The Formula One season is underway, and things are already going well for defending champion Lewis Hamilton. Before the season started, everyone expected a tighter clash between Ferrari and Mercedes, but Hamilton and Mercedes had other ideas. With seven races behind us, Hamilton is sitting quite comfortably at the top, with his team colleague Valtteri Bottas right behind. Sebastian Vettel is having quite a disappointing season, yet there’s a growing belief that things could turn around soon.
The French GP scheduled for 20-23 June is the next race on the calendar and possibly a turning point of the season. Traditionally, the French Grand Prix, which came back to the F1 calendar in 2018 after a lengthy absence, is a cornerstone race for Ferrari. The Italian manufacturer counts 17 wins at the French GP and won it three times in a row before it was taken off the calendar and before Lewis Hamilton won last year.
However, many leading experts believe that the French GP could be a turning point in the season if either Vettel or Leclerc wins the race. It will give Ferrari a much-needed confidence boost and put the team in a prime position after the failure in the first six rounds.
History of the French Grand Prix
The French GP is one of the oldest motor races in the world. Held since 1906, the Grand Prix has moved frequently around France in its long history. It has been held on 16 different venues, with the legendary Magny-Cours one of the most popular F1 tracks of all time.
Due to unfavourable financial circumstances and venues, the French GP was taken off the F1 calendar in 2008. The race was suspended for 10 years before returning in 2018, now with a new circuit – Paul Ricard. The tricky turns offer quite exciting action in this Grand Prix spread over 53 laps. Since its inception, Ferrari is the most successful team on the track – the Italian juggernaut won it a total of 17 times. The legendary Michael Schumacher tops the list of best performers at the French GP with 8 wins.
Before the race was taken off the calendar in 2008, Ferrari won it three times in a row and 4 times in the previous 5 years. Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, and Felipe Massa were the last three drivers who won it, and Ferrari was a major favourite in 2018 as well. However, the brilliant Lewis Hamilton didn’t let this fact go to his head, securing the pole position and the win in front of Valtteri Bottas last year.
2019 French GP Predictions
With nearly a third of the new season already gone, the French GP could provide answers to many questions. Up until now, everything suggests a new title for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. However, since Ferrari has been traditionally doing well at the French GP, it might be a turning point in 2019.
It’s fair to say that Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel have disappointed their fans this year. The Italian manufacturer and the German driver have promised a much better car and performance in the offseason, yet things are still not going so well. As a matter of fact, Ferrari hasn’t been able to win a single race. It could have happened at the Canadian GP, yet Vettel was controversially penalised after leading most of the race which essentially handed Lewis Hamilton the win.
Both Vettel and new driver Charles Leclerc have failed to perform admirably in the other races. Things, however, are looking up. Vettel secured the second spot in each of the last two races, and there’s a belief among his fans that the French GP could be the start of a Ferrari renaissance. We’ll get the answer this weekend. The qualifiers start on June 20, and whoever wins the pole position will be in a top spot to win the race as well.
Mercedes’ Chances French Grand Prix 2019
Mercedes’ dominance in the past few years looks similar to Ferrari’s in early 00s. The German giant would have almost no competition if it wasn’t for Ferrari, which, frankly, isn’t up to the daunting task. Lewis Hamilton has been incredible in the past 5 years, winning the title 4 times during this period. Hamilton has a total of 5 titles just like the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and is getting close to Michael Schumacher’s record of 7.
With a brilliant start this season, it seems like Hamilton and Mercedes are on their way to a new title. The British driver has won 5 out of the 7 races so far, with the other 2 going to his team colleague Valtteri Bottas. What’s even more striking is that Hamilton has only secured two pole positions in the 7 races so far which confirms his brilliant form.
Last year, it was Hamilton who won the resurrected French GP. The British driver secured the pole position and won the race in front of Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, leaving his biggest opponent Sebastian Vettel back on the fifth spot. Before the race, Vettel held a one-point lead over Hamilton, and it all went downhill for Ferrari from there. It was one of the turning points of the 2018 season and it could be the same this year.
Of course, Hamilton is still the main favourite for this year’s race. However, if you take into consideration Ferrari’s dominance at the French GP and Vettel’s good run of form as of late, we could be in for quite a few surprises.
Ferrari’s Chances French Grand Prix 2019
In total contrast to last year’s start, Ferrari has ultimately failed to start this season in a positive way. The Italian team is still to record a win even after its drivers had a few pole positions. Charles Leclerc has been an inspirational signing and looks like a future champion already. However, there have been concerns over Vettel’s form and his obvious impatience with the car’s performance.
It’s not like the German driver isn’t right. Ferrari has failed to produce a car that performs up to a high level year after year, with Mercedes taking the mantle from them. If the Maranello-based team wants to get back to winning ways, it simply must design a better car than Mercedes. There’s no question that Vettel and Leclerc are great drivers. However, they’ve ultimately been failed by the manufacturer’s inability to make a competitive car.
Things might change this weekend. With 17 wins in the history of the French GP, Ferrari obviously knows what needs to be done n France. Of course, they failed to win it last year, but at least Kimi Raikkonen appeared on the podium. This gives Ferrari fans hope that Vettel and Leclerc can have a good weekend in France. If they do, Ferrari’s self-confidence will go sky high which could in turn spark Italian dominance in the Formula One.
There’s still a long way to go before the season ends, and even though Hamilton looks like a lock for the title, everything can change soon. Ferrari certainly won’t end the season without a single win and the French GP looks like an ideal race that will help them jump back into the title race. Vettel and Leclerc will need to be on their best, of course. Considering Vettel’s improved form over the last two races, he will certainly be looking to top the podium.
Who’s the Favourite?
Bookies have rightfully made Lewis Hamilton the favourite for the upcoming French Grand Prix. The Brit has had a stellar season so far and the fact that he won the race last year goes in his favour as well. Hamilton leads the list of favourites with odds starting from 8/11. Mercedes tops the list in manufacturer’s favourites as well, sitting ahead of Ferrari.
The Ferrari duo isn’t even on the second spot. According to most bookies, Valtteri Bottas is a second to none favourite for the French GP. It’s easy to see why. Aside from Hamilton, Bottas is the only driver to win a race this year – he has two wins behind his name. This means that the Mercedes duo is more likely to win the race than any other driver, possibly even earning a 1-2 victory.
Where Does Ferrari Stand?
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are currently the 3rd and 4th favourite to win the French GP. Due to Mercedes’ dominance, it’s obvious why bookies have decided so. Vettel’s odds start at 9/2, while Leclerc is given odds of 7/1 to win the race – it would be the young’s driver’s maiden win.
Although not that big of a favourite when compared to Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel is a much better option from a punter’s point of view. If Ferrari can get the qualifications right, there’s a great chance Vettel appears on the top podium spot. Let’s not forget that the German driver has 4 titles behind his name. His quality is indisputable, but other factors may ultimately decide Vettel’s performance at the French Grand Prix.