The 2019 French Grand Prix is about to undergo shortly. Round 8 of the current season takes us to the picturesque French countryside, in the heart of Cote D’Azur to a racing venue that’s etched in F1 history.
Long before modern greats like Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen even made their debut, Circuit Paul Ricard produced epic battles in those halcyon days between the likes of Hunt and Lauda, Senna and Prost, Schumacher and Hakkinen.
Having returned to the roster only in 2018, but not before spending over a decade in the wilderness, the race produced another dominant Lewis Hamilton show last year, with the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari playing catch up.
So will that narrative- now a standard byline of the current season- change in 2019? And if so, then who will be on top and who’ll improve in the 53-lap contest? Let’s wriggle our minds and conjure 5 predictions for the 2019 French Grand Prix:
Vettel keeps Hamilton at bay as Ferrari win big
The French Grand Prix may just provide us all with the moment we’ve been so desperately waiting for. The mid-segment of the 53-lap contest shall be the moment where Vettel shall make a decisive move over his arch-rival, rather make that antithesis of the 2019 season, Lewis Hamilton.
While Vettel will be the first to pit among the two legendary drivers, Hamilton, who’ll claim the lead of the contest shall see the Ferrari undercut working brilliantly in the German’s favor, who, by virtue of making the most of his fresh rubber shall pass the Briton.
Once back in the lead, Vettel will hold on strongly to the track position and will fend off Hamilton in a way he did so at the contests at Silverstone or Spa in 2018. Thus, Ferrari will win their first Grand Prix of the year.
Leclerc makes another podium
Charming young gun at Ferrari, Charles Leclerc shall begin a strong race weekend despite missing out on pole with quite some margin. But he shall make the best of his start- inside the top five- by making maximum use of his tyre compounds and what might eventually be a classic one-stop by Ferrari to finish on the podium.
In so doing, he’ll pass the fantastic talents of Verstappen and Bottas, to claim his third career podium.
Max causes skirmish
He’s not called ‘Mad Max’ for anything. To be fair to the famous Dutch driver, not since Ayrton Senna has Formula 1 seen another maverick who seems willing to risk everything on a race track, even if that means the relative safety of the others.
While Verstappen, who stood on the podium last year– given his fighting second- shall miss the pole by quite some margin on Saturday, he shall return to his exciting best on race day.
Early on, he’ll attempt a desperate move, being sandwiched between the Ferraris and the Mercedes, that’ll be parked in the front row, in a bid to salvage a strong position in the opening few minutes.
The pecking order for Sunday’s start may just read Vettel leading from Hamilton leading from Max, from Leclerc and finally, Bottas.
But in so doing, Verstappen will do nothing more than running wide into the grass immediately after the legendary Mistral straight, thus upsetting the rhythm of the race and enforcing the deployment of the safety car.
Bottas sets the fastest lap
Valtteri Bottas, currently seeming slightly dormant, vis-a-vis the electrifying pace he demonstrated early on in the season, a time wherein he picked up 2 important wins, shall witness a marked improvement this weekend.
After losing out to his teammate in the past few races, the Finnish driver, who’ll miss out on the podium shall succeed in setting the fastest lap of the Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.
A track that tests the car’s potential at every given corner of the circuit, checkered with 15 corners. In so doing, the talented Finn shall take his overall tally to 13 fastest laps and may even set the track record at the famous French racing venue.
Haas return to their best
The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix wasn’t such a fabulous race for the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Described rather candidly by the Dane as the “most regrettable drive of his whole career”, the former McLaren driver will be seen returning to his very best at France. His teammate, in the meanwhile, shall also demonstrate some grit in what shall be his home Grand Prix.
While Magnussen, currently running in ninth with only 14 points will target and achieve somewhere between a P7 or P8 finish, Romain Grosjean will battle the likes of Toro Rosso and McLaren to garner a fighting ninth.