2019 Australian Grand Prix – Preview

It has been an interesting off-season in Formula One, with a number of big changes. Daniel Ricciardo leaving Red Bull Racing-Honda to join Renault and being replaced by Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc joining Ferrari to replace Kimi Räikkönen, who has join Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Lance Stroll joining Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and new driver pairing at McLaren-Renault (Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat), and Williams-Mercedes (George Russell and Robert Kubica).

However, the most decisive change may well be the addition of a championship point for the driver who sets the fastest lap of each race in 2019, as long as the driver who sets it finishes the race inside the Top 10, and with an extra 21 points potentially on the line, could this decide who wins the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which starts this weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne?

Possibly, but who are the championship contenders?

Realistically, based on the results of testing, three teams are capable of challenging for the world championship.

Mercedes are obviously going to be right up there, and are chasing an unprecedented sixth-straight drivers/constructors championship double. Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly in career-best form as he looks to hunt down a number of records held by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, including most championships, most race wins (Schumacher 91 to 73), most podiums (Schumacher 155 to 134), and most races led (Schumacher 142 to 129), while his teammate Valtteri Bottas will be looking for a vastly-improved performance in 2019 after finishing fifth in the world championship in 2018.

However, Mercedes face a huge battle to maintain their superiority against Ferrari, who have been very quick in testing in the hands of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, and his new teammate Charles Leclerc, who will become the youngest driver to race for Ferrari since the late Ricardo Rodriguez (19 years and 208 days) in 1961 at the age of 21 years and 153 days.

Vettel, who is looking for a third-straight win in Australia, will be desperate to deliver Ferrari their first driver’s world championship since Kimi Räikkönen back in 2007, and the Prancing Horse have been quick in testing, leading the timesheets on four of the eight days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and if that is anything to go by, Ferrari will be serious championship contenders to Mercedes in 2019, but the obvious question marks will be whether Vettel and Ferrari can sustain a championship challenge for a full season against the juggernaut that is Hamilton and Mercedes, and whether Leclerc will prove a handful for Vettel, and deny the German the fifth world championship that he has been seeking since joining Ferrari in 2015?

The third team that appears to be a championship contender is Red Bull Racing-Honda with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. Verstappen is perhaps the most natural talent in Formula One today with the possible exception of Lewis Hamilton, and if he and Red Bull can get on a good run, they can challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for the world championship. However, the jury is still out on Gasly, and whether he can fill the large shoes of Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull.

Talking about Ricciardo, he is now with Renault for the 2019 season, driving alongside Nico Hülkenberg, and on the face of it, they look like they may well be the fourth-quickest, and the best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. However, I don’t think Renault are quite at that level of being a championship contender just yet, but if there is a chance of a really strong result, you know Ricciardo will be there to take the opportunity, and maybe a race victory, which would be the eighth of his career, isn’t out of the realms of possibility!

However, a team that won’t be challenging anywhere near the front is Williams-Mercedes. It was a disastrous off-season for the great British team, with the team not getting their car out onto the track until the second half of the third day of testing in Barcelona, and appear comfortably behind the rest of the field, which is a shame considering the miraculous return to Formula One of Robert Kubica for the first time since 2010 after the shocking rally accident in February 2011, which he came close to losing his life.

Hopefully at some point in 2019, we can see Kubica and Williams in a competitive position, but that seems unlikely at the moment.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, and perhaps the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship?

In regards to both, it is going to be battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, as well as Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda, and despite speculation that they have been knocked off their perch, I think Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will rise to the top, and dominate the weekend at Albert Park, and the two times when he has won the Australian Grand Prix (2008, 2015), he has gone onto win the world championship, and if he gets off to the perfect start, it is going to be a tall order for anyone to stop him winning his sixth championship, and moving to within one of Michael Schumacher!

 

Advertisements

2018 Mexican Grand Prix – Preview

Kimi Räikkönen took his 21st career race victory in Formula One, but his first since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, when he was with the Lotus F1 Team, by taking out the 2018 United States Grand Prix, his first win in the United States, holding of Max Verstappen, who charged from 18th on the grid to claim second, and claimed the Driver of the Day award, and Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes taking a strategic gamble by taking the pit-stop under the virtual safety car, but it backfired, but despite requiring a second pit-stop, Hamilton charged back to finish in a close third.

And with this, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship battle is still alive heading into the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, Round 19 of the championship.

Hamilton (346 points) leads the world championship for Mercedes by 70 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (276 points) after another disappointing performance by the German, finishing in fourth after spinning on the opening lap when racing Daniel Ricciardo, throwing away yet another opportunity for a crucial race victory.

