When performing a search for the question what the Formula One community could learn from the 2019 FIA Formula One French Grand Prix, the answer could be easily found. Mercedes continued their dominant form by clinching the eighth victory in Round Eight of the season.
Last-gasp move – Sebastian Vettel might have had a relatively muted weekend in France but the four-time champion’s fastest laps, scored on the final lap of the race after a late switch to soft tyres, was the 37th of his career and his first since last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With his fastest race lap of 1m32.740, the German broke the previous lap record of Valtteri Bottas.
Negative – Some of the teams left France with a bitter taste. Toro Rosso, Haas Ferrari and Racing Point were all struggling for pace all through the race weekend and failed to add to their point tally at the eighth round of the season. Despite showing a slight improvement in the European rounds, Williams returned to its state of being in no-man’s-land in Le Castellet. The faster of their two drivers, George Russell was over a second off the 18th fastest Lance Stroll’ time while Robert Kubica was a further half a second adrift.
The fast-evolving track – The Paul Ricard track was evolving rapidly already during Saturday’s qualifying and the grip continued to increase significantly in the race. As an evidence, nineteen of the twenty drivers set their best lap times in the late stage of the race, after Lap 40 with the only exception of Max Verstappen.
The point-scorer - Lewis Hamilton’s win on Sunday marked his 200th points finish from 237 races. The Briton scored points in 84,4 per cent of the races he started.
One-two finishes - Valtteri Bottas’ second place in France not only handed Mercedes its sixth one-two finish of the season but also its 50th in F1. The Anglo-German outfit started the season in perfect fashion with five one-two finishes in a row. The Monaco Grand Prix brought this run of success to an end when Sebastian Vettel finished second behind Lewis Hamilton and in front of Valtteri Bottas.
Just outside the podium - In Sunday’s French Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen scored his fifth fourth place this season. The Dutchman has a fifth place from the Canadian Grand Prix and two third-place finishes from the Australian and Spanish Grand Prix.
Solo retirement – Sunday’s race in Le Castellet saw only one driver retire from the happenings. It was Romain Grosjean who was instructed by his team on Lap 44 to dive into the pits and retire from his home race.
Six again! – Six different outfits managed to collect points on Sunday. Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren finished the race with both their cars in the top ten while Alfa Romeo and Renault represented themselves with one car in the point-scoring Top 10.
Race scrutineering – As always, the governing body completed a series of checks following Sunday’s race. The steering wheel of all classified cars has been checked, fifteen cars were weighed. The dimensions of aerodynamic parts of car numbers 27 and 7 were thoroughly measured. The parameters of the Power Unit of car numbers 55, 4 and 7 were checked including the MGU-K speed, the MGU-K torque, the MGU-K power limits and the ES power model.
Third – Of the eight rounds, it was the third time that the pole-sitter could convert his starting position into a race win. Valtteri Bottas was the first this season who won a race starting from the pole position. Lewis Hamilton then converted his leading position into a victory during the Monaco and French Grand Prix. In fact, Sebastian Vettel would have been the only other driver to achieve the same in Montreal had he not been denied the victory due to a post-race time penalty.
Pointless – Only three drivers have failed to score any points so far this season. The two Williams drivers Robert Kubica and George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi are yet to score points this year.
Widening gap – With their sixth one-two finish of the season, Mercedes managed to increase their advantage in the Constructors’ Championship. The Anglo-German outfit is now 140 points clear of the second-placed Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton enjoys a gap of 36 points in front of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas while Sebastian Vettel is already 76 points behind after eight races.