Nick van der Meulen brings us an F1 review France 2019.
It was another masterclass from the five-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, as the Mercedes driver dominated race proceedings from start to finish at the French F1 Grand Prix at Le Castellet, France. In doing so, he recorded his 79th F1 Grand Prix career victory and this sixth of the season. Teammate Vatteri Bottas could only follow in his wake, although he had to fend off a charging Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in the race’s dying stages.
While Max Verstappen (Red Bull Honda) made a strong start, he settled down and finished a lonely 4th ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, who had qualified an uncharacteristically lowly 7th. Ferrari stopped Vettel to replace tyres to gain the fastest lap on the penultimate lap: a risk, as he could have comfortably done so with five laps remaining. It was enough, though, to gain the bonus point.
The French Grand Prix saw McLaren’s best qualifying performance in years, out-performing the
Renaults on their home turf. Carlos Sainz finished a fine 6th, however, Norris suffered from issues in
the latter stages of the race, with his hydraulics/power steering packing up, leaving Lando to muscle
the car to the finish.
Norris lost three places in the last 2 laps, but salvaged a point for 10th place (adjusted to 2 points for 9th place, following a post-race stewards decision). Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) finished 7th , with Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) snapping at his heels. Ricciardo’s move on Norris, followed by his repass on Raikkonen (the Finn scythed past at the exit of the chicane while the Australian and Englishman were vying for position) saw him leave the circuit limits on two occasions and resulted in an investigation by the stewards. It was subsequently determined that Ricciardo forced Norris off track and gained an advantage passing Raikkonen (crossing the blue line at the edge of the circuit) and “Honey Badger” was penalized 5 seconds for each infringement…dropping him out of the points.
The director of the television feed gave an indication of how riveting the race was, with many battles for 14th and 16th place being shown (with the Toro Rosso duo of Kyvat and Albon in starring roles)…and the Raikkonen/Hulkenberg battle for 9 th place (at the time). The race saw only Romain Grosjean (Haas-Ferrari) retire, however, teammate Magnussen also had a torrid race, finishing 16th.
Two in a row
The next round of the F1 circus takes place at Red Bull Ring, Austria: home of Red Bull Racing. Verstappen and Gasly will be expected to perform well there. While the Dutchman should rise to the occasion, despite his relatively demure performance in France, the pressure will be on his French teammate.
He was expected to perform well at this home Grand Prix and he could only trail home behind both McLarens, both Renaults and an Alfa Romeo in 11 th place (although was gifted a point for 10th place following Ricciardo’s penalty). While Christian Horner will manage this quietly, expect “spokesman” Helmut Marko to be vocal about Gasly’s lacklustre showing thus far. Will they beat the mighty Mercedes team? Unlikely: they have taken all eight victories thus far this season!
You can watch race highlights by clicking here.