The 2022 Formula 1 World Championship season arrives in France for the 12th race of the campaign. Ferrari is coming off consecutive wins at Britain and Austria, but the team still didn’t maximise the potential on both weekends.
Hamilton’s 300th F1 Grand Prix
The race will be historical, as Sir Lewis Hamilton will compete in the 300th Grand Prix of his legendary career. The British driver will become the sixth driver to enter 300 Grands Prix when FP2 starts, as Dutchman Nyck De Vries will replace him during the weekend’s first practice session.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull still lead the World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ championships by solid margins (38 and 56 points, respectively). However, the team is trying to regain form after two races without a win, which hasn’t been common in 2022 (before Carlos Sainz’s win at Silverstone for Ferrari, Red Bull was on a six-race winning streak).
In France, the whole paddock might be expecting some changes, as the flexi-floor saga will reach the point in which the team that were exceeding the established 2mm tolerance for floor flexibility.
If it hinders the Top 2 teams, Red Bull and Ferrari, we could see some mixed scenarios at the front of the grid, but that still might be unlikely.
Verstappen (208 points) is leading the WDC ahead of Charles Leclerc (170), who won the most recent race at Austria. Sergio Pérez (151) remains third for Red Bull, although he didn’t score in the most recent event.
Carlos Sainz is fourth for Ferrari with 133 points but missed out on a likely second-place in Austria after the engine on his F1-75 exploded.
The Mercedes pair of George Russell (128 points) and Sir Lewis Hamilton (109) sits fifth and sixth in the WDC, but the German team has been competing a lot better in recent outings, with a more stable car that still needs lots of performance.
How does the midfield arrive at the 2022 French GP?
McLaren (Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo) is fourth in the World Constructors’ Championship with 81 points. The team is coming off a weekend where both cars failed to score points at Montreal. However, Alpine (Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso) has matched McLaren’s 81 points in the WCC and its car is increasingly looking like the fourth-best machine on the field.
Alfa Romeo (Valtteri Bottas y Guanyu Zhou) hasn’t scored points in the last two races, but remains sixth in the WCC with 51 points.
Haas (Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher) is coming off two fantastic weekends at Britain and Austria, scoring twice with both cars and even scoring on Austria’s Sprint event on Saturday. The American team is now seventh in the WCC with 34 points.
AlphaTauri (Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda) has not scored points in the last three races and is eighth in the WCC with 27 points.
Aston Martin (16 points with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll) and Williams (3 points – Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi) round out the World Constructors’ Championship positions.
2022 French GP Facts & Figures
The French Grand Prix has been held 89 times since 1906 and there have been 61 editions of the event that were part of the Formula 1 World Championship, starting in 1950 and the most recent being celebrated in 2021.
Seven circuits (Reims, Rouen-les-Essarts, Le Mans, Clermont-Ferrand, Paul Ricard, Dijon-Prenois, and Magny-Cours) have hosted the French Grand Prix in Formula 1.
Magny-Cours hosted the French Grand Prix 18 times, with Paul Ricard set to equal that mark on Sunday, with its 18th GP.
The French Grand Prix was part of the World Championship since its first campaign in 1950 and went consecutively until 2008. In that span, the only race that wasn’t held was the 1955 edition due to the Le Mans disaster, in which more than 80 spectators died and French driver Pierre Levegh also lost his life.
Financial issues saw the event out of the 2009 calendar after 18 consecutive races at Magny-Cours.
It returned to Formula 1 in 2018, with Paul Ricard hosting the last three events (the 2020 edition was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
Among drivers, Michael Schumacher is the most successful at France, winning the event eight times in his career (twice with Benetton and six with Ferrari). The German also sealed his fifth World Championship in France in 2002, matching the Formula 1 all-time record at the time (held by Juan Manuel Fangio since 1957).
Alain Prost ranks second on the list behind Schumacher, as the Frenchman won six times in his home Grand Prix, including his first-ever win in 1981 with Renault. He won twice with Renault, twice with McLaren and once with Ferrari and Williams each.
Juan Manuel Fangio and Nigel Mansell won four times in France as well, and Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart won three times each.
One of the most memorable French Grands Prix occurred in 1979 at Dijon-Prenois, when Jean-Pierre Jabouille became the first Frenchman to win at home under the umbrella of the World Championship of Drivers.
It was also the first time a turbocharged car won a Formula 1 race and it was Renault’s first win in the World Championship. The race also featured one of the greatest wheel-to-wheel battles in a race, between Renault’s Rene Arnoux and Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve.
The battle was for second place, and the Canadian driver ultimately managed to stay in front of the Frenchman.
Among Constructors, Ferrari leads the standings comfortably with 17 wins since 1950, clearly ahead of Williams’ eight wins at France.
Circuit Paul Ricard info
Paul Ricard first hosted a Formula 1 event in 1971, when Sir Jackie Stewart led a Tyrrell 1-2 ahead of Frenchman Francois Cevert.
The circuit hosted the French Grand Prix intermittently until 1990, with 14 events held in that span.
Alain Prost is the most successful driver at the circuit, with four wins, including three in a row from 1988 to 1990. Nigel Mansell and Sir Lewis Hamilton (two wins at the site each) are the only other drivers with multiple wins at Paul Ricard.
The original layout of the circuit is quite similar to the current track, although it currently has lots of different layouts available (as many as five different layouts of Paul Ricard have the FIA’s Grade One certification, which is required to host Formula 1 events).
The layout used since 2018 is a 15-turn, 5.842 km (3.630 miles) circuit that requires engine power from cars and has some high-speed corners and twisty sections that allow wheel-to-wheel battles.
Sunday’s race will have 53 laps and a distance of 309.69 km.
The current lap record was set by Sebastian Vettel in the 2019 French Grand Prix, with a 1:32.740 min lap driving the Ferrari SF90H.
Last year’s event had Max Verstappen in Pole Position, with a 1:29.990 min lap.
2022 French Grand Prix – Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2022 French Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli explained its choice with a press release: “The France F1 Grand Prix venue is a quite well-balanced circuit, where there is a bit of everything: fast corners and flat-out straights as well as slower and more technical sections.
All of that is placing medium-severity energy loads on the tyres, which is why it makes a good test track. At 12 metres wide, there are plenty of options when it comes to lines and overtaking: all providing an interesting challenge for the drivers.
The Mistral straight – named after the famous French wind, which can also disrupt the aerodynamic balance of the cars – also has the potential to cool the front tyres down. This can affect the turn-in at Signes immediately afterwards: the most demanding corner of the entire circuit, taken flat-out.
Going off the track is definitely to be avoided: the distinct red, white, and blue tricolour markings contain a high-friction material designed to slow cars down quickly, with high risk to flat spot the tyres.
Last year’s winning strategy was a two-stopper from Max Verstappen. It was a gamble as he was the only frontrunner to stop twice, with those behind him stopping just once, but it paid off as the Red Bull driver took the lead again a lap before the chequered flag..”
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 24.0 PSI (front) and 21.5 PSI (rear).
2022 French Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Friday, July 22nd – FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Sunny and pleasant
Max. temperature: 34°C
Chance of rain: 9%
Saturday, July 23rd – FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: Sunny and humid
Max. temperature: 34°C
Chance of rain: 1%
Sunday, July 24th – Race
Conditions: Sunny and pleasant
Max. temperature: 33°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Who will be on the 2022 French Grand Prix Podium?
The 2022 French Grand Prix is expected to be a weekend with competitiveness at the front, but that’s obviously not certain.
Mercedes won twice in France since the country returned in 2018, with Hamilton winning in 2018 and 2019. However, Red Bull won in 2021 with Max Verstappen and will be looking to return to victory.
Red Bull had a tough outing at Austria, as the car seemed to lose performance a few laps into each stint with new tyres. We can all expect the squad to come back strongly in France, but it can also be affected by the new technical directive aimed at the flexible floor saga.
Entertainment would be at an all-time high if the three Top teams manage to fight for the win on almost equal performance in France. As unlikely as it might sound, we could get some similar scenarios in the rest of the season.
Behind, Alpine could be a factor at home. The team, barring reliability issues, has been the strongest outfit behind the Top 3 and could be looking at more Top-5 finishes under the right circumstances and maybe even a podium.
Here we go. The top three for the 2022 French Grand Prix will be 1. Charles Leclerc, 2. Max Verstappen, 3. Esteban Ocon.
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