F1: 2019 French Grand Prix Preview
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes prepares to drive on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Canada (Photo by Mark Thompson,Getty Images)

F1: 2019 French Grand Prix Preview

Ahead of the eighth round of the 2019 Formula 1 season, Lewis Hamilton targets back to back French Grand Prix victories since the track returned to the F1 calendar last year.

Matthew Watkinson

The Brit is sat comfortably at the top of the championship standings, with a 29-point advantage over his closest rival and teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The silver arrows controversially snatched victory from Sebastian Vettel in Canada last time out to continue their 100% win rate this season. As it stands Ferrari have submitted a ‘right of review’ to challenge the decision which penalised the German and cost the team their first win of the season.

Championship leaders, Mercedes, are braced for a tough battle at the front, though Ferrari have already expressed doubts of competing for the victory on Sunday.

Ahead of this weekend Honda have introduced a more powerful engine for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso, but the Japanese manufacturer are still expecting to be behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

The power increase comes at a cost for Russian driver Daniil Kvyat who will receive a 10-place grid penalty after already using three engines this season. His teammate Alex Albon will run the previous specification for now and is also at the engine limit for 2019.

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The track

The Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet held its first Formula 1 race since 1990 last season after a decade away from the sport.

Overtaking is expected in numbers after last year proved there are opportunities aplenty throughout the 5.842km track. There are two DRS zones to assist with overtaking, one after Turn 7 on the Mistral straight, and the second after Turn 15 on the start-finish straight.

The track boasts a range of high, medium and low-speed corners which test the cars to their limits. Speeds of 290km/h can be reached at the high-speed right-hander at Signes, before the Beausset bend.

The current race lap record for the current layout of the track, with the Mistral chicane, is 1:34.225 by Bottas in the Mercedes in 2018.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has already lowered Ferrari expectations after saying the track doesn’t suit their car, after struggles last year.

Weather conditions are expected to be dry throughout the weekend, with moderate wind. Conditions should be routine for qualifying on Saturday and race day on Sunday.

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What happened last year?

In a hectic opening lap in 2018, first corner carnage involving Vettel and Bottas was the main highlight on the relaunch of the French Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton eased to a comfortable victory after the threat of his two main rivals were eradicated on the opening corner, allowing the Brit to soar to the top of the championship, in a lead that had changed hands multiple times earlier in the 2018 season.

Vettel received the blame for the incident with the Finn and collected a five-second penalty, but controversially finished ahead of Bottas in fifth position.

Max Verstappen also escaped the mayhem on lap one to get back-to-back podiums, a sign of the growing consistency that the Dutchman has developed so well in recent times.

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When can I watch it?


Free practice 1: 10:00 – 11:30

Free practice 2: 14:00 – 15:30


Free practice 3: 11:00 – 12:00

Qualifying: 14:00 – 15:00


Race: 14:10

All times BST.