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2021: French Grand Prix Preview

The 2021 French Grand Prix will be held at the Circuit Paul Ricard, following Red Bull’s two consecutive victories. The last two times F1 has raced in Le Castellet, Mercedes had everything going their way. Will that change this time around? Are you willing to make a bet against it happening?

Drivers will complete 53 laps over the 5.842-kilometre track for a total distance of 309.69 kilometres. The track contains a total of fifteen turns, which is one of the least turns on the F1 schedule. Vettel holds the track record at Paul Ricard. In 2019, he ran a staggering time of 1:32.740.

Mercedes dominated Paul Ricard since F1 returned to the French site in 2018, after a 28-year layoff, to the point where no other team has led any session other than Mercedes in that period. During that time, Mercedes also took a pair of front-row lockouts. With two poles in two years, Lewis Hamilton has shown the rest of the field how it's done. However, it's vital to remember that Paul Ricard is a premier test track because of its diverse range of corner types, with the circuit honouring the best driver in the best car in 2018 and 2019.

While Max Verstappen couldn't qualify within six-tenths of Hamilton at Paul Ricard in 2018 and 2019, the same was true at the identical Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during those two years. This year, the difference in Spain was only 0.036s. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari is presently the in-form driver on Saturdays, having secured pole in the last two races. However, both of these results were likely aided by Q3 incidents that stopped other drivers from completing second runs, and Ferrari may find it tougher in France.

Hamilton won the 2019 French Grand Prix and finished just over eighteen seconds ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second. Leclerc finished third, rounding out the podium. Mercedes won for the eighth time in 2019, and it was the team's sixth one-two finish of the season. The race itself wasn't that exciting, but there were a few incidents. Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh, although he received two five-second time penalties for his last lap shenanigans. On the final lap, Lando Norris experienced hydraulic troubles, and as Ricciardo attempted to pass him, he dived deep at Turn 8, forcing Norris off the track.

Räikkönen was able to overtake as a result, but Ricciardo fought back and passed him on the straight. He was handed a five-second penalty for failing to rejoin the track safely and a second penalty for passing Räikkönen off track on the straight. The only other driver to retire was Romain Grosjean, who did so on Lap 44.

Mercedes will be looking to reclaim their form following two disappointing races in Monaco and Baku. They only scored six points in both races, compared to Red Bull's 62 points in both races and a 26 point lead over Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship. The race for third place between Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren F1 Team has become even more competitive. After Baku, Ferrari overtook McLaren, and the gap between the two teams is currently just two points.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda's first double-points finish of the season came in the last race. That will undoubtedly give them the motivation to pursue McLaren, especially following Gasly's podium in Baku. With Räikkönen's point in Baku, the only drivers still without a point are those from Williams Racing and Uralkali Haas F1 Team.

Last time out, Sergio Perez won a two-lap mini-race after a late red flag due to a tyre rupture for Max Verstappen, with Lewis Hamilton locking up going into the first corner at the restart and falling out of the points. Following Pirelli's admission that the blowouts suffered by Verstappen and Lance Stroll were not caused by debris, you might hear a lot of chatter about tyres this weekend if you watch the entire programme.

It's a tremendous win for Perez personally, but it's also a significant boost for Red Bull's chances of winning the first constructors title of the turbo-hybrid era. This year, they have a car capable of challenging Mercedes, and they now have two drivers capable of attacking them as well. With Hamilton, Bottas, and Verstappen all failing to score in Baku, Sergio's victory ensures they move to France with a 26-point lead in the Constructors standings.

One of the intriguing tales heading into this weekend is that we have no idea what the starting order will be on Sunday. The back-to-back street races in Monaco and Baku favoured cars that perform well at low speeds with limited opportunity for driver mistake, while the Circuit Paul Ricard features large run-off areas and lengthy straights that will favour vehicles with a higher peak speed.

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