After Lewis Hamilton set yet another blistering lap during the qualifying at Circuit Paul Ricard, taking the pole by a riveting 1:28:319, something’s became immediately clear about the 2019 French Grand Prix.
On race day, the 2019 French Grand Prix may just mean business as usual for the Mercedes driver. However, with teammate Valtteri Bottas creeping up closer on second, Lewis may have to negotiate a tough battle at Le Castellet.
But apart from the usual Mercedes brilliance, there were quite a few interesting performances from the remainder on the grid.
Yet another competitive display from the midfielders saw Haas and Alfa Romeo struggle as they did back in Canada. But it wasn’t quite the case for Renault and Scuderia Toro Rosso, with at least one driver among the two managing a decent place on the grid.
While Ricciardo did his best and climbed on to a P8, it wasn’t so for Hulkenberg, who begins his French challenge from P13. Similarly, while Alex Albon did well enough to gather a P11, finishing just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, his teammate, Daniil Kvyat had the ignominy of holding onto the rear-end of the grid.
A dream day for the two McLarens, with Lando Norris, managing a career-best P5 and Sainz, grabbing his best start at France in the form of a P6, respectively, may just fuel the contest a little further. Probably, Vettel, managing no better than a seventh(his worst start to any Grand Prix this year), may have a go early at the two orange cars stacked in front of him.
And if the German, someone with a history of opening lap skirmishes marked by the innate ability to spin unexpectedly, gets some leeway, we could see some daring moves inside the opening lap.
That told, what are the 5 possible outcomes or probabilities at the 2019 French Grand Prix?
A win by Valtteri Bottas?
The last Grand Prix won by Valtteri Bottas this year was at Baku, home to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. It was the same track where the Finn suffered the ignominy of retiring in the final moments, at a time where he was controlling the proceedings.
But on Saturday, as his teammate managed to set the fastest lap of the session, a record-breaking 1:28:319, Bottas managed an impressive second, ending up inside three-tenths of a second behind the British driver.
On race-day, Bottas, in search of another win, something he’s missed out on for four back-to-back occasions, may just demonstrate a strong drive at Le Castellet.
But will it be that easy to breach past the defenses of a five-time world champion?
McLaren’s Young Drivers Can Write Their Own History
On race day, both Norris and Sainz will like to really have a go in order to make most of their strong starts at Circuit Paul Ricard. Not since 2019 French Grand Prix qualifying has Norris managed a better start to any race, while his teammate, who begins from sixth on the grid, ahead of Ferrari’s struggling Sebastian Vettel will be keen to hold on to his place whilst defending from the multiple championship-winning German driver.
That said, where will Sainz and Norris end up? Can we see Sainz, the more experienced of the two finally manage his maiden podium in F1? Or if not, can he replicate his best Grand Prix performance, that scintillating P4 at Singapore, in 2017?
Surely, the Spaniard will fancy adding some useful points to his tally. He’s amassed 18 points so far with seven contests done.
A day for Antonio Giovinazzi to remember?
Could the 2019 French Grand Prix finally be the race where the talented Italian driver finally opens his account in Formula 1? Earlier this year, Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi managed to get his best position in F1, in the form of that competitive eleventh.
A fortnight ago, he’d finish ahead of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, for the second consecutive race, as seen at Montreal.
At France, however, Giovinazzi stands a great chance to score some useful points for an Alfa Romeo whose 2019 campaign has gone from being impressive into being somewhat dour and inexplicably so, following their failure to collect any points starting Spain.
But for Giovinazzi, who begins ahead of Raikkonen, stacked at twelfth, to score his first points in F1, he’ll have to give it everything in a contest where there’s very less margin for error.
Is the 2019 French Grand Prix going to unveil Leclerc’s third podium?
21-year-old Charles Leclerc has quickly emerged as one of the most vital and respected talents on the grid. Following a heartening display at Bahrain’s electrifying Sakhir, a contest where the Monegasque driver was all set to claim his first win, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding the Ferrari driver being of a world championship-material.
That said, any doubts about Leclerc’s Bahrain effort being a one-hit wonder quickly dissipated following a commendable drive at Montreal, that would yield his second podium.
That said, Charles, who begins the 2019 French Grand Prix, a venue where’s he’s racing only for the second time in his career, will be aware of the “Verstappen-threat”(another young driver, albeit among the fiercest men on the grid). Make no mistake. Max Verstappen would want to rush his way through into the podium finishes.
This is where Ferrari’s strategy- should they go for a classic one stop, make the undercut work- will be tested, again.
Vettel to finish inside top-five?
Will the four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel be able to salvage something at Le Castellet, where he begins from a lowly seventh?
There’ll be a lot of pressure on the minds of the Ferrari drivers at France, not in the least, Sebastian Vettel. Fresh from a controversy-marked Canadian Grand Prix, a contest where he all but won, Sebastian Vettel had a disappointing qualifying run on Saturday.
Not since the French GP did Vettel endure another damp qualifying contest. His P7 is the worst start he’s had in any race this season. But once the five red lights go green, the 2013 World Champion will be mindful of the contest that’ll he will have to win immediately with seconds of the start.
He’ll be aware that in front of him will be the two McLarens, fast but not fast enough vis-a-vis his SF 90, a car whose straight-line speed could prove a daunting challenge for his naysayers to mount in the 53-lap contest.
That said, how well can the German respond to a unique French challenge? Is a place inside the top-five on the cards? Lights out, and away we go.