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Team-by-team review of the French Grand Prix

A look back at how all 20 drivers got on at the first French GP in ten years.

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Team-by-team review of the French Grand Prix
Fuente imagen: @F1


Lewis Hamilton (1st); Valtteri Bottas (7th) 

Following a disappointing weekend in Canada, Lewis Hamilton returned to form in France. He topped both Friday sessions and was quickest in all three segments of qualifying to take the 75th pole position of his career. A good start saw him keep the lead and controlled the race beautifully ahead of Verstappen without pushing too much. It was win number 65 for the Brit in F1. A dominant weekend sees him back in the lead of the World Championship in a topsy-turvy battle against Sebastian Vettel. 

When will Valtteri Bottas get some luck? This was another event where he was extremely unlucky. The Finn was already on the back foot because of a water leak in FP2 – but recovered superbly to end up on the front row. Yet, his race was ruined almost instantly. After making a slightly slower start than Vettel, he had got the place back by the entry turn one. The Finn gave Vettel room but he got tagged by the German, spun and picked up a puncture. Considering he had quite a bit of floor damage, the Finnish driver did well to recover to 7th - but his championship hopes took a severe hit. 


Kimi Raikkonen (3rd); Sebastian Vettel (5th) 

A strong result for Kimi Raikkonen in the end. The 2007 World Champion looked quick throughout practice and the first two parts of qualifying – but once again he struggled in Q3. A number of errors left him down in 6th on the grid and under pressure for the race itself. Nonetheless, he produced the goods on race day. He was unlucky at the start when avoiding the incidents – he was on the outside for turn two and that was not the place to be. Magnussen, Leclerc and Sainz all jumped him. He would clear all of them and did a mega job to do 34 laps on the ultrasofts. He rejoined in 5th and overtook stablemate Vettel and Ricciardo late in the Grand Prix to take a deserved and important podium. 

Not for the first time in the last couple of seasons, Sebastian Vettel got involved in a costly collision with a rival. All weekend his Ferrari lacked the raw pace to beat Mercedes but he would have been satisfied to be best of the rest. The German made a brilliant start but got boxed in by the Mercedes'. Unfortunately for him, he clipped Bottas at turn one and damaged his front wing. He was awarded a 5-second penalty for the collision and he can have no complaints. On the restart after the SC, he charged through the field on the soft tyre and was a net P3 at one point – but Ricciardo and Raikkonen both got him on much fresher rubber in the second half of the race. Still, an important 10 points despite the error at the start. 

Red Bull 

Max Verstappen (2nd); Daniel Ricciardo (4th) 

At last, Max Verstappen is showing us the talent he has without getting himself into trouble. For the second straight weekend, the young Dutchman had a clear pace advantage over stablemate Ricciardo in qualifying. He did a good job to avoid the Bottas-Vettel incident and ran 2nd for pretty much the whole race from there. The only concerning moment for the Dutchman was when there were some worries about vibrations with his tyres after pitting. Another clean weekend and a second consecutive podium following a disastrous start to the year.  

Daniel Ricciardo's solid and consistent year continued at Paul Ricard. Like Montreal, he couldn't quite match Verstappen through qualifying and ended up 0.190s behind the Dutchman in 5th. He gained a place at the start thanks to the incident – but lost out to Sainz because he went a little too deep into turn one compared to the Spaniard. He quickly dispatched of the Spaniard and closed in on Verstappen towards the end of the opening stint. Yet, things would then go wrong. He lost both the upper flaps on both sides of his front wing and that left him totally exposed to Raikkonen and the Finn breezed by. Six top 5 finishes from the six races he's finished shows how consistently quick the Aussie has been in 2018 so far.  

Force India 

Esteban Ocon (DNF); Sergio Perez (DNF) 

For the first time in his F1 career, Esteban Ocon drove in a home Grand Prix. Sadly, for him and his fans, it lasted only a matter of moments. The Frenchman was clearly the quickest of the two Force Indias throughout the weekend and beat Perez by almost 4 tenths. In the race, he was on the end of a double French assault. Grosjean squeezed him at the start and he picked up damage and likely would have ended his race – but Gasly made sure of it by clattering into the back of him at T3. A heartbreakingly short home race for Ocon.  

Since his podium in Baku, it's been a tough run for Sergio Perez. The Mexican was comfortably outpaced by team-mate Ocon during qualifying as Checo finished P13. He took advantage of a crazy opening lap to climb into the points paying positions. Perez got swallowed up by Grosjean, Vettel and Hulkenberg to end up down 12th as the lack of pace in the car was exposed. An engine issue forced him to box on lap 28 and it was an early end to the day for both team and driver. 


Sergey Sirotkin (15th); Lance Stroll (DNF) 

As per usual in 2018, the only man Sergey Sirotkin could race with was his stablemate. The Russian narrowly beat Stroll in qualifying by less a tenth of a second. The first lap chaos meant Sirotkin climbed to P15. After Vettel and Bottas overtook him, it became a long race battle with Stroll. Both men pitted at the end of lap one and he was all over Stroll before the Canadian's tyre failure in the closing stages. He was the last of the 15 drivers who got to the chequered flag as a tough season continues in a car that is now easily the slowest. 

Lance Stroll's horrible season continued at the French Grand Prix. He qualified last of the 20 runners in Q1 – but got the jump on his stablemate at the start. Stroll was 14th on the restart but quickly dropped down the pecking order and ended up in a fight with Sirotkin for the rest of the Grand Prix. A huge tyre failure five laps from the end meant another retirement this year for the Canadian. 