Behind Hamilton and Vettel in the championship, Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (221 points) has re-taken third in the standings ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (217 points), while Verstappen (191 points) is closing in on both of them in a close fifth for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, but the Dutchman’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo (146 points) is still mathematically in the hunt, but realistically knows that sixth is the best he can do this year in the world championship after suffering his seventh retirement of the season.

However, while the battle for third in the championship is starting to heat up, the battle for seventh in the standings has been blown wide open, with Nico Hülkenberg (61 points) moving up to seventh after a sixth-place finish at the Circuit of the Americas for Renault, with Sergio Pérez (57 points) slipping one place back to eighth in the world championship after finishing in the same position at the United States Grand Prix for Force India-Mercedes.

Behind Hülkenberg and Pérez, the trio of Kevin Magnussen (53 points) for Haas-Ferrari, Fernando Alonso (50 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Esteban Ocon (49 points) for Force India-Mercedes, who in the case of Alonso retired from the United States Grand Prix, and in the case of Magnussen and Ocon were disqualified after technical breaches in regards to their fuel usage, with Magnussen using beyond the maximum 105kg of fuel, and Ocon for exceeding the fuel-flow limit on the opening lap of the grand prix, while Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (45 points) moves into the tussle for seventh in the world championship after finishing seventh in Austin.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (563 points) have had their lead narrowed slightly to 66 points over Ferrari (497 points), while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (337 points) will finish third regardless of what happens in the final three races of the season, but behind them, Renault (106 points) have taken a firm grip on fourth ahead of Haas-Ferrari (84 points), while Force India-Mercedes (47 points) close in on McLaren-Renault (58 points) for sixth, a tight battle continues for eighth in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (32 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (28 points), while Williams-Mercedes (seven points) have had a lock on 10th in the Constructors’ Championship for quite a while.

So, with the opportunity of both the Drivers’ World Championship, and the Constructors’ World Championship to be claimed this weekend by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes respectively, this is how they can do it.

For Hamilton to claim his fifth world championship at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City:

  1. If Vettel wins, Hamilton must finish 7th or higher.
  2. If Vettel doesn’t win, Hamilton becomes a five-time Formula One World Champion.

For Mercedes to claim their fifth-straight Constructors World Championship at the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, Mercedes must out-score Ferrari by 20 points or more.

So, who will win in Mexico?

Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer have been targeting this race as a chance to grab a win before the 2018 season comes to an end, and judging by their form in Austin, they are a strong chance of success, and with the high altitude reducing the power-unit advantage of Mercedes and Ferrari, you could see a race victory from either Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo, and if that happens, Lewis Hamilton will be a five-time world champion.

2018 Italian GP – Preview

Sebastian Vettel capped off a dominant weekend for Ferrari with his third Belgian Grand Prix victory, which was the 52nd of his career, surpassing fellow four-time world champion Alain Prost into outright third for most wins in Formula One, and is just behind his current championship rival Lewis Hamilton (67 wins) and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher (91 wins) in the record books, and now heads to Monza with all the momentum in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship as he continues to battle with Hamilton in the quest to join Juan Manuel Fangio with five world championships.

However, Hamilton (231 points) still leads the championship over Vettel (214 points), but the lead of the Mercedes driver has been cut to 17 points, with the Italian Grand Prix shaping up as a must win for Hamilton and Mercedes as he looks to win at Monza for the fifth time, and equal Schumacher’s record for most victories at the Italian Grand Prix. Of course last year, Hamilton surpassed his record of most pole positions in Formula One in what was one of the all-time great laps in the wet, almost 1.2 seconds quicker than Max Verstappen, who along with his teammate grid Daniel Ricciardo had grid penalties for power-unit and gearbox changes last year.

Meanwhile, Vettel will be looking to end the domination of Mercedes at arguably the most power-dominated circuit in Formula One, and take Ferrari back to the top step of the podium at Monza for the first time since Fernando Alonso won for the Prancing Horse in 2010, and take his third Italian Grand Prix in the process after winning in 2011 and 2013.

Behind the two drivers who are often regarded as the best of the current era, we have close battle between four drivers for third in the world championship between Vettel’s teammate and 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen (146 points), Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (144 points), and the two Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer drivers in Verstappen (120 points), who has overtaken his teammate Ricciardo (118 points) into fifth in the championship.

However, you would expect both of the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer drivers to struggle at the low downforce, power-dominated circuit, which doesn’t suit their rebadged power-unit.

