Formula One is all set to return this weekend and the action will now shift to the Circuit Paul Richard near Marseille in the French Riviera. It will be the eighth round of the season this year, with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dominating both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championship so far this year. Valtteri Bottas has also been in fine form, but Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc’s second and third place finishes at the Montreal circuit will no doubt cause concern to Toto Wolff and the Silver Arrows. Moreover, the controversy at Canada has made the title race all the more interesting, so drama is possibly guaranteed at the Paul Richard Circuit now.
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Here are five things you probably did not know about the French Grand Prix:
5. It is a very picturesque track
Being in the south of France, the French Grand Prix is likely to see hot weather conditions this year. That, however, should not deter you from exploring the race whose track runs along the coastline, villages and beautiful towns.
Known for it’s food and wines, this place provides the perfect backdrop to the cars who lined up to race for the first time last year in a long while. Hamilton is the defending champion of the race, while Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen came in second and third respectively last year.
4. Cars might get tested to their limits…
The 5.842 kilometers track has a mix of high, medium and slow corners which makes it extremely difficult to race in without a good aerodynamic balance. Racers often go in excess of 300 kmph in the middle of the Mistral Straight.
3. Overtaking is common…
Despite being a testing circuit until it was revamped in the 2000s, the Paul Richard circuit is surprising conducive to cars overtaking each other. Turn 1 and Turn 7 provide the most obvious overtaking opportunities, while particularly skilled racers can also use Turn 3 to overtake.
At Turn 1, a good braking zone immediately after the pit allows racers to go wheel-to-wheel while Turn 7 is a haven for those who revel in slipstreaming and DRS to make a move. For Turn 3, the changes in the aerodynamics should allow cars to stick closer to each other and thus have opportunities to overtake each other.
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2. The fans will be out in full view
The presence of Pierre Gasly and Romain Grosjean, as well as the Renault contingent, means there will be plenty of support for the drivers as well as the home team in the race.
Last year, Gasly and Esteban Ocon made up the French contingent but despite all the support, they both had to retire early. Renault, however, bagged points as Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz came in ninth and eight respectively. This year, one can be assured that the Partisan fans will be out in numbers to support their heroes.
1. Tyre strategy could be critical in determining the winner
Last year, the early Safety Car influenced most drivers to turn this into a one pit stop race. However, this year part of the track has been resurfaced with new asphalt and this might cause low tyre degradation but the heat might cause high thermal degradation.
Under these circumstances, the drivers have chosen eight or more sets of the compound tyres(C2) out of the thirteen sets that were offered to them by Pirelli. It might ultimately boil down to who manages to balance between tyre degradation and pit stops the best to determine the winner.
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