HomeFormula 1Welcome To Le Castellet: All You Need To Know...

Welcome To Le Castellet: All You Need To Know About The French Grand Prix

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After spending well over a decade in the wilderness, the French Grand Prix made a sensational return to the roster in 2018.
In more ways, it was a throwback to a bygone era of Formula 1 where cars running on the V8s and V10s vroomed in irrepressible and unabashed thunder.
Nestled in the sublime Cote d’Azur, the famous Circuit Paul Ricard is a vintage F1 venue, situated miles from Paris and amid the joie de vivre of the quintessential French countryside.
Legends like Prost, Senna, Schumacher, and Piquet among others have driven here in their pomp, long before modern icons like Vettel, Raikkonen or Hamilton made their debuts.
Where most tracks put the cars to the very limit, some putting the viewer and drivers back amid the urban grind, picture Singapore and Monaco, the French Grand Prix places drivers in the middle of a melange of history and long-standing sporting tradition.
So eternal is the famous F1 venue to the world’s fastest form of motor-racing that it is widely believed that the concept of Grand Prix racing emerged here in France.

The first contest being held even before the start of WWI.

French Grand Prix
There’s no Magny Cours now, as Paul Ricard has a contract until 2020 (Mad Mimi)

To think of it from a historical standpoint, this is the track where the superstars of tomorrow- Verstappen, Leclerc- will compete where stalwarts like Fangio and Hunt once battled sans much of the paraphernalia related to safety gear.
A renowned racing venue, the French Grand Prix, until 2008, had fielded as many as 16 different venues.
But in 2018, Le Castellet was checkered with an endless barrage of the French national flags which would soon find the august company of hundreds of thousands of Mercedes flags.
Winning the sensational 53-lap contest akin to an emperor, Lewis Hamilton would extend his lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel putting his Mercedes on top demonstrating a solid drive from the pole position.
Then, enduring a winless-run, despite suffering from a somewhat indifferent form, Valtteri Bottas would set the fastest lap, going at a ballsy 1:34:225 at the 309-km long track.
A faltering Vettel, an imperious Max Verstappen, and a usually relaxed Kimi Raikkonen would form major headlines apart from the leader of the pack, the Dutchman and the Finn making for second and third on the grid.

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Hamilton’s delivers an ace in 2018

While all this while, Hamilton would emerge as an unchallenged ruler in conquering France akin to the legendary Napoleon.
A track designed in a manner that tests the aero-functioning package of a car to the very hilt, Circuit Paul Ricard, designed five decades back in time, is checkered with 9 turns and is 3.812-km long.
Unfurling a nice combination of tight-corners and a long main straight, punctuated by an elongated track design, the French Grand Prix of 2019 could well see some fantastic overtaking maneuvres on Sunday.
With 2 DRS zones, one each on the main straight and the iconic Mistral straight, the track demands nothing less than a fine balance of speed and excellent car control, tricking drivers so accustomed to going at over 300 km to wither down almost to the first gear whilst tackling the last corner, a tight-right hander.

Now over to the drivers and teams!

French Grand Prix
Lewis had won his 66th race when he conquered France, in 2018

While Ferrari and Red Bull will enter round eight ever so accustomed of facing what could most likely be another Mercedes domination, we might have an excellent chance to see another Hamilton versus Vettel show, something that didn’t exactly end with too many smiles for the red cars.
A controversy that would escalate given the polarising views as to whether the five-second penalty handed to Vettel- at Montreal-was fair or a bit too harsh could well see the German hoist the Italian flag on this classy French dominion.
While Lewis would want nothing more than another win, hopefully, his sixth of the season, and teammate Bottas, with two victories against his name would desire a third, Ferrari would fancy their chances as well.
This is despite team principal Mattia Binotto spilling water on the fiery desire for a much-wanted Ferrari win suggesting, “the track isn’t suited for the SF-90!”
While that is something that the race will unfold, one can be sure that Vettel and Leclerc will be going on an out-and-out attack to pounce on Mercedes, not to mention the threat of Mad Max cropping up as a thrill.
While Renault will fancy something bright for their home Grand Prix contest, with Ricciardo’s newfound confidence- following a fighting P6 at Montreal- fanning their flames, it’ll be stupid to undermine the likes of McLaren and Haas, with in-form Carlos Sainz seeming in good touch, even as K-Mag would want to make up for a somber Canadian Grand Prix.

But that said, what can the likes of Kimi do?

French Grand Prix
© Copyright: Charniaux / xpb.cc

For someone who won over a decade back in time, albeit at Magny Cours, can the Iceman keep his cool to revive the fledgling campaign of Alfa Romeo?
On a venue where Ferrari’s ace Michael Schumacher has delivered sensational victories, on 8 separate occasions, with Ferrari winning on a remarkable 17 occasions, who will prevail in this lair of the titans?

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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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