The back end of the top 10 in the championship is completed by Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (52 points), Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (49 points), McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (44 points), and Force India-Mercedes driver in Sergio Pérez (40 points).

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (375 points) extended their lead to 15 points over Ferrari (360 points) despite not winning the Belgian Grand Prix, with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (238 points) in a comfortable third.

Behind them, Renault (82 points) lead the battle for fourth, ahead of Haas-Ferrari (76 points), with McLaren-Renault (52 points) in a lonely sixth, with Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (30 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (19 points) following, with Force India-Mercedes (18 points), who were stripped of their former points tally due to technically being a new entrant after their change of management, climbing up to ninth, and are ahead of Williams-Mercedes (four points), who will be hoping the Italian Grand Prix will be their chance to score some more points in what has been an annus horribilis in 2018.

So, who will win the Italian Grand Prix?

As strange as it might sound, given Mercedes dominance at Monza over the last four years, it is a circuit and a race that should actual suit Ferrari better, and that is a danger sign for Mercedes given their poor speed since 2014 (relative of course) at the Singapore Grand Prix, and while a number of circuits after the next two should suit Mercedes, you sense this is Ferrari’s chance to take a stranglehold of the world championship, and for Sebastian Vettel to move one step closer to a fifth world championship.

2018 Hungarian GP – Preview

After an astonishing comeback drive from Lewis Hamilton, compliment by great strategy, and a little bit of luck to comeback from 14th on the grid to grab his first win after starting outside of the top six in his Formula One career, and the huge mistake from Sebastian Vettel to crash out from the German Grand Prix has turned the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship on its head heading into Round 12 at the Hungaroring in Mogyoród, just outside of Budapest, for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton (188 points) has re-taken the championship lead by 17 points for Mercedes ahead of his fierce championship rival Vettel (171 points) for Ferrari with 10 races remaining of a marathon 2018 world championship, with both drivers and teams evenly-matched for the most part, with Hamilton and Vettel tied on four wins each, with Hamilton having two more podiums, but both Mercedes and Ferrari having the same amounts of wins (four) and podiums (13) as they seek to give Hamilton, in the case of Mercedes, and Vettel, in the case of Ferrari, their fifth world championship, which would equal Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957), and put them within two of Michael Schumacher (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).

In addition to this, as I was writing this preview, I heard of the sad passing of the former Chairman and CEO of both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari Sergio Marchionne aged 66. He was a giant of the car and motoring industry, helping turn around Fiat, and assisting Chrysler out of bankruptcy, with both companies merging. Marchionne also played his part in helping Ferrari to improved competitiveness in Formula One, but sadly won’t get to see Ferrari end their championship drought, but Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, and the entire Ferrari team will be looking to honour his memory with a win and one-two finish this weekend.

However, a tight battle is developing for third in the world championship between Räikkönen (131 points), who finished third at the Hockenheimring, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (122 points), who completed a Mercedes one-two after it was looking like it was going to be a Ferrari one-two. However, both Daniel Ricciardo (106 points) and Max Verstappen (105 points) are not without a chance of third in the championship, although it was a mixed race for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, with Ricciardo, after starting from the back of the grid due to power-unit penalties managing to get his way back to sixth before a loss of power curtailed his race on Lap 28, while Verstappen finished fourth after trying a couple of different strategies unsuccessfully in the tricky conditions.

Behind the top six in the championship, there is a fierce six-way battle for seventh in the world championship, separated by just 24 points, between Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (52 points), McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (40 points), Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (39 points), Force India-Mercedes’ Sergio Pérez (30 points), Pérez’s teammate Esteban Ocon (29 points), and Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points). Overall, it is battle that is most likely going to be decided by the competitiveness of the respective teams over the remaining 10 rounds, but at the moment, Hülkenberg looks the driver to beat for seventh, with Magnussen looking strong to challenge him.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (310 points) have re-taken the lead from Ferrari (302 points), with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (211 points) asserting itself in third. Renault (80 points) has maintained its strong grasp of fourth in the standings ahead of a tight battle for fifth between Force India-Mercedes (59 points), Haas-Ferrari (59 points), and McLaren-Renault (48 points). They are followed by Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (20 points), Sauber-Ferrari (18 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points).

So, who will win in Hungary?

I expect Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer to be strong, like they were in Monaco, where they dominated both Ferrari and Mercedes, despite the MGU-K issues for Daniel Ricciardo. However, there was little to separate both Ferrari and Mercedes in Monaco, but with a few longer corners at the Hungaroring, I suspect Mercedes might be just ahead of Ferrari here, and given Lewis Hamilton’s record of five wins in Hungary, the most successful driver in Hungarian Grand Prix history, I think he could challenge both Ricciardo and Max Verstappen for the race victory.

