Things to know before the French Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

The qualifying session for the 2019 Formula One French Grand Prix hardly provided excitement and surprises after Mercedes secured another front row lock-out. Lewis Hamilton secured his 86th pole position in front of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

In today’s race, reigning world champion team Mercedes goes in search of an eighth consecutive victory since the start of the season to further extend its leads over its rivals. The Silver Arrows currently have 295 points, 123 clear of Ferrari, with Red Bull Racing third on 124 points. Last year’s French Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton has a significant 29-point advantage over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while Sebastian Vettel, with 100 points to his credit, now lies 62 points adrift of Hamilton. With his latest pole position, he has every chance to extend his already daunting lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

Track

5.842km – The Circuit Paul Ricard track has a length of 5.842km. Drivers will need to cover a total of 53 laps to complete the full race distance of 309.626km.

Slowly! – The pitlane speed limit is 60km/h in all sessions of the race weekend. Originally, it would have been 80km/h, but the governing body decided before the start of the weekend to decrease the maximum permitted speed in the pitlane because of its tight nature and twisty pit entry.

No offset – The start and finish line is identical on the Circuit Paul Ricard.

Bottas – Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest race lap with a lap time of 1m34.225 in last year’s race. However, the fastest ever lap completed on the Circuit Paul Ricard is Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap of 1m28.319 which the Briton dominated yesterday’s qualifying session with.

Changes - The Pit Exit has been reconfigured, widened and extended towards Turn 1. The track has been resurfaced in sections all around the track, principally at Turn 1, from Turn 3 to Turn 7, in sections from just after Turn 8 to just after Turn 11, in Turn 12 and from Turn 14 through to Turn 15.

DRS - There will be two DRS zones at Paul Ricard. The first zone has a detection point 75m before Turn 7 and an activation point 170m after Turn 7. The second zone has a detection point at Turn 14 and activation 115m after Turn 15.

History

60th – Today’s race will be the 60th running of the Formula One French Grand Prix. The race made its debut in the inaugural year of the Formula One World Championship and only missed the calendar in 1955 until 2008.

Seven – The French Grand Prix has been held at seven different locations. Reims, Rouen, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Paul Ricard and Magny-Cours have staged multiple races while the iconic venue of Le Mans has organized a single event in 1967.

Magny-Cours – This venue has hosted most French Grands Prix with 18 races. Paul Ricard is second on this list with 15 appearances on the calendar. Reims staged 11 races, Dijon held 5 Grands Prix, the Le Mans Bugatti circuit played host to one single event, Rouen was visited by the F1 field on five occasions while Clermont-Ferrand held 4 races.

1906 - Grand Prix motor racing has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as early as 1894. Le Mans hosted the first-ever motor race, way back in 1906, the first international event ever to be labelled a grand prix. Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz, driving a Renault, won the inaugural event, completing more than 12 hours behind the wheel, and setting a top speed of 96mph.

The oldest! - The French Grand Prix, which returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018 after a 10-year absence, is the oldest grand prix in the world.

The Italians – Ferrari is the most successful constructor in history of the French Grand Prix with seventeen wins followed by Williams with eight victories and Lotus with seven triumphs.

The German – Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in France. The German won on eight occasions while his closest rival Alain Prost crossed the finish line first six times.

1005th - The 2019 Formula 1 Grand Prix de France will be the 1005th Formula 1 Grand Prix in history.

Fifth most visited - With 59 contests since 1950, the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France is among the oldest of the World Championships and logically among the most raced, just behind Great Britain (69), Italy (68), Monaco (65) and Belgium (62).

Double celebrations - Kimi Raikonnen will celebrate his 300th Grand while McLaren will complete its 850th Grand Prix at the 2019 Grand Prix de France.

Champions - The 33 drivers crowned world champions since 1950 have all competed in at least one Grand Prix de France in their career. Fourteen of them have never won.

The rookies - The Circuit Paul Ricard will be unfamiliar to just one of this year’s full-season rookies – Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi. Williams’ George Russell, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon all competed here in last year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship.

The records – Juan Manuel Fangio holds the record for most pole position with 5. Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher both stood on the podium eleven times. While Michael Schumacher holds the record for most wins with eight triumphs, Alain Prost collected the most consecutive victories with three wins.

The closest - One second separated Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling at the chequered flag at Reims-Gueux in 1954, a feat repeated by Giancarlo Baghetti and Dan Gurney at the same track in 1961.