On of the eve of the French Grand Prix, we take a look at the performances of the French drivers so far this season.
CHARLES LECLERC (Ferrari)
Results in 2019: 5-3-5-5-5-Ret-3
Head-to-head in 2019: Vettel 5, Leclerc 1
It was always going to be a tough challenge for Leclerc to come into the balmy parameters of Ferrari and spark into life straight away.
Sebastian Vettel is the clear number one driver and looking to battle against his priority status is only going to end one way.
In the 2019 season so far, Leclerc has been out-qualified five times by Vettel and has only finished ahead of the German once – in Bahrain.
However, for as disappointing as those statistics may sound, he should really have tasted victory in Bahrain, only to be struck down by reliability issues when leading late on. Still, a first podium on his third competitive drive for the Italian marque was an extremely positive result.
Morale did increase and he finished fifth on three-successive occasions in China, Baku and Spain. In Baku, he was fastest all weekend but a mistake during Q2 forced him to start from eighth. With the narrow turns in the Azerbaijan capital, the 21-year-old could only manage fifth on race day.
A retirement in front of his home fans in Monaco was disappointing last month, but he responded two weeks later to clinch a second podium of the season in Canada.
A positive result in France this weekend should continue an otherwise decent first season at Ferrari. And don’t forget, it’s only his second season in F1.
PIERRE GASLY (Red Bull)
Results in 2019: 11-8-6-Ret-6-5-8
Head-to-head in 2019: Verstappen 7, Gasly 0
After a strong year with Toro Rosso last campaign, the 23-year-old was deservedly promoted to a Red Bull seat.
Like Leclerc, it was always going to take time to perform in a new machine and get comfortable in a new team environment. But since stepping into the car in March, he has struggled against team-mate Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman has outperformed Gasly in all seven races this campaign, and has been on top in qualifying on six occasions. A startling difference.
Underwhelming performances in Australia (17th) and Bahrain (13th) converted into disappointing results (11th and eighth respectively), with many suggesting the Rouen native could be replaced by the end of the season.
He did improve, finishing sixth in China and Spain and fifth in Monaco. And he could have even finished sixth in Baku but a late driveshaft issue forced him to retire.
At the recent Canadian Grand Prix, he struggled around the track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, qualifying a career-high fifth, but ended up crossing the line in a disastrous eighth place on race day. To put that into context, Verstappen started four places behind him in ninth and still finished ahead of him in fifth.
With Toro Rosso rising star Alexander Albon breathing down his neck, Gasly’s home race is a perfect opportunity for a formidable result if he wants to retain his seat at Milton Keynes next season.
ROMAIN GROSJEAN (Haas)
Results in 2019: Ret-Ret-11-Ret-10-10-14
Head-to-head in 2019: Grosjean 3, Magnussen 4
Grosjean has had a mixed season to date, performing well at times in qualifying but only recording two points in seven races for the American outfit.
However, three retirements in the first four races for the Swiss resident has also highlighted the other aspect of his campaign – bad luck.
Overall, it’s been a more improved than this point last season. He scored back-to-back points finishes in Spain and Monaco, but has been outperformed in four of the seven races by team-mate Kevin Magnussen, with the Dane capturing season-highs of sixth and seventh respectively in Australia and Spain.
Last year was the comeback of the French Grand Prix after a 10-year absence, but the race ended badly for Grosjean, who screwed up his qualifying and then collected a penalty on race day, finishing 11th.
The 33-year-old’s best days may well be behind him, but he owes his home fans a strong showing this weekend.
Ferrari will not appeal against Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty which saw him lose the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel was demoted to second behind Lewis Hamilton after he was punished for rejoining the track in an unsafe fashion.
Ferrari lodged their intention to challenge the stewards’ controversial verdict following the race at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
But Press Association Sport understands that Ferrari have informed the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, that they will not take action.
Under article 14 of the sporting code, Ferrari will retain their ‘right of review’ which enables them to question the verdict if significant new evidence is discovered.
Vettel fell off the track at the first chicane while defending his lead from Hamilton on lap 48 of Sunday’s race.
The Mercedes star called his Ferrari counterpart’s driving dangerous, saying he had to slow down to avoid a collision.
Vettel protested his innocence, describing the stewards as “blind”, before swapping the first and second place markers around after the race, and initially swerving the podium celebrations.
Although Britain’s 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell called the stewards’ verdict “embarrassing”.
The former world champion said: “Vettel went all the way across the track, and he could easily have left more space for Lewis. He left hardly any room.
“Lewis cannot be blamed for anything. He had to back out of it. He would have been in the wall if he had stayed there. It is very clear it was an unsafe return to the track. It was a fully deserved penalty.”
Vettel, who hasn’t won a race since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix, trails Hamilton by 62 points in the championship standings.
Provided by Press Association Sport
The Montreal crowd’s cheers for an aggrieved Sebastian Vettel were laced with sympathy after he was stripped of a first Grand Prix win in 15 attempts despite a near-perfect drive.
And those soon morphed into raucous roars of approval at his theatrical gesture on the post-race grid.
A Formula One season starved of gripping narrative was injected with a heavy dose of drama when Vettel marched over to the No2 signboard and placed it in front of Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes before plonking the No1 board ahead of his empty space.
It was an incredible visual and greeted as if he were an inspirational rebel, fuelled by righteous indignation, fighting a losing yet glorious battle against an appalling injustice.
Of course, it could also be construed as petulant and thoroughly unprofessional. But that’s the unpopular opinion.
Vettel followed a stunning lap in qualifying to claim pole with a flawless start to the Canadian GP on Sunday, quickly pulling away from second-placed Hamilton early on. However, with little over 20 laps to go, the German’s lead was cut pretty fine as was the grass when he ran wide on Turn 3 before rejoining the track in Hamilton’s path who was forced to brake to avoid collision.
After much deliberation, the FIA stewards slapped a five-second penalty on Vettel with 13 laps to go and Hamilton hot on his heels. The Ferrari driver crossed the chequered flag first but only marginally so and was forced to settle for second place on the podium.
Mercedes have now won each of the seven races so far including six one-twos while Hamilton is already 62 points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ championship.
The penalty was indeed a harsh call but made to seem excessive owing to the fact that it cost Vettel his first race win since Belgium last year. A five-second penalty for a violation like that is technically the most lenient reprimand though.
Vettel would have you believe that he’s been denied victory through no fault of his own but that isn’t entirely accurate. While he certainly deserves a portion of sympathy, the bottom line is he made a mistake, a big one and just the latest in a long list of similar errors.
On Lap 48, both front-runners were struggling on the hard tyres. Hamilton noticeably locked up his front wheels on a few occasions but remarkably kept the pressure on Vettel, riding the corners hard and negating the Ferrari‘s superior straight-line speed.
With the Briton gaining on him, Vettel panicked. He braked late in Turn 3, didn’t have enough grip and found himself mowing the lawn. It was a basic mistake from the four-time world champion and the kind that he’s become familiar with in recent years.
He punched the throttle too early in Bahrain this year with Hamilton in pursuit and spun out, a repeat of his errors in Japan and the US last year. He braked late in slippery German conditions last season and crashed, handing his rival the title advantage in a season which also featured glaring errors in France and Germany.
As for this violation – one that Ferrari are challenging – there’s no denying that Vettel has a strong argument, one that highlights the myriad of things wrong with modern day F1 racing, but there’s a suspicion he’s more frustrated with himself for squandering a golden opportunity, or at least he should be.
With the pace Ferrari showed over practice and qualifying, Montreal should’ve made for a revival of this season’s competition. But when Vettel veered off track, he took any hope of Ferrari reeling Mercedes in with him.