As the controversial conclusion to the Canadian GP rumbles on, the F1 circus rolls onto the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet and the French Grand Prix.
The stewards met with Ferrari after first practice on Friday to hear their appeal against the five-second time penalty which cost Sebastian Vettel their first race victory of the season in Canada, which was rejected.
The silver arrows and the Scuderia will likely be the two cars competing for the chequered flag this time out too.
Our F1 expert previews this weekend’s race and gives you the best bets.
Despite the controversy over the finish in Canada, Ferrari’s extra pace on the straights was clear. Whilst complimenting their power-pack, Hamilton admitted in this sense, they are way ahead.
Worryingly for the other teams, there are recent reports suggesting the Ferrari mechanics had highlighted and resolve an aerodynamic issue that was costing them as much as 0.3 seconds a lap. The long straights at the Ricard should therefore give them an advantage in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel is 8/1 to take a second consecutive pole.
Mercedes delivered their first disappointing qualifying of the year in Canada, but their six poles so far this season will leave them feeling confident about putting at least one of their cars on the front row.
Red Bull have also been down in power compared to the Ferrari, but may benefit from Honda’s early introduction of their second engine upgrade. The Japanese engine manufacturer are hoping to be able to provide more power to both Red Bull’s and Toro Rosso’s and Max Verstappen could be a pole contender if it goes well. He’s available at 14/1 to take pole position.
Several teams have struggled to bring their best on Sunday’s so far this season, Ferrari included.
Both Charles Leclerc and Vettel have failed to convert pole positions into wins, a record they’ll be keen to shake off in France. Their most oppressive issue is the lack of downforce they generate in the tight, slow corners. If they can come up with a better balance for the car on the new Pirelli tyres, then they could enjoy a few more victories in the second half of the year.
The Renault’s showed significant improvement last time out, with Daniel Ricciardo securing their highest finish of the season in sixth, with Romain Grosjean one behind in seventh. Their planned upgrades are to be unveiled this weekend as they attempt to get some more solid points in their home GP. He’s a rank outsider to win the race, but if Ricciardo can get some free track don’t discount his chance at putting in a fastest lap at 75/1.
I’m predicting that Mercedes’ winning run will come to an end here. Sebastian Vettel will be more determined than ever to give the Scuderia something to smile about after a dismal start to 2019. I’m backing him to win at 8/1 at Grosvenorsport.com.
Charles Leclerc has had a reasonably quiet start to his Ferrari career, a thrilling finish in Baku aside. He looked off the pace in Canada compared to Hamilton and Vettel but still finished on the podium. I think he’ll repeat that this weekend, I’m backing him at evens to finish in the top three.