In my opinion, I am going to tip Verstappen for the win in a Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer one-two, with Hamilton finishing in a close third.

 

2018 German GP – Preview

After a brilliant, and somewhat chaotic British Grand Prix at Silverstone blighted by a number of incidents, where Sebastian Vettel claimed just his second victory at the British Grand Prix, the first for Ferrari at Silverstone since 2011, and his fourth of the season despite a exceptional comeback drive from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to finish in a sensational second after being tagged by Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen on the opening lap, forcing him to last place, Round 11 of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim in Germany with the championship well and truly poised.

Vettel (171 points) leads the world championship by eight points over Hamilton (163 points), with Räikkönen (116 points) third in the standings after finishing third at the British Grand Prix despite receiving a 10-second time penalty for turning around Hamilton on the opening lap. Räikkönen leads a four-way battle for third in the championship separated by 23 points with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer driver Daniel Ricciardo (106 points), who finished fifth at Silverstone, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (104 points), who finished fourth, and Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (93 points), who unfortunately had to retire (classified in 15th) from the British Grand Prix due to brake issues after completing 46 of 52 laps after being in third position for much of the race.

Behind them is a tight battle for seventh in the world championship separated by just three points between Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (42 points), who finished an impressive sixth at Silverstone, McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (40 points), who finished eighth, and Haas-Ferrari driver Kevin Magnussen (39 points), who was ninth at the British Grand Prix, while Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points) is 10th in the championship despite crashing out following a collision with Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean at Copse after 37 laps in what was deemed a racing incident.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari (287 points) have extended their lead over Mercedes (267 points) to 20 points, while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (199 points) sit in an ever-comfortable third. Behind them, Renault (70 points) have consolidated fourth-place in the championship, while a titanic battle is forming for fifth in the championship between Haas-Ferrari (51 points), Force India-Mercedes (49 points), and McLaren-Renault (48 points), with only three points separating the three teams.

Then it is Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Sauber-Ferrari (16 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points) completing the standings.

So, who will win the German Grand Prix?

It is a hard one to pick given that the characteristics of both the Ferrari and the Mercedes should suit the Hockenheimring, as should Red Bull’s car, but if I was going to tip someone to win, it would either be Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton.

2018 British GP – Preview

After a strange, but interesting race at the Red Bull Ring where Max Verstappen won the Austria Grand Prix, Red Bull’s first win at their home race, the two Ferrari’s finished on the podium with Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Sebastian Vettel, and three key retirements in Valtteri Bottas (Hydraulics on Lap 13), Daniel Ricciardo (Exhaust on Lap 53), and Lewis Hamilton (Fuel pressure on Lap 62), with Hamilton retiring for the first time since the 2016 Malaysia Grand Prix, the race that proved decisive in handing Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s teammate at the time, his first and only world championship, ending a consecutive points-scoring streak of 33 races, an Formula One record, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to Silverstone to one of the jewels in the crown, the British Grand Prix.

Vettel (146 points) has re-taken the lead of the world championship by a single point ahead of Mercedes driver Hamilton (145 points), with Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (101 points) jumping up to third after his second-place finish in Austria, but is in close battle for third in the championship ahead of Ricciardo (96 points), Verstappen (93 points), and Hamilton’s teammate Bottas (92 points), with only nine points separating Räikkönen in third and Bottas in sixth in the championship.

Behind them in the championship, Kevin Magnussen (37 points) jumps up from 10th to seventh in the championship after finishing a brilliant fifth for Haas-Ferrari, and is ahead of Fernando Alonso (36 points) who finished eighth after another tough weekend for McLaren-Renault, with the two Renault’s in Nico Hülkenberg (34 points), and Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points) completing the top 10 in the championship after retiring, and finishing 12th respectively at the Red Bull Ring, not scoring any points.

In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari (247 points) have taken over the lead from Mercedes (237 points) by 10 points, with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (189 points) comfortably in third. Renault (62 points) are still in fourth after their double retirement, but a group of teams are starting to come after them, most notably Haas-Ferrari (49 points), McLaren-Renault (44 points), and Force India-Mercedes (42 points), while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Sauber-Ferrari (16 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points) look out of the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

So, who will win the British Grand Prix?

On paper, and quite clearly on paper, the Mercedes looks like the car to beat, and Lewis Hamilton is the