French Grand Prix Photo By: Moritz Graf on Unsplash

French Grand Prix 2022 Preview & Schedule

The F1 2022 action isn’t stopping just yet, as we’ve got the French Grand Prix to look forward to this weekend. Will the drivers be forced to wear berets on top of their helmets? Can they throw baguettes at each other like something out of Mario Kart? We’ll find out.

But first, here’s a recap of the Austrian Formula One race.

What a victory from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who got back to his winning form again in Austria. Leclerc was unstoppable during the entire race, even battling car reliability problems late in the contest, not to mention current F1 champion Max Verstappen breathing down his neck.

Leclerc earned his fifth career victory in style and fended off Red Bull’s Verstappen well at the end of the race. Verstappen ended in second, but one of the more pleasant surprises was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finishing in third. Hamilton and his team haven’t performed up to expectations for this season, but have been steadily improving and this third spot is a great sign of things to come.

It wasn’t all good news for Ferrari, however, as Carlos Sainz’s engine caught on fire with only around 10 laps remaining. The car went up in flames incredibly quickly, but luckily, Sainz escaped the blaze by jumping out of the cockpit and reaching safety before the fire crew arrived.

Mercedes’ George Russell and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez got into a minor scrap at the beginning of the race, with Russell clipping Perez’s tyre and sending him spinning into the gravel. Perez, unfortunately, couldn’t overcome the damage to finish the race, while Russell received a five-second penalty but still ended the competition in fourth place.

Venue, time, & where to watch the F1 French Grand Prix

The F1 French Grand Prix will happen at Circuit Paul Ricard circuit on Sunday 24th July. UK viewers can watch the race at 14:00 on Sky Sports F1. The full racing schedule is below.

© – Motorsport on TV

The French circuit is certainly one of the oldest on the F1 calendar, with the first race taking place way back in 1971. The current lap record is held by Sebastian Vettel (2019) with 1:32.740. The French GP in 2022 will be 53 laps and the circuit length is 5.842km long.

The Circuit Paul Ricard is actually one of the more balanced tracks in F1, as it contains an interesting mix of high, medium, and low-speed corners that continue to test the drivers’ resolve. Formula One teams regularly use the track in pre-season checks due to the vast range of corner and straight speeds available.

The most exciting corner to watch is the right-hander at Signes, which often witnesses speeds of up to 290km/h and a fair bit of dramatic moments over the years. There are ample opportunities to overtake, which is something that F1 fans will absolutely love!

3 major F1 talking points

Here are just a few of the biggest discussions heading into the Formula One 2022 race in France.

The Prancing Horse rides again

Red Bull had six victories in a row and many were calling Verstappen the champion yet again, but even though Ferrari stumbled, it kept fighting and is right back in the mix.

While Ferrari probably would have loved Leclerc to take Silverstone, it’s still good to see Sainz picking up a victory and being competitive in F1. Leclerc taking Austria is a huge boost to his championship run and Ferrari’s chances for a strong finish to the season. Ferrari is ready to remind everyone they’re still here.

The engine issue that affected Sainz in Austria is more likely an anomaly than a recurring problem, but if Ferrari really wants to dethrone Red Bull, then it will need a one/two finish in France to lessen any competitor points.

After all, Ferrari did struggle with tyre degradation last year and that really put a stop to their chances, but the issues are solved and we can see that the team does overcome car problems quickly and efficiently.

Leclerc does have the talent and ambition to continually beat Verstappen enough for the championship, but what he really needs is a reliable car to help him get there. This looks like the first season that everything is aligning for Leclerc.

Mercedes is good again?

This seems to be the question in the F1 world right now. It was fantastic to witness Hamilton finishing third and Russell fourth in Austria, as it shows that both drivers are finally displaying the form we knew they were capable of all along.

Formula One is always more interesting when there’s a possibility of any team winning the race, and while we’re far from that just yet, at least it’s Red Bull, Ferrari, and now Mercedes with a chance at the victory.

Hamilton was aggressive in his pursuit of the top two in Austria, and despite settling for third, his hunt for the chequered flag indicates he and the car are ready for more victories on the horizon. Russell is a great driver in the making, but we’d love to see more from Hamilton, as it’s hard to know when his final season will be.

There is a bit of similarity to Silverstone when it comes to the Paul Ricard circuit, which means high speeds on the corners and a very smooth surface that will suit Mercedes perfectly.

Look out for the middle of the pack

Although McLaren is rarely a team discussed in the F1 news, there has been much speculation about Daniel Ricciardo’s dissatisfaction with the current set-up. Ricciardo is contracted until the end of 2023, but there have been rumblings that both he and the team will end things before then.

There could be a lot of musical chairs with not just Ricciardo, but also former world champions like Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Both drivers have still got a lot of skill to offer to F1 teams, and they have been very quiet on confirming what they’ll do at the end of this season.

Driver standings

This is how the top 10 looks in the driver standings right now.

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 208 points

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 170 points

3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 151 points

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 133 points

5. George Russell (Mercedes) 128 points

6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 109 points

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) 64 points

8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 52 points

9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 46 points

10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 29 points

Predicted outcome for the French Grand Prix in 2022

All in all, there’s a feeling amongst the F1 experts that this will be the first win of the season for Lewis Hamilton. This will be the 7-time winner’s 300th Grand Prix, so you just know that he wants the glory of a victory to tie into the achievement.

Not that Verstappen or Leclerc will let Hamilton cruise to the finish line by any means, however, as they’re both embroiled in their own storylines for a must-have win. Hamilton knows the track well and Mercedes have been getting steadily better in the last five races.

We’re thinking Hamilton first, then Leclerc, followed by Verstappen.

A lot of sun and heat is expected for Le Castellet, which is the area of the French F1 racing circuit. Around 34 degrees Celsius is forecasted, although the wind speed will be more than usual. It might not be hot enough to melt any tarmac, but it will be interesting to see how the heat affects the race.

Author: Joe Garland