PREVIEW: 2018 Formula 1 French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard


Paul Ricard - Red Bull - Tyre Test 2016
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Round 8 of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes us to Le Castellet for the French Grand Prix. Returning for the first time since 2008, France welcomes F1 back at the Paul Ricard circuit. The circuit located outside of Marseille will host an F1 Grand Prix for the first time since 1990 with a brand new configuration for the weekend. With a new location for F1, here is our preview for the upcoming event.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME OUT IN FRANCE?

F1 last hosted an event within the country of France in 2008 at the Circuit de Magny Cours. It was a Scuderia Ferrari one-two led by Felipe Massa ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, who suffered an exhaust failure whilst in the race. Third place went to Jarno Trulli with Panasonic Toyota Racing whilst he fended off Heikki Kovalainen for the final podium spot. Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren finished the race down in tenth after he suffered a drive-through penalty for cutting a corner and gaining an advantage. This race would turn out to be the last Grand Prix in France and at Magny Cours after it was dropped from the 2009 F1 calendar and never returned since then.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX?

Sebastian Vettel converted pole position into a win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to take his third win of the season. The German comfortably won from the front to reclaim the world championship lead away from Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas claimed second place ahead of Max Verstappen, who finally had a clean weekend after suffering multiple accidents throughout the opening rounds of the season. His Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished in fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton who rounds off the top 5.

The opening lap saw a dramatic crash between Lance Stroll and Brendon Hartley as their races were cut short. The pair collided at turn 5 when the Williams Martini Racing driver suffered oversteer in the corner, which caused contact with Hartley who was on the outside of the corner. The hit send both cars out of the race and brought out the safety car.

One of the talking points after the race was the controversial wave of the chequered flag a lap early. After miscommunication by a marshal, celebrity Winnie Harlow wave the flag on lap 69, but the FIA stated that Harlow was not to blame for the incident.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?

For the first time since 1990, Formula 1 will return to Paul Ricard as a Grand Prix venue. The circuit hasn’t changed much since the nineties but the modern configuration F1 will use this weekend will be a fresh layout for the drivers to tackle. Some drivers will have experienced racing the Paul Ricard track in their junior careers. A talking point no doubt that’ll occur over the weekend will be on track limits. The 3.6 mile circuit is filled with lots of run-off, designed as a test track for manufacturers to test their new machines. With the new layout and everyone trying to get themselves suited to the track, they’ll be plenty of drivers who’ll make mistakes during free practice.

This weekend will also see the start of the first ever triple-header in F1, with three races in three straight weekends. France will start first, with next weekend taking place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria before moving onto Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.

Three French drivers will have the honour of representing France this weekend. Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon will be racing on homesoil for the first time in their careers and hope to bring a special result home for the fans in attendance this week.

After delaying their engine upgrade at the last round in Canada, Mercedes are set to introduce this weekend. Canada saw Mercedes lose out to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull who brought their updates whilst the Silver Arrows delayed theirs for France. The introduction of their new engine should help Mercedes catch up with their rivals.

After his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Fernando Alonso returns to the F1 stage with the McLaren F1 Team. Having completed two thirds of the Motorsport ‘triple crown’, no doubt he’ll be asked questions relating to his future since all he needs to do now is win the Indy500.

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEKEND?

Friday 22nd June

Free Practice 1: 11:00AM (GMT Time)/12:00PM (France Time)
Free Practice 2: 15:00PM (GMT Time)/16:00PM (France Time)

Saturday 23rd June

Free Practice 3: 12:00PM (GMT Time)/13:00PM (France Time)
Qualifying: 15:00PM (GMT Time)/16:00PM (France Time)

Sunday 24th June

Race Start: 15:10PM (GMT Time)/16:10PM (France Time)

WHERE CAN I WATCH FORMULA 1 IN FRANCE?

Sky Sports F1 will be showing all sessions live in the UK and Ireland. Channel 4 will be broadcasting qualifying and race highlights after the race.

You can watch the weekend’s action via F1 TV but are only available in selected countries around the world.

HOW CAN I KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL OF THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?

The Checkered Flag will provide you the latest news, updates and reports over the weekend’s action and throughout the 2018 FIA Formula 1 Championship.