Source: Reddit

At first glance, the results at qualifying coincide quite well with the race results, but the race was anything but predictable.

Source: Reddit

My predictions for the French GP, like most predictions, were a mixed bag. One thing I did get right though was the potential for an exciting race at the front. Red Bull and Mercedes were neck in neck for the entire race with both teams giving it their all. Ultimately, Max Verstappen managed to take the win after a stunning two-stop strategy that left the Mercedes with no answer to Verstappen’s fresher tyres.

Tyre degradation was far more severe than any of the teams had predicted and this essentially caused a race where none of the teams predictions and estimates would help. They had to think on their feet, which is exactly what Red Bull did and Mercedes didn’t. Even with Verstappen losing pole in lap 1 on turn 2 after losing grip on the rear meant that he had to fight to return to that position. As Max told the media, “I would have liked to pull off into the distance and cruise ahead on my own but it doesn’t often work like that in Formula 1 and we really had to work for it today.”

It’s clear that Red Bull are certainly in the running for the Championship this season and that their recent success has been no fluke. They’ve also finally found a second driver that can compete with Verstappen in Sergio Perez. P3 is a fantastic result for the Mexican and hopefully as he learns more about the car he can take home a few more P1’s. But for the team, these are great points that extend Red Bull’s lead in both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championship.

Valtteri Bottas really summed up the weekend for Mercedes during his outburst on the final laps, “Why the f**k did nobody listen to me when I said it was a two-stopper!?” Why didn’t they, indeed. Most of the other teams adapted quickly to the rapid tyre degeneration but Mercedes thought they could take the tyres further and ultimately lost out in the end.

It’s such a shame too, especially for Bottas, who had a great weekend leading up to the race. It looked like the race Bottas would finally be able to take home a victory but, again, it seems like the team at Mercedes is fighting against him. It isn’t likely they are doing it intentionally but it certainly gives the impression, doesn’t it? P2 for Lewis Hamilton and P4 for Bottas isn’t bad, especially considering Bottas’ many DNF this season. The man might be the unluckiest in F1 as almost all his DNFs have been through no fault of his own. It’s a damn shame.

What can be said about Hamilton this race that differs from Bottas? He too was affected by Mercedes’ one-stop strategy that left him out to dry come the final laps of the race. Hamilton drove well but just didn’t have the tyres to hold off Verstappen’s final assault.

The fight for P3 in the constructors is just as exciting as the battle for first. McLaren had such a good race that shocked even themselves. As Lando Norris told the media, “I wasn’t really expecting a P5 coming into today, even with a perfect race. I just didn’t think we would have the pace that we did.”

After a disappointing qualifying that saw the McLarens at the bottom of the top 10, they both managed to climb both on merit and through a brilliant undercut. The McLarens were perfect examples of the power of the undercut in France this year.

Here’s one of the things I got very wrong, I thought Daniel Ricciardo wouldn’t perform very well this race. I’m glad to say that I was wrong because the French GP saw the Australian back in top form, managing to secure a P6 behind his teammate. “It’s about time we got back in these positions, so it was a positive day,” Ricciardo told the media.

While it was all smiles at the McLaren camp, the same could not be said for their main rivals this season, Ferrari. This was a horror show of a race for the Scuderia. They had a solid qualifying with Carlos Sainz in P5 and Charles Leclerc in P7 and the first half of the race looked good for the team. But it all came crashing down as both cars simply ate up the tyres. Both drivers finished out of the points in a shocking display that saw the Ferrari’s being outpaced by the entire top 10. I know Leclerc said that this race would bring Ferrari back to reality, but I don’t believe this is quite the reality they imagined. P11 for Sainz and P16 for Leclerc is not the result anyone was expecting. They’ve lost 3rd place in the Constructor’s to McLaren but it isn’t all over for Ferrari. It’s a long season ahead.

Alpha Tauri it seems are no joke this season especially with consistently great performances from Pierre Gasly. P7 is Gasly’s highest finish at his home GP and it was well earned, even if he couldn’t keep off the McLarens. Even the rookie, Yuki Tsunoda, showed that he has the potential for points. He had to start from the pit lane this race and managed to climb all the way up to P13. While not in the points it was an impressive gain in position. If Tsunoda can work on his qualifying pace then Alpha Tauri will be a serious pain for the rest of the midfield.

The Aston Martins also gave a solid performance on Sunday. Both cars managed to finish in the points which is great for the team considering their position. They didn’t reach the dizzying highs of Baku but this is still a solid result. Sebastian Vettel took P9 and said, “maybe we could have finished a bit higher up if things had been perfect. It was hard to be consistent in such windy conditions, which were tricky for everybody to judge. But we made the best of things and it was a strong performance by the whole team with competitive race pace.”

Lance Stroll finished in P10 which was an extremely strong result considering he started in P19 due to his time being deleted in qualifying. Stroll has been very consistent in the Aston Martin and he managed all his overtakes on track. An impressive feat. Stroll is very underrated on the track, in my opinion. If he can improve on his qualifying pace, he will be in a great position earn points more consistently.  

It was a disappointing race for Alfa Romeo with Antonio Giovinazzi in P15 and Kimi Raikkonen in P17. They were simply outclassed by the Aston Martins, proving that the Aston Martins are progressing as the season goes on while the Alfas remain stagnant. I had high hopes for them but unfortunately this was a prediction I got very wrong.

Williams showed that George Russell can make it work in the less competitive car, managing P12. As Russell said, “Finishing 12th on merit is a great achievement and I would go as far as saying it’s probably the best race I’ve ever had with the team.”

The same couldn’t be said of his teammate Nicholas Latifi who struggled and finished in P18. “I had a good start and did well in the opening corners, but after the first lap I had no grip coming from the tyres and was sliding for a lot of the race.”

The Haas team, while still finishing last, actually had some surprises for us during qualifying. Mick Schumacher managed his first appearance in Q2 which no one had predicted. If Schumacher can take a Haas to Q2, maybe he has the talent to make something of the car. God knows, his teammate, Nikita Mazepin, can’t. Although, Mazepin is closing the gap between himself and Schumacher, it’s doubtful whether or not he has enough talent to take him to the next level.

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