HomeFormula 1Hamilton storms to pole at Circuit Paul Ricard as...

Hamilton storms to pole at Circuit Paul Ricard as F1 returns to France

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Mercedes jumped on the opportunity with Formula 1 returning to Circuit Paul Ricard France after a decade. Lewis Hamilton clinched pole at the French Grand Prix, 2018 ahead of teammate Bottas and Sebastien Vettel.
Amid an air of great anticipation of seeing a titanic duel between Ferrari and Mercedes, it was all Mercedes with an unstoppable Hamilton, followed by teammate Valtteri Bottas making Ferrari’s life difficult locking out the front row.

Hamilton storms to pole for much-awaited French Grand Prix

In clinching the 75th career pole, Lewis Hamilton was a third of a second clear of arch-rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. The German completing the top three, secured what could only be called a modest qualifying session for the Scuderia stable, whose other driver, Kimi Raikkonen could only do as much as gather a lowly P6.
It wasn’t too bad a qualifying run for the Red Bulls either, with Max Verstappen tucked in behind Vettel, capturing a fourth as teammate, Daniel Ricciardo finished nearly a second ahead of Raikkonen on fifth.

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Ferrari’s chances stuck in limbo?

A legendary track in the annals of motor-racing history, Circuit Paul Ricard, last held a Grand Prix race in 2008. While it was Kimi Raikkonen who clinched the win for Ferrari, it certainly looks the French track will have the English ruling this weekend.
Heading into the French Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel holds the lead over Briton, Lewis Hamilton by a single point. Unless we are in for a skirmish or sudden drama that nosedives the Mercedes’ chances, it shouldn’t be difficult for Hamilton to usurp Vettel where the 2018 world championship stands.
Although that said, from a historical perspective, the iconic Circuit Paul Ricard has observed an out and out Ferrari dominance.
Legendary motor-racing icon Michael Schumacher holds what could only be called an enigmatic record of 8 wins, the most by a driver and the most for Ferrari.

A dominant Ferrari record to face competition from Mercedes

But all of that could be set for sudden stat shake-up as on current menacing pace, Mercedes look indomitable. For all of Saturday and Friday, Ferrari never lapped faster than the Brackley-based team and this could render a decisive blow for the Scuderia’s chances on Sunday.
This will leave fans and pundits to gauge whether Ferrari can salvage something special at the 5.8 km long track, underlined by 53 laps and, peppered by the iconic 2.1 km long Mistral Straight.

This is where one could massively expect an overtaking opportunity.

By putting the old financial issues behind that truncated its run in the sport and embracing F1 in a new Rendezvous can Paul Ricard be expected to unfurl a Red Bull surprise?
Amid wobbly rumours and uncertainties regarding his racing future, there will always be an eye out for Ricciardo, who, currently at P5 looks neither too down in the grid and nor too threatening.
But all it could take for this master of ‘late braking’ would be a move or two put up a sparkling lap, having already shown dominant race pace all of the previous Grand Prix at Montreal, where Ricciardo delivered the fastest lap.
In what will be their maiden challenge at France, both Verstappen, confident and on-form following a P3 at Montreal and Ricciardo would be keen to muster a good and hopefully, accident-free fight.
But that said, it may not be a cakewalk to ace the oldest track on the roster, a circuit that first organized a Grand Prix race back in 1971.
Located in the sunny south of France, circuit Paul Ricard, nestled in between Marseilles and Toulon will be expected to unfurl a Mercedes versus Ferrari saga.
But at the same time, Red Bull, ever the holders of a surprise wild card would fancy their chances on a track marked with a smooth and grippy tarmac.

How does the track pan out?

Emblazoned with 15 high-radius and fast, edgy turns, drivers will not only have to contend with the feisty challenge of Turn 1 and 2, they’ll be pushed to the limit in countering the acerbic challenge of the chicane, plucked in between Turns 8 and 9. To counter the magnanimity of a track like Circuit Paul Ricard, one would need great straight-line speed and some darn good handling in the plucky corners.
Whether we see a lot of overtaking is purely a matter of conjecture for now. But what cannot be ruled out is some ballsy driving out there in the exuberance of France.

Not the best possible position for Vettel?

Having confessed struggles regarding the right ‘balance’ between aerodynamic functioning and tyre management, while Vettel doesn’t seem mighty pleased in that SF 70-H, it looks all decent and plum for the Mercedes.
Dynamic and competitive, Lewis Hamilton, aware of Ferrari’s traditional prowess here at Le Castellet would be keen to register a gold of a performance for the Silver Arrows.

It will be great ‘Finn’ if Kimi or Bottas were to win

But while Ferrari enjoy the statistical exuberance of enjoying most wins here- 17- what definitely seems under a threat is losing the lap record, a cracker of 1:16:630, registered by the ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen given Mercedes’ searing pace. Interestingly, a win for either of the Finns, although nearly uncertain for Kimi would also bring the delight in a serious number.
Should Raikkonen win, it would be a maiden win since 2013; his first for Ferrari since 2014 while for Bottas it would be his maiden win for 2018. In either case, it would notch up the 50th win for a Finn in Formula 1.
That said, what can Vettel-as most Ferrari fans would concede- would continue the usual tradition- that of a German driver dominating a French racing track.
Ace something for Michael’s unputdownable legacy Seb?

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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