What We Learned from the French Grand Prix

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The Big Picture:  In retrospect, it was probably a poor marketing decision to discontinue the French Grand Prix a decade ago because of poor attendance at the contest at Magny-Cours. But, it’s a move in the right direction to return the series to its birthplace at a reimagined track in the South of France at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Vive le France!

The Event:   Not a toe was put wrong as the British would say. The track looked like a piece of graphic art with its rings of blue and red wrapped around the racing surface. There was a flyover by the French Air Force. The Marseillaise was beautifully performed. And while many said there would be no overtaking at Paul Ricard, they were mistaken.

In Our Last Episode: Sebastian Vettel took his third race win for the year in Montreal.

Qualifying:  Lewis Hamilton earned his 75th career pole, a record in the series.

Start: One of the year’s worst so far with Vettel punting Valtteri Bottas in the first corner causing the bit of drama in the race with both drivers fighting their way back to the front. Fans seemed impressed with Vettel’s passing his way back through the field. French drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly also collided on Lap 1, which had to be a total bummer for them both.

Race:  Hamilton got away right at the start and led every lap with the exception of the one where he pitted for his mandatory tire change to take his 65th career victory. Max Verstappen also had a clean race while taking second. Kimi Raikkonen captured third with his cool professionalism.

What We Will Remember:  Reports of the demise of Mercedes’ dominance were much exaggerated.

Quote of the Weekend: “When you’re constructive and criticize yourself, approach a challenge with new methods and a new-found determination, it’s a great feeling to then get the result. But it’s also disappointing for the team as we had the opportunity to take a 1-2, which is always incredible as you achieve your ultimate goal as a team. I was very comfortable with the balance this afternoon. Max had decent pace, but I could maintain the gap at around five seconds. The fresh engine put us back in line with everyone else who took a new PU in Canada and everybody in the team should be feeling happy today for the good work they have done. But there’s a long way to go and we’ll keep approaching the rest of the season like we approached today.” Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes driver.

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “I think my start was good, perhaps even too good, as I found myself very close to Lewis in front and, when I tried to brake, I had absolutely no grip and there wasn’t much space where I could go: Valtteri on my right was trying to get his position back and Max was also trying to come around on the outside. It’s a shame for Valtteri because he did nothing wrong and it’s a shame for us, because we could have obtained a better result. Fortunately, we could continue racing, we had a good car in the race, but the outcome was not what we wanted. It was my fault, but now let’s move on and think about the next weekend.” Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver

In Our Next Episode: Mercedes promises to announce its 2019 driver lineup “soon”.

Schedule:  The series comes to Austria to race Spielberg’s A-1 Ring on Sunday July 1st.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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