The French GP returns to the F1 calendar after its cancellation last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Circuit Paul Ricard hosting the seventh round of the 2021 season. But as bookmakers, this is the right time to. You can visit https://smartbettingguide.com/ for more chances and insights on the latest F1 betting.
Only four points separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ standings after both drivers failed to score in Azerbaijan. The points allowed Sergio Perez to claim his first win for Red Bull ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Paul Ricard has been a great circuit for Mercedes over the years as it looks set to retaliate after two disappointing races in Monaco and Baku. Ferrari is expected to struggle despite successive pole positions. At the same time, Alpine hopes for a strong result at home, especially as Esteban Ocon has just signed a new three-year contract extension.
Sums up the highlights from Friday’s French GP F1 practice at Circuit Paul Ricard, where Mercedes and Red Bull alternately led the session.
Absent from the 2020 Formula 1 calendar, the French F1 Grand Prix is back this weekend at the less famous Paul Ricard Circuit for most fans.
From Friday’s training session, Mercedes returned to their best form after slumping Monaco and Azerbaijan with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton consistently in the top three. Apart from Mercedes’ revival, there are other exciting things to note from Friday’s two practise sessions at Circuit Paul Ricard. For more details, see the discussion from Crash.net below.
Mercedes Gets Up, Bottas Comes To The Surface
After a few miserable weekends in Monaco and Baku, Mercedes seems to be back in pursuit of victory at a conventional circuit that is more suited to a W12 car. After all, Mercedes has dominated both Paul Ricard events since returning to the F1 calendar in 2018.
Valtteri Bottas started the team weekend on a positive note on Friday by topping the opening practice session of teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set the pace in the afternoon. The current F1 world championship leader outscored Bottas by just 0.008 seconds in FP2, but Bottas is on medium tires, compared to Verstappen on soft tires.
Bottas faces an uncertain future amid reports that he could be replaced by George Russell at Mercedes next year, but at least on Friday, he provided the perfect response to a tough start to the season. Bottas credits his improved form with the fact that he can “trust” his car again, even if he’s unsure whether his greater comfort with his Mercedes has been affected by the chassis swap with Hamilton. Instead, Hamilton looked to be struggling to keep up with Bottas all day and ended FP2 more than two tenths behind his teammate.
Despite suggesting he felt something fundamentally wrong with his car, Hamilton played down the chassis swap, reporting that his car felt no different from his previous race in Baku.
Varied performance between teams on soft tires made Friday’s practice very interesting, but only Mercedes struggled to maximize the soft tire compound during the FP2 qualifying simulation.
Bottas could not improve his lap time on soft tires, while Hamilton was only 0.1 seconds faster. Warming up tires has proven to be Mercedes’ work again this season, but it doesn’t look like much of a problem this weekend due to the many medium and high-speed corners at Paul Ricard.
The others had their best soft times, including Verstappen being the fastest. Pirelli’s data shows that soft tires are about 0.6 seconds faster than medium tires, suggesting that Mercedes still has more potential as long as the tire temperature gets into the optimal working range.
“It’s a difficult weekend. “I don’t know if it’s the track surface or the temperature or the tires with high air pressure, they increase the pressure higher than before – one of the highest – it’s hard to say. I think it’s possible for everyone,” Hamilton explained.
“We all skated, and it was a struggle out there for everyone. They all feel pretty bad, but I think the hard one is probably feeling better because it seems like a pretty challenging task with the temperatures here.
“So the softer the compound used, the worse the taste. I imagine the Hard will be the most impatient for most people to wear, but I’m not sure which tires are the fastest.”
Alpine animates the best of the rest.
Alpine caught the eye on Friday afternoon when two-time world champion Fernando Alonso impressed with a decent time to P4 and within half a second of Verstappen’s benchmark time. Esteban Ocon, who had just confirmed his future with the France squad ahead of his home race, ended an exciting day by finishing sixth, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc separating the Alpine pair. Ferrari scored back-to-back poles in Monaco and Baku but braced for a slump in France.
If Friday’s run is anything to go by, it looks like the battle to be the best of the rest behind Red Bull and Mercedes will end in fierce competition between Ferrari, Alpine, McLaren and AlphaTauri.
The Track Barrier Presents A Dilemma For The Team
The installation of a physical track boundary at Turn 2 was the talk of the town on Friday after Bottas and Verstappen damaged the front wing of their car by crashing into the curb in practice.
Bottas was the first to travel off track at Turn 2 early in FP1 when he made a wild ride over the curb and suffered damage to his front wing and floor, prompting Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows to complain to race control. After Verstappen lost part of his forewing over the pavement in FP2, Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley joined calls to clear the pavement to avoid damaging the car, suggesting using an electronic timing loop for track limit provisions instead.
Race director Michael Masi responded by saying he would look into the matter before Saturday’s race got underway. However, he stressed the team had been calling for physical track limits of late. Talking about his break, Bottas added: “It’s up to us, as drivers, if you push yourself too much, you go there, but it’s punishing.
“I think I broke a few pieces on the floor, and I don’t think I was the only one. It’s pretty harsh. For sure, it’s borderline hard, we can’t go any further, so it might be a point of discussion. We’ll see.”
Another Facts & Updates
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali described the return of fans at the French GP as a “Game Changer” for the world championship. Around 15,000 fans flocked to Circuit Paul Ricard over the weekend. And crowds are expected to return in even greater numbers for this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring before total capacity is allowed the following week for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, several Formula 1 races have been attended by spectators with minimal capacity. However, things could change after the F1 French GP last week. Around 15,000 fans flocked to Circuit Paul Ricard over the weekend. Crowds are expected to return in even greater numbers for this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring before total capacity is allowed the following week for the Austrian Grand Prix.
It is also reported that Silverstone Circuit has been given the green light to bring 140,000 spectators to next month’s British Grand Prix after being added to the UK government’s list of pilot events.
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