To the French Riviera and Circuit Paul Ricard near Marseille for Renault’s home Grand Prix, and I’m disappointed that they couldn’t rename Circuit Paul Ricard to Circuit
The French also have one of the more unique podium trophies seen in the World Championship- A tricolour King Kong holding a Pirelli Tyre.
Creative, yet hilarious.
Not too many surprises, as per usual, although Sebastian Vettel was yet again the big loser in Q3, having his best time wiped out for having all four wheels off the track during the lap.
Yet again, the unofficial track record was broken, this time by Lewis Hamilton for pole from Bottas, with LeClerc in for 3rd (And easily beating Seb) and Verstappen in 4th.
Vettel struggled in for 7th, and Dan once again beat Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault Qualifying battle, starting from 8th.
It appears that McLaren are improving as rapidly as their engine supplier, with Norris and Sainz locking out the third row ahead of a Ferrari & a Red Bull, a result that had the brains trust on the McLaren pit wall at half-mast.
On another note, Dan was investigated by the Stewards for an incident in Q1, which saw Kimi Raikkonen go flying off the track at Turn 10 on a flying lap.
But with an apology face like this, what could’ve gone wrong in the Steward’s Room?
He was cleared on all charges, although it wouldn’t be the last incident with Raikkonen for the weekend.
Fortunately I got home from State of Origin just in time to strap in to the start of the race, as the grid celebrated Sir Jackie Stewart’s 80th Birthday!
At the start Hamilton cleared Bottas easily and began methodically destroying the Finn, LeClerc stayed in 3rd, Dan dropped to 10th behind Giovinazzi and Gasly, but eventually worked his way past the Sauber, and caught up to the Red Bull by the time of the stops on Lap 17.
Renault tried the undercut to get Ricciardo ahead of Gasly.
A fool-hearted attempt, considering Renault are on average, the slowest pit crew, and the Bulls operate at the speed of sound.
Case in point- Red Bull’s stop was 1.3 seconds faster, although Ricciardo used the DRS to overtake Gasly on his out-lap.
A later overtake by Ricciardo on Romain Grosjean Lap 28 was noted by the stewards for the fact that Dan only slightly put all four wheels off the track (Which Romain cracked the shits about), but it wasn’t investigated, since Grosjean was travelling like a crab before he pitted.
And then on Lap 33, Ricciardo noted that his water bottle wasn’t connected, which in a place like Malaysia or Singapore would probably constitute a forced retirement, but still, he fought on.
Eventually the race petered out after the final stops at the end of Lap 38- Hamilton, setting lap record after lap record, led by 13 seconds from Bottas, LeClerc was comfortably ahead of Vertsappen, who was comfortably ahead of Vettel, then the two McLarens, and then to Ricciardo in 8th, who was fighting Raikkonen and Hulkenberg, both of them on the medium tyres, for the final points positions.
Unfortunately, Norris began to suffer from overheating brakes with 11 laps to go, putting him within reach of the Dan-led express behind, although Hamilton lapped Ricciardo with 5 laps to go, which gave Norris 4 seconds of breathing room, later equalised when Norris was subsequently lapped, which allowed Ricciardo back onto his rear.
And then in an epic final lap, Ricciardo pulled the Grosjean trick on Norris, putting all four wheels off the track, forcing Norris wide, which also allowed Raikkonen past Ricciardo, and Hulkenberg past the McLaren, and in the run down the straight, Ricciardo yet again took all four wheels off to get past Kimi, who did give him room up the inside before Turn 10.
Of course we didn’t see this live, since the FOM Director was too busy showing LeClerc’s failed attempt to catch Bottas for 2nd, while the timing board between 7th & 10th places was having a fit on the world feed.
Hamilton did set the fastest lap yet again just to cap off his lastest win, although his Grand Chelem of Pole + FL + Led Every Lap was destroyed by Vettel, who stopped just to have a crack at stealing the fastest lap bonus point, which ultimately worked, setting a new lap record in the process.
Despite that emotional devastation, it was Hamilton’s 200th points finish in F1 (From 237 starts), and Mercedes AMG’s 50th 1-2 finish, the second team after Ferrari to reach the half-century.
Unsurprisingly, Daniel’s actions on the final lap were investigated by the stewards, and he was slapped with a total of a 10 second penalty (5 seconds for both incidents), dropping him to 11th, and robbing Renault of a double-points finish.
Apparently the Charlie Brown sad face I showed earlier only worked once, but not that Dan The Man regretted anything.
The ones who sit back without a heart are called the Stewards.
Quick back-up next week, as we head to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix!