Can Ferrari handle the heat? Is this a criticism of Ricardo? Six interviews from French Grand Prix Racing fans

This weekend’s French Grand Prix is ​​the fourth race hosted by Paul Ricardo since Formula 1 returned to Le Castellet in 2018.

However, this could be the last F1 race to be held in motorsport’s biggest country, as the track’s contract to host the race expires at the end of this season.

With Paul Ricardo’s fourth and final race approaching, here are six points to talk about this weekend’s French Grand Prix.

The French Grand Prix Final… is it now?

Paul Rijkaard had his most exciting race since returning to the calendar last year, chasing down Max Verstappen and passing Lewis Hamilton to win in the final laps.

But the circuit, which F1 first visited in 1971, has often struggled to produce much entertainment since its return to the Formula 1 calendar over three races. Unfortunately, the chance to overtake the embarrassing Mistral chicane, which was one of the possible ones. scene.

With the track’s contract to host the French Grand Prix expiring at the end of this season and competition for places to win the right to host Formula 1 races greater than ever in the summer, Paul Rijkaard is aiming to dominate the league. A list of tracks that are likely to give way to other tracks on the calendar.

This could mean that this weekend could be the last French Grand Prix for the foreseeable future. But while many may miss the track, if it were to actually happen, losing a race in one of Europe’s premier motorsport nations would be painfully felt. Especially when, for the first time in decades, there are two French winners in the race, and French-speaking champion Charles Leclerc hails from Monaco, less than 200km away.

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali recently mooted the idea of ​​moving the French Grand Prix to the new street circuit in Nice, but there is no indication that this is anything other than a tactic to put pressure on the sponsors of the Monaco race. If Formula 1 loses the race in France, we hope that it won’t be long before a new, more attractive venue is found. But the country’s only Formula 1 circuit, Magny-Cours in Pays de Nevers, hardly fits Liberty Media’s goal of racing in “destination cities.”

Ferrari reliability issues

Sainz lost almost a certain second in Austria

After the start of the season, Red Bull were widely regarded as fast but fragile. Neither Verstappen nor Sergio Perez finished the first race in Bahrain before Verstappen retired from the Australian Grand Prix with a fuel system failure, leaving Ferrari at the top of the constructors’ championship.

However, the narrative changed completely during the second quarter of the year. With Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr splitting four times due to mechanical reasons after the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari are now most at risk of breaking down during the race – something the team can’t believe. Let the team continue to fight for a victory against Reed.

Track details: Paul Ricard

wheel length 5,842 km (3.63 mi)
Distance Grand Prix 309,626 km (192,393 miles)
lap record (race) 1’32.740 (Sebastien Vettel, 2019)
Fastest lap (any session) 1’28.319 (Lewis Hamilton 2019, three qualified)
vehicle tires C2, C3, C4
Race values ​​in 2021 8.23 out of 10
drivers weekend 2021 Max Verstappen

Paul Ricard Detailed data monitoring

Leclerc could be considered lucky to win last time out in Austria, as he drove with a partially blocked throttle and took the lead over Verstappen in the final 10 laps. However, Sainz was denied a potential second place after his powertrain essentially ran out in pursuit of Verstappen. Unsurprisingly, Ferrari are concerned about their reliability for the rest of the season.

“It’s definitely a concern,” admitted team principal Mattia Binotto after the race in Austria. “But the people who have returned to Maranello are working very hard to fix them.

“We’re going to have some new stuff and I know how hard they work, how good they are, and I can count on them to deal with it very quickly and hopefully as soon as possible.” »

However, they and their rivals will face the added challenge of the conditions this weekend.

beat the heat

There will be some escape from the heat this weekend

In the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s only natural that this weekend’s French Grand Prix will be hot. But the effects of rising temperatures during the current heat wave in Europe are already being felt across the sporting world.

Last Sunday, professional cycling federation Union Cycliste Internationale activated severe weather protocols for the 15th stage of the Tour de France, which took place in the south of the country near the Le Castellet circuit. Early forecasts call for temperatures in the low 30s – by no means extreme by F1 standards, but could put extra strain on men and machines during the three working days at the track.

If these predictions are correct, this weekend could be the hottest French Grand Prix since Formula 1 returned to the track in 2018. And what could this mean for tire temperatures in 2018? Also, some cars are more prone to tires. overheating, while others find it more difficult to reach the optimal temperature.

Mercedes’ best track of the season?

George Russell, Mercedes, Red Bull Range, 2022
Mercedes is steadily taking the lead

Mercedes’ reliability has been one of the team’s few bright spots this year, and this weekend’s race promises to be one of the toughest yet for the aspiring world champions. They are currently enjoying three of their best races of the season, even after George Russell retired on the first lap of the British Grand Prix.

Major updates to the W13 at the Spanish Grand Prix at the end of May focused on improving the car’s mid- and high-speed cornering performance, and it seems to be working well. But while two consecutive street races looked like a challenge for Mercedes, Russell managed to secure third place on the podium. Since then, Hamilton has been on the podium in all three races.

Heading to the ultra-smooth Paul Ricardo Test Center, which F1 decided to host the Grand Prix a year ago, Mercedes know it will be a circuit where their car’s weaknesses will be as minimally affected as possible. They have struggled to warm up the tires this year, but the tough conditions should help.

With one of the fastest tracks of the season in terms of average lap speed and only a few very slow corners, Mercedes can expect to make the most of Paul Rijkaard’s track and hopefully be closer to Red Bull than in Austria. , where Hamilton and Russell appeared to be between them in qualifying until separate mistakes.

But while the Mercedes’ speed seemed to improve significantly over the last few laps, race speed is another matter. There is still work to be done if Mercedes are to catch up enough to start fighting for race wins again.

Can Haas continue the streak?

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2022
Two doubles in a row for Haas

With Kevin Magnussen dropping from seventh in the standings to fifth, the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was good for 2022. A start to the Haas campaign that the team had realistically hoped for. But after a few points over the next three rounds, Haas crashed out of five races to drop to ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, one point behind Aston Martin.

Then came Silverstone and the British Grand Prix. Mick Schumacher’s big surge saw the team’s number two driver finally score his first career F1 points, finishing eighth, just behind Verstappen after a particularly strong defense by the world champion. Magnussen also finished 10th for the team’s first finish since 2019. German Grand Prix.

The team fared even better the following weekend in Austria. In Friday’s qualifying session, Magnussen and Schumacher finished sixth and seventh in the sprint, which became seventh and ninth respectively in Sunday’s Grand Prix. In the race, Schumacher produced perhaps the best race of his career to date, taking his best ever result of sixth, while Magnussen held on for eighth despite being out of balance in the early stages.

After two consecutive doubles, Haas’ morale is higher than it has been all season. Next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix will see a major overhaul, so the team will be looking to keep their points tally until Magnussen and Schumacher are given an improved car for the next race.

path restriction issues

Mistral Chicane, Paul Ricard, 2021
Paul Ricard has many treadmills

F1’s new no-tolerance approach to boundary monitoring introduced in 2022 at the start of the season, the arrival of two new race directors had the biggest impact on the Grand Austria weekend so far. A total of 90 track limit infringements were recorded across the weekend’s three races, resulting in four drivers receiving time penalties for off-track infringements multiple times in the race.

The generosity of Red Bull’s circuit boundaries has been an issue since Hermann Teilke redesigned the site 25 years ago. Paul Ricard is another transformative track experience that makes staying within the confines of the track largely optional. For about 5.8 miles, there is hardly a single blade of grass and no gravel.

With only tarmac around the perimeter, the temptation to run as close to the white lines as possible to maximize exit speed is as strong as anywhere on the calendar. Also, due to the unique nature of Paul Rijkaard, drivers have to follow very direct instructions to rejoin the track if they miss any turn, turn 4 or turn along the long Mistral street.

The track limit rules will not only affect whether drivers spend time, but are also likely to be applied in close races. Although Alexander Albon received a penalty in the Austrian sprint for sending Lando Norris off the track, sparking debate over whether other drivers should receive similar penalties in later stages, he is likely to face more penalties this weekend, and certainly more. conversations.

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Hubert Gildon

"Coffee maven. Bacon nerd. Infuriatingly humble beer expert. Explorer. Tv guru. General alcohol specialist. Gamer. Proud problem solver."

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