Another 1-2 win for Mercedes in the F1 French GP
Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas sealed another 1-2 finish for Mercedes in the French Grand Prix, the eighth of 21 rounds in the 2019 Formula One World Championship. On June 23, 2019, Formula One went back to where the Grand Prix auto racing began more than a century ago—in France. This year’s race marked the 87th running of the French Grand Prix and the 59th time that it has been included in the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Circuit Paul Ricard hosted the 2019 F1 French GP
Officially known as the Pirelli Grand Prix de France, this year’s French GP was held at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. This purpose-built track has a course length of 3.630 miles and is characterized by its elongated and superfast Mistral Straight and tyre-burning turns. This is the second time that the circuit had been used since the 10-year absence of the French GP in the F1 calendar.
Hamilton took pole position
Having clocked the best qualifying time, the Briton took the pole position as had been the case in most of his earlier wins. He shared the first row with teammate Valterri Bottas, who occupied the outer position. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen occupied the inner and outer positions in the second row, respectively.
Interestingly, the positions of the first four qualifiers in the starting grid reflect the exact final race result, with Hamilton finishing the 53 laps in 1:24:31.198 and Bottas following him 18.056 seconds later. With Hamilton’s masterful lead and the powerful performance of the three, it was inevitable that they’d finish in the first four.
How the F1 race was won and lost in the South of France
These are the highlights of the 2019 French GP:
- Early on in lap 3, Verstappen raised an issue about his engine but later reported that it reverted to normal. He dropped to 5th place in lap 20 but recovered his initial position in lap 24.
- Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who started 7th on the grid, overtook the two McLarens (Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.) on laps 5 and 7 to take the fifth place.
- Norris suffered from hydraulic problems late in the race and slipped to the tenth position, while teammate Sainz recovered his initial 6th place.
- Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who started 8th on the grid, provided a rare moment of excitement and finished 7th with his daring maneuvers in the final lap. However, this drew the Australian two 5-second penalties and landed him on the 11th no-point position instead.
- Leclerc and Verstappen were shoulder to shoulder for most part of the race. Vettel was able to briefly snatch their 3rd and 4th positions in laps 20 and 21 but fell behind Verstappen after a pit stop for hard tyres in lap 24.
- Leclerc challenged Bottas’ position many times, closing in on the latter in the final lap. The Finn, however, was able to stave him off by a very slim margin.
- Hamilton and Bottas alternately set a fast lap starting with 1:36.290 in lap 4 to 1:32.764 in the last. Vettel, however, beat them by setting the fastest lap at 1:32.740 after switching to soft tyres in the final laps. Vettel earned an extra point for his speed in the last lap, though it was not fast enough to overtake Verstappen in the 4th position, so he had to settle for the 5th.
- Driver’s winning record: This is Hamilton’s 79th career win, 6th win for this season, 4th win in a row, and 2nd French GP win.
- Constructor’s winning record: This is the Mercedes team’s 50th 1-2 finish, 8th win for this season, 10th consecutive victory, and 7th French GP win ever.
Finding the edge and building the gap
Critics were quick to say that the French GP was uneventful. They thought that the Formula One has become boring, and especially with the Mercedes team raking all the wins in this season’s grands prix, not to mention that they dominated six out of eight races in a 1-2 finish.
Hamilton, however, insists that it wasn’t an easy win. He had complaints about a broken seat early in the race and had two blistered front tyres. He said that the challenge in any race is in finding the edge and building the gap. A newsman went as far as forecasting that it’s the end of F1 when only Hamilton is having all the fun.
To be fair to Hamilton, it’s not his fault that he keeps winning and the others are falling behind. Back in the days when Schumacher had been piling victory over victories for Ferrari, the same reactions were also heard about F1 becoming predictable. With 13 grands prix ahead, things can still change for the other teams. They can find wisdom in Hamilton’s words—to find the edge and then build the gap.
Final results of the 2019 F1 French GP, first 5 positions
This looked like an ominous win for Hamilton right from the moment when he took the pole position. The same could be said of Bottas and Leclerc who started on the front grid and joined him on the podium later. The list below summarizes the final race results for the first five positions.
Team and Number
Red Bull, #33
Championship standings before and after the 2019 F1 French GP
We could be wrong, but there seems to be a pattern. The same names appear on the top 5 Formula One championship standings. We’re showing below their points before and after the 2019 F1 French GP:
Team and Number
Points before the 2019 F1 French GP
Points after the 2019 F1 French GP
Red Bull, #33
8 races done, 13 more ahead
Is it a battle between these 5 strong contenders? Or is there a potential game changer among the 20 contenders who has yet to emerge? Will 2019 be another feather to add to Hamilton’s array of F1 World Championship titles won in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018? He’s one of the drivers with the most pole positions converted to wins. Will this lucky pattern hold true till the remaining races?
Things can happen in Formula One, and with 13 grands prix more ahead, it’s too early to tell. What’s certain is that you should keep yourself posted for the Austrian Grand Prix, which comes next!
Author - Patrick Lumontod