Carlos Sainz (8th); Nico Hulkenberg (9th) 

This was surely Carlos Sainz's strongest weekend since his move to Renault. An excellent qualifying performance put him 7th on the grid and the leader of a very tight midfield battle. He brilliantly took advantage of the first lap collision to leap up to P3 before the safety car deployment. He got overtaken by Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Vettel in much faster cars to fall to 6th. The Spaniard seemed set for P6 until a late MGU-K failure left him exposed to Magnussen and Bottas – but he held on for four points and deservedly ahead of team-mate Hulkenberg. 

Unusually for Nico Hulkenberg, this was very much a weekend where he was put completely in the shade by his stablemate. He struggled to find a good balance in his car and got knocked out in Q2; he missed Q3 by 0.060s. A long first stint on the soft tyres plus the incidents at the beginning left him as high as 6th before his stop. He came out in P10 and gained a place when Vandoorne pitted. Two points following a tough meeting. 

Toro Rosso 

Brendon Hartley (14th); Pierre Gasly (DNF) 

A much-needed change of fortune didn't happen for Brendon Hartley at Paul Ricard. An engine issue in FP2 led to grid penalties and put him at the back of the grid for the race. Qualifying proved to be a struggle again, 0.6s slower than Gasly. The Kiwi's opening stint lasted a mammoth 38 laps on the ultrasoft tyre as Toro Rosso were hoping for some rain. With the rain never arriving, it meant Hartley had no choice of points following that long run on the ultrasofts. He was 14th out of the 15 drivers who finished the race.  

Like Esteban Ocon, there was a very early end to Pierre Gasly's first race in his home country. Again, Gasly easily beat stablemate Hartley in qualifying and got his Toro Rosso in Q2. After avoiding the carnage at T1, he braked too deep and too hard down at turn three and ploughed into Ocon – both men were out on the spot. He escaped with a reprimand and will hope to have a much longer race in Austria this weekend.  


Kevin Magnussen (6th); Romain Grosjean (11th) 

2018 has been good to Kevin Magnussen and that continued in France. Throughout practice, he seemed a bit off the pace compared to Grosjean – but in Q1 and Q2 he was less a tenth behind the Frenchman in both sessions. Grosjean's crash left him P9 on the grid after a messy Q3 which involved confusion with Raikkonen. He was forced to cut turn one and two to avoid the collision at the start and made his way to P5. Ultimately, the much quicker Ferraris overtook him and he looked to heading for P7 – but Carlos Sainz's late MGU-K failure gifted him P6. Another fantastic performance by the Dane. 

Romain Grosjean's nightmare year shows no signs of stopping in front of his home crowd. He looked tremendously quick in free practice and the first two segments of qualifying – but then binned it on his opening run in Q3. He started 10th but a naughty squeeze on Esteban Ocon earned him a 5-second penalty; it was eerily similar to his dangerous driving at the start of multiple races in 2012. He ran 8th in the opening stages but lacked the pace compared to Magnussen and got passed by Vettel and Hulkenberg and Bottas. Like Raikkonen, he went 34 laps on the ultrasoft, but he gained nothing from it and came home P11. No points on the board eight rounds in. 


Stoffel Vandoorne (12th); Fernando Alonso (DNF) 

2018 is becoming a year to forget for Stoffel Vandoorne and his team. He trails 0-8 in qualifying against his two-time world champion team-mate as both men were out in Q1. Like a number of drivers, his first stint was very long. He went 40 laps on the supersofts as you would think McLaren were hoping for rain. He briefly ran 8th before he stopped. He rejoined P13 and on far fresher tyres than Alonso, he overtook the Spaniard for P12. That's where the Belgian would finish. 

It was an almighty return to reality for Fernando Alonso at the French Grand Prix. Just a week on from his brilliant Le victory at Le Mans with Toyota, he had a shocking weekend in France. Knocked out in Q1 was embarrassing for the Spaniard as the McLaren was miles off the pace at Paul Ricard; albeit he was ahead of Vandoorne again. Following the SC restart, he spun while battling Vettel and never had any real chance to fight for points as his car was very uncompetitive and on very worn tyres vs drivers who stopped a lot later in the Grand Prix. A broken rear suspension summed up a terrible event for driver and team.  


Charles Leclerc (10th); Marcus Ericsson (13th) 

Across the border from his native Monaco, Charles Leclerc put in yet another special performance at the French GP. He dragged his Sauber into Q3; despite struggling with the car massively on Friday. P8 on the grid left him just two places behind the works Ferrari of Raikkonen. It was the fifth straight qualifying session where he made it out of Q1. The chaotic start saw him gain two spots and found himself 6th. The superior speed of the Ferraris, Bottas and Hulkenberg eventually told as all of them got ahead. Still, he got a point in a car that doesn't belong in the places where he's putting it. The Ferrari seat could well be calling for next year. 

Marcus Ericsson's rough spell carried on at Paul Ricard. A big crash in FP1 left him on the back foot and he missed FP2 due to sizeable damage to his car. Considering that, he did well to make Q2 but went no further than that. Like Vandoorne, he went long in the opening stint on the supersofts but it didn't really work for him either. He made light work of the Williams' after rejoining behind them. Alonso's late issues meant a 13th place finish for the Swede. However, he finished 50 seconds behind Leclerc. He needs to find some extra speed very quickly. 

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