then Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, so deserved his double penalty even if it dropped him out of the points.  

 

Alfa Romeo

Race Results: Kimi Raikkonen – 7th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 16th

Whilst both cars shone brightly throughout practice and qualifying, the race proved to be of contrasting fortunes. 

Raikkonen enjoyed the better race and utilised Ferrari power to full effect which proved problematic for those trying to pass, even with DRS and eventually was rewarded with seventh. 

As for Giovinazzi, he struggled all weekend but did a fine job in reaching Q3 and post Qualifying, the Italian put his performance down to a “new upgrades package” which clearly has suited his driving style. 

The race however was disappointing because he was on a similar strategy to Red Bull’s Gasly but had to do a two stopper unlike the Frenchman, which ultimately wrecked his race. 

This weekend therefore has demonstrated strong signs of potential in the car and Team Principal, Fredric Vasseur believes that “fighting spirit” will see the team continue to complete with McLaren and Renault as the season marches on. 

 

Racing Point

Race Results: Sergio Perez – 12th, Lance Stroll – 13th

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Racing Point always knew that this weekend would be tough given the unsuitability of their car. 

Perez and Stroll therefore both did great jobs in testing circumstances, although Stroll produced a brilliant drive on hard tyres to get up to sixth before struggling to mount a challenge for points after putting the medium tyres on. 

Perez meanwhile was unlucky to receive a penalty for gaining an advantage despite following the track return procedure after running wide at Turn Three.

The buck really stops with the stewards for creating a escape road which actually proved advantageous compared to completing Turns Three and Four on the racing track itself. 

Whilst 12th and 13th may not be a great finish, you do have to remember both cars struggled all weekend with various challenges. 

 

Toro Rosso

Race Results: Daniil Kyvat – 14th, Alexander Albon – 15th

Toro Rosso will be relieved that this weekend is behind them after both cars struggled to make any impact on the timing towers all weekend. 

Kvyat however managed to push Albon all race without team orders and a 14th placed finish is a great result for the Russian, having started at the back after exceeding his power unit allowance following an upgrade. 

 

Haas

Race Results: Kevin Magnussen – 17th, Romain Grosjean – DNF

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Yet another dismal race for Haas who struggled all weekend with reliability issues on top of tyre wear and lock ups. 

Sunday didn’t even bring any relief as they struggled for pace and Grosjean car saving retirement completed one of their worst weekends in F1 yet. 

With that result, Haas probably would be kissing goodbye to hopes of a top five constructor finish in any other season, but are lucky that the midfield this year is incredibly tight with fifth-placed Renault just 16 points ahead. 

They therefore can still push themselves up the standings if can get on top of their issues with Magnussen saying; “Obviously our pace is the biggest challenge at the moment. We just lack pace sometimes, and today was one of those days.”

 

Williams

Race Results: Robert Kubica-18th, George Russell-19th

Williams yet again endured a torrid weekend with the only positive coming in the fact that Kubica managed to beat Russell in the race for the first time this season, admist rumours that his return to F1 could be nearing its end. 

The car remains uncompetitive but there is now hope that we might see an inter team battle emerge rather than Russell trouncing Kubica every weekend. 

 

And with that is the end of my review, I do hope you come and join us next week for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Please comment down below.

Craig Telford.

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