F1: 5 Takeaways from the French Grand Prix

French Grand Prix - Max Verstappen
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Once it was a tale of what might have been once again for Ferrari, as Max Verstappen sails to a comfortable win at the French Grand Prix.

While the battles on track may not have lived up to the previous two rounds in the 2022 Formula 1 season, the drama did not disappoint. A wild twist of fortunes at the front, a charging Ferrari through the field cut down by his own team, consistent Mercedes, and a weekend to forget at Haas. Let’s break down the French Grand Prix.

1 – Ferrari’s Costly Mistakes (Again)

Ferrari started the weekend with all the momentum. Winners of the last two races, the Italian team was well ahead in FP2. Leclerc maintained the lead at the start and appeared to be able to keep Verstappen at bay. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz tore through the field after starting on the back row after changing his enter hybrid system. Then Max pitted while it looked like Charles could make his tires last longer. However, a costly driver error sent him the barriers and left viewers with Leclerc’s frustrated shouts.

To make matters worse, Sainz drove up into the podium positions only to be called into the pits with ten laps to go. Perhaps they were confident his tires wouldn’t last for the remainder of the race, but it adds to a growing list of examples where the team, or the car, or a driver, is continually throwing away golden opportunities. Ferrari has improved this season, but if these issues are put to rest soon, it will become a season of what might have been rather than a year of stepping forward.

2 – Verstappen in Championship Cruise Control

Once again Verstappen turned what looked to be a weekend of ‘damage limitations’ into a comfortable win. With his main rival out of the GP, Max had an easy time taking home the 25 points. It was Verstappen’s seventh win of the season and ninth podium. He didn’t have the dominant car but drove like someone who feels comfortable in this title race. He was miles ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez on pace. Barring a sudden removal of errors by Ferrari and Leclerc, Verstappen simply needs consistent finishes to see home his second F1 Championship.
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3 – Mercedes Close the Gap

Mercedes fans and neutrals keep hoping that the next race weekend will be the one where the team truly makes it a three-team battle for the front. Minor improvements have been coming, and there was the double qualifying crash which limited their results in Austria. And while the team has pulled away from the midfield, they aren’t quite there yet. Mercedes’ rear wing experiment in practice didn’t work, but once again they proved to have better race pace than qualifying speed.

Hamilton had a wonderful start off the line and was able to keep Sergio Perez behind him, despite DRS and Red Bull’s straight-line speed. The team will leave France on a high having maintained their reliability and seeing both of their cars pass the 2nd Red Bull on pace. And it should be noted that as he marked his 300th Formula 1 race, Lewis Hamilton is one of only two drivers who have finished every race this season (along with Lance Stroll).

4 – McLaren vs. Alpine

2022 hasn’t been the year McLaren hoped for, or the season they’ve been used to recently. But after a series of setbacks, they finally appear to have a bit of momentum. For the first time, all season the Payaya have had both cars in the points for two races in a row. That’s lifted them away from the rest of the midfield and toward their old rival, Alpine (Renault). The French squad will be happy to have both cars in the top eight for their home Grand Prix but must have concerns about their race pace. For a while, it looked like they could possibly challenge Mercedes for 3rd, but have not been able to keep up with the Silver Arrows on Sundays. After finishing 120 points behind McLaren in 2021, Alpine will be satisfied to take home 4th this season and aim for podiums in 2023.

5 – Frustrating Weekend for Haas

Meanwhile, it was an abrupt halt for the American-owned Haas team. Back-to-back races brought Mick Schumacher’s first career F1 points and brought them in 7th place in the Constructor’s Championship. And that’s without any upgrades this season! Can you imagine Guenther Steiner and upgrades? Podiums guaranteed. But seriously, they’ve surpassed expectations this season, but will be happy to get out of France. Schumacher was quick in qualifying but had his lap deleted removing his chance to be in Q3. Magnussen started in the back after taking a new power unit but quickly moved through the field. Contact with Latifi after pitting forced his retirement and left Haas wondering what might have been.

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