Lewis Hamilton made it seven out of seven for Mercedes in Canada two weeks ago. He and his team should continue their dominance of the 2019 Formula One season at this weekend’s French Grand Prix (Race: 9:10am ET Sunday, live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton’s win in Montreal was not without controversy. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had led until an off resulted in him squeezing Hamilton towards the wall as he rejoined the track. He received a five-second penalty that allowed Hamilton simply to follow him home for victory.
Vettel made his displeasure at the decision known both over team radio and in the direct aftermath of the race. For the sport, it wasn’t a great look for the car that crossed the line first not to be the winner. The stewards’ decision was unanimous and based partially on information that was not available to television viewers.
The cynical might suggest that Vettel’s post-race pouting, including swapping over the markers for first and second to cheers from the crowd, was designed to draw attention away from the fact that it had been his error that had provoked the incident. It was far from the first one he has made over the last few years when in direct competition with Hamilton.
Ferrari appear to have a straight line speed advantage at this stage. They were able to put it to good effect in Montreal to claim their first double-podium finish of the season, with Charles Leclerc coming home third. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas recovered from a scrappy qualifying session that only yielded sixth on the grid to finish fourth for Mercedes.
The grid now moves onto the Paul Ricard Circuit in Le Castellet for the French Grand Prix, with Mercedes again the most likely winners. They locked out the front row there last year, with Hamilton ahead of Bottas. Hamilton then took a pretty comfortable victory on race day. A first-lap collision with Vettel prevented Bottas from challenging right near the front.
Even if Ferrari are more or less level with Mercedes on outright pace this weekend, you still fancy Mercedes to beat them to victory, simply because at both a team and individual level, they have made far fewer mistakes this year. Hamilton has a good chance of extending his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship with his sixth victory of the season.
Max Verstappen continued comfortably to best his Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly by coming home fifth in Canada, three places ahead of the Frenchman, who will be hoping for a better performance on home soil this weekend. They were split by the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, who achieved the team’s first double-points finish of the year.
Renault will introduce a significant upgrade package for their home race. They hope not only to establish themselves as the fourth quickest team (they currently trail McLaren by two points for that position in the constructors’ championship) but to get closer to the front three. Ricciardo’s excellent fourth in qualifying in Canada and the race-day performance of both cars renewed optimism within the team.
The two Renault cars finished eighth and ninth at last year’s French Grand Prix, but if their upgrades have the desired effect, they will be aiming for a little higher this time around. Another top-six finish for Ricciardo certainly isn’t out of the question.
The remaining pair of points-paying positions in Canada were filled by local boy Lance Stroll in his Canadian-backed Racing Point and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kyvat.
It is difficult to find much value on the points finish market for this weekend’s race. Williams are so far off the pace almost to automatically exclude their two drivers. Antonio Giovinazzi showed in Canada that he cannot be trusted to take advantage of opportunities even when his Sauber is capable. Racing Point weren’t on the pace in France last year and are unlikely to be so this year. Kyvat will take an engine penalty.
It may, therefore, be worth looking to the possibility of a safety car. Even though one was deployed last year in the first French Grand Prix since 2008, the incredibly wide runoff areas at the Paul Ricard circuit cancel out most of the circumstances in which one would usually be required. On balance, there is a solid chance the safety car won’t make an appearance this time around.
Our Betting Preview’s F1 French Grand Prix Predictions & Picks Conclusion
- Bet on Lewis Hamilton to win the race @ -110 with BetOnline (found in their ‘futures’ section an then ‘motor sports’)
- Bet on Daniel Ricciardo to finish in the top six @ +225 with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline.
- Back there not to be a safety car (ie: Safety Car In The Race? Bet ‘No’) @ +150 (6/4) with Bovada.