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  • Reese Mautone

Fabuleux En France!

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

Dreams Came True Whilst Nightmares Became A Reality

How the top 5 constructors surfaced from the 2021 French Grand Prix

After a year away from Paul Ricard, Formula 1 finally returned for the French GP last Sunday. In a race where the heavily anticipated rain never fell, France gave viewers a taste of what strategy and risk-taking in this sport are all about. Red Bull continued their dominance securing a 3-race winning streak, the longest in the history of the team, over the unsuspecting Mercedes team.


RED BULL

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez used France as a chance to prove why they are one of the strongest pairings this season, clinching P1 and P3 from the presumably dominant Mercedes. Whilst every team fought to come to terms with the rapid tyre degradation, Red Bull strategists made the crucial decision to call race leader Verstappen in to pit for a fresh set of Medium Tyres, this undercut ultimately being the move that secured a double podium for the Austrian team.

Red Bull's cars were both under intense dissection in the media this week as a result of rear wing and tyre pressure accusations, however, Christian Horner claiming that their double podium only worked to disprove the whispers.


In the Constructor's Championship, Red Bull maintains their slim lead of 37 points ahead Mercedes, and Max Verstappen alike, holding a 12 point lead over 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton heading into this week's Styrian Grand Prix in Spielberg, Austria, the home of Red Bull.


Last year, Austria gave the bulls mixed results with Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton having a repeat of their collision in Brazil, 2019, and Verstappen with an electrical failure 11 laps into the Austrian GP. However, this new season has brought along as many differences as it has similarities, with the Austrian team hoping for two weeks of success on their home soil.

Red Bull could beat Mercedes “anywhere” if it could do so at Paul Ricard according to Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner.

MERCEDES

The French GP was a race Mercedes strategists would rather forget, with the pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas failing to outdo the charging bulls once again. After gaining the lead off Max Verstappen's Lap 1 Turn 2 blunder, Hamilton's strategy fell flat, letting him down when he pitted at the end of Lap 19.

Mistakenly, Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' trackside

engineering director, explained that the team’s modelling system predicted a gap in which Hamilton was safe from the undercut, but as we all know, this was not the case, making Hamilton prey dangling in front of Verstappen.


Radio conversations broadcast during the race revealed an angry Bottas, frustrated with the disbelief his team had in him when contending that the race would be a two-stopper, however exciting Mercedes Team Boss Toto Wolff who has been searching for emotion in Bottas for some time now, going as far as to say he 'loved' the fiery interaction.


The French GP revealed off-track cracks in the fairytale of the silver arrow, however, based off of on-track performance, the Styrian GP should bring an entertaining battle between the top two constructors.

“Even now, we don't fully understand why our models were telling us that we would have been OK. So clearly there's something we need to go off and understand there.”

MCLAREN

The papayas impressed McLaren fans and all F1 fans alike with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both doting strong results in P5 and P6 respectively. The biggest takeaway from France - the return of Riccardo. In true fashion, and of course to honour the passing of Mansour Ojjeh, Ricciardo's trusty talents returned to the track.

Ricciardo had fans around the world, as well as at the track, wowed by his remarkable overtaking skills, even managing to lead his team-mate for a significant portion of the Grand Prix, a change for many of the pairing's previous outings.


Edging ahead of their closest rivals in that of Scuderia Ferrari, Mclaren ended the weekend in P3, 16 points clear of P4 despite qualifying lower down the grid than their closest challengers.


Norris continued his 7-race points streak, being the only driver this season to do so, making a strong impression concerning his 2021 performance. In 2020, Norris came home with P3 after a 5-second penalty was handed to Lewis Hamilton, proving that a podium is not out of the question once again for the ever-improving Mclaren.

"I'm hoping we can try to replicate last season's results. It’s probably going to be very difficult, but we'll do our best."

FERRARI

When reflecting on the 2021 season, the French GP is not one Tifosi will looking back on too fondly with the Scuderia having one of their poorest results of the season, coming home pointless for both drivers. Carlos Sainz, showing enough pace to out-qualify his Monegasque team-mate Charles Leclerc, qualified P5 on Saturday, teasing the potential of Ferrari, only to fall short on Sunday.

Leclerc finished in a disappointing P16, behind the

Sainz in P11, causing the team to slide down the ranking in the fight for P3 in the Constructor's Championship. According to both drivers, it's too early to tell whether or not this is a trend that fans will continue to see in upcoming races.


Ferrari has launched an impressive immediate investigation into discovering the reason behind the exact conditions that lead to these issues, potentially being down to rapid front tyre degradation.


Austria is a track that Leclerc has proved highly capable in the past, and with an exciting chance of rain, Sainz's impressive wet-racing skills have the potential to be expelled. It's either a weekend of recovery or more pain for the Scuderia in Austria this weekend, making a nervous few days for Tifosi around the world.

“We feel like [the issue] was more specific to France, but it’s not impossible that we find it again here or next weekend,”

And finally...

ALPHATAURI

The Red Bull sister-team AlphaTauri came home with Pierre Gasly in P7 and Yuki Tsunoda P13, further cementing their lead over Aston Martin by 7 points.


Tsunoda crashed out early in Q1, leading to the team making changes to the floor and suspension of his AT02, which forced the rookie to start the race from the pits on a track that is characteristically hard to overtake on, however, Tsunoda impressively made up 3 places on Lap 1. After his first pitstop, Tsunoda struggled to regain the pace that he had in the opening laps of the race, settling for P13 at the checkered flag.

The French GP revealed off-track cracks in the fairytale of the silver arrows, however, based off of on-track performance, the Styrian GP should bring an entertaining battle between the top two constructors. ttles with the likes of both Ferraris, Fernando Alonso and more. P7 was a satisfying reward for the team and Gasly as well, who despite being happy with his final standing would have liked a higher result for this home GP.


With the likes of Mclaren and Ferrari currently out of reach, AlphaTauri's biggest rival in the Constructors Championship in Aston Martin, in which they extended their lead over the British team by 3 points in France, looking to further this in Austria over the next two weekends.

"The fight in the midfield is very tight but we are up for the challenge and our competitors can count on us to make their lives difficult until the final race in Abu Dhabi."

This weekend's Styrian GP, the second race of the first triple-header of the season, is certain to bring entertaining scenes into the lounge-rooms of millions around the globe with rain forecast, exciting track action guaranteed and the tightest fight for the drivers and constructors championship we've seen in a long time.

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