Canadian Grand Prix: The French connection

2019-06-19 06:01

WITH the Canadian Grand Prix and all its accoutrements consigned to the history books, Formula 1 turns the page to the eighth round of the season and France’s Paul Ricard circuit.

Renault progress

The season so far for the French works team has been well below par. Team principal Cyril Abiteboul and others in charge of the F1 project are likely to admit that the team has not achieved its projections, so far, in 2019.

The big money signing of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull would have been a morale boosting shot in the arm for most at Renault. The highly rated Australian has won several Grands Prix and is expected to excel no matter the car he drives. But there have, expectedly, been some teething issues in joining a completely new environment. So much so that, apart from a standout Canadian Grand Prix weekend, Ricciardo has been somewhat anonymous in 2019.

Nevertheless, Renault and Abiteboul appear to be committed to Formula 1 and making their way back to the front of the sport. A repeat performance of sixth and seventh this weekend for Renault would go down well on home soil.

Pierre Gasly

As Ricciardo’s replacement at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly hasn’t had any easy time of it. The Frenchman has struggled to find his feet at the team and has been emphatically outperformed by teammate Max Verstappen. Yes, Verstappen, with his heaps of talent, isn’t your average teammate, but Gasly is in a top-flight team where he is expected to turn in performances befitting the equipment at his disposal.

There is every chance that Gasly could come good in the Red Bull, but for his sake it has to be sooner rather than later. Rumours linking Reanult’s Nico Hulkenberg to the Red Bull seat are already making the rounds and given Gasly’s run of results this season, it isn’t unfathomable to imagine Hulkenberg in the Red Bull cockpit.

Romain Grosjean

Although he was born in Switzerland, Romain Grosjean is very much a Frenchman and will be keen to do well in his home race. It hasn’t been an easy season for Grosjean, as Haas F1 has struggled to solve their tyre issues on race day.

So far, Grosjean has contributed only two points to the team’s tally of 16 points in 2019.

Once a teammate to Fernando Alonso at Renault, Grosjean’s career has been somewhat of an anomaly. As a bonafide winner in the GP2 series, he came into F1 with a good reputation. His speed though never materialised. His second go at F1 at Lotus, alongside Kimi Raikkonen, finally began to reveal his talents. A slew of podium finishes in 2013 upped his stock in F1 but it was followed by a miserable two years in which Lotus produced an equally miserable car.

Still, he secured a hard-earned podium at Spa in 2015 but his career was blotted by several outrageous first-lap crashes.

His move to Haas F1 came on the eve of Renault’s announcement that they would return to F1. Nevertheless, he seemed to slot into the newly formed American team with ease.

But despite again slowing flashes of real talent and speed, he simply hasn’t been consistent enough to catch the eye of any of the top teams.

At the age of 33 Grosjean could be one of the unfilled talents in F1.

Paul Ricard

The Paul Ricard circuit’s 15-turn layout comprises a variance of corners that dictate a compromise on set-up. The first sector of the lap consists of lower speed corners, where traction and good braking performance is most rewarded.

Quicker corners characterise the middle sector of the circuit, while the medium-downforce track also features three long straights that demand a lot from the power units.

The higher speed sections of the track will mean that lateral grip is increased and the tyres are put under more stress. It might place enough strain and wear on the tyres to open up some intriguing strategies for Sunday’s race.


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