French Grand Prix 2021 Predictions: Can Lewis Hamilton Take the Lead Back from Max Verstappen?

Published 06/12/2021, 8:20 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain – May 9, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race REUTERS/Albert Gea


F1 is all set to return to Le Castellet next weekend for the much-awaited French Grand Prix. Of course, 2018 and 2019 suggested that the Paul Ricard circuit has the least to offer in terms of overtaking opportunities. But there are a lot more factors to consider this time around including the two big heads, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

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Their rivalry has been boiling up with each passing weekend, and here we are at the 7th round of the 2021 F1 season, with just 4 points separating the title contenders. Take a look at the factors that could add spice to the approaching race weekend.

Close fight between the Mid-field F1 teams

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Paul Ricard is a high-downforce circuit, sporting an equal mix of high-speed and low-speed corners. Hence, the F1 teams could opt for a split strategy with the rear wings, sending one driver out with a lighter rear wing and the other with a much heavier rear wing.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after qualifying in pole position Pool via REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Hence, this is going to play a crucial role in both qualifying and race as far as pace is concerned. Ferrari could yet again push for an aggressive setup that could produce a strong one-lap pace, potentially placing Charles Leclerc with a chance to secure his 3rd consecutive F1 pole.

And, McLaren and AlphaTauri, too, could follow the footsteps of the Maranello outfit, leaving Aston Martin and Alpine with an effective race pace. Hence, the mid-field battle could be quite interesting to watch over the weekend.

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Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen

This is definitely one of the biggest talking points ahead of the race weekend at Le Castellet. Hamilton has enjoyed an incredible run since France’s return to the racing calendar. The Briton has led the way over both the outings in 2018 and 2019.

However, it is not going to be easy for Hamilton to make it three in a row, with Verstappen constantly existing as a threat. The Dutchman has been quite fast in qualifying sessions.

Formula One F1 – Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain – May 9, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium winning the race with second placed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron

Hence, with track position proving to be highly crucial at Paul Ricard, Red Bull will hope to slot Verstappen on the front row for the race. If that’s ultimately the case, will the duo manage to put on a show in France, showcasing some astonishing wheel-to-wheel actions?

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Rapid track evolvement highly likely?

The circuit of Paul Ricard went through a makeover earlier this season, as more than 2/3 of the circuit had been relaid. Hence, the track is likely to evolve constantly throughout the weekend, which means the qualifying session will be a treat to watch for the fans.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is congratulated by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Who knows? One of the mid-field teams could pull off a heist and secure an unexpected position at the top, mixing up the entire starting grid.

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What’s more, considering the smoothness of the circuit, there is a heavy chance that we could witness a handful of spins and crashes over the weekend. So, will track evolvement add fuel to an already unpredictable weekend at Le Castellet? Only time will tell.

Watch Story: Biggest Crashes From 2020 Featuring Leclerc, Vettel & Grosjean

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Rohit Kumar

948 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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