This weekend is the 2021 Formula One French Grand Prix – round seven on the calendar.
It's a pretty exciting time to be a Formula One fan. For the first time in a while Lewis Hamilton isn't leading the way, and neither is Mercedes. After a drama-filled race around the streets of Baku, Max Verstappen holds onto his championship lead, but only by four points.
It's the first time F1 will race at the famous Paul Ricard Circuit since 2019, the round kicking off the first triple-header of the season. On F1's last visit it was a Mercedes 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton finishing on top, Valtteri Bottas second and Charles Leclerc following behind in third.
News from the paddock includes the recent contract extension of Esteban Ocon with the Alpine Formula One team, resigning the Frenchman on a new three-year deal. This unfortunately closes the door for Aussie hopeful Oscar Piastri for 2022, given teammate Fernando Alonso's two-year contract runs until the end of 2022.
Pirelli released findings from its investigation into the tyre failures suffered in Azerbaijan, with F1's official tyre supplier suggesting the blow-outs were due to debris.
In other news, rumours continue to circulate around George Russell and his potential move to Mercedes for 2022, with Valtteri out of contract at the end of this season.
The French Grand Prix is expected to be overcast for much of the weekend, with a slight chance of rain showers on race day.
F1 visited the Circuit Paul Ricard for the first time in 1971, with Jackie Stewart winning the inaugural race in his Tyrrell 003. The circuit is 5.842 km in length, with a race distance of 309.690 km over 53 laps.
Lap record: 1:32.740 (Sebastian Vettel, 2019)
|Free Practice 1||Friday 18th June||19:00||Fox Sports 506 / Kayo|
|Free Practice 2||Friday 18th June||22:45||Fox Sports 506 / Kayo|
|Free Practice 3||Saturday 19th June||19:45||Fox Sports 506 / Kayo|
|Qualifying||Saturday 19th June||23:00||Fox Sports 506 / Kayo|
|Race||Sunday 20th June||22:00||Fox Sports 506 / Kayo|
2021 teams and drivers
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Räikkönen & Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Alpine (previously Renault)||Fernando Alonso & Esteban Ocon|
|AlphaTauri||Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda|
|Aston Martin (previously Racing Point)||Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz|
|Haas||Mick Schumacher & Nikita Mazepin|
|McLaren||Daniel Ricciardo & Lando Norris|
|Mercedes-AMG||Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez|
|Williams||George Russell & Nicholas Latifi|
There have been sixteen French Grands Prix held at the Circuit Paul Ricard since the first event at the track in 1971.
Alain Prost has won the most times of any driver at the French Grand Prix, with four victories.
Lewis Hamilton is the only driver in the 2021 field with more than one win at the track.
Renault, Williams, McLaren and Mercedes have all won back-to-back races at Paul Ricard. No team has won more than two races in a row at the track.
From sixteen races at this circuit, the pole-sitter has finished on the podium twelve times.
There's lots to play for yet again, as everyone asks the question as to whether or not Max can maintain his championship lead. It won't be an easy task with Hamilton having the upper hand at this track in the past.
There is one piece of good news for Max and Red Bull, though, as both the Red Bulls and AlphaTauris will score a brand-new Honda engine this weekend, with Mercedes already installing theirs in Azerbaijan.
Watch out again for Charles Leclerc who's searching for his third successive pole and has shown great consistency so far this season. His teammate in Carlos Sainz has found his groove in the Ferrari – scoring a podium in Monaco – while Sergio Perez will be beaming with confidence fresh off his win in Baku.
No doubt we'll see McLaren fight at the top of the mid-field, but which one? It'd be great to see Dan up there as he continues to adjust his driving style to the new car. Lando Norris has had a great season so far and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw him on the podium this weekend.
My tip is Mercedes this time around though. It has a great record at this track and with Lewis coming off a disastrous round he'll be fighting harder than ever.
Who will come out on top? Let us know your predictions for the weekend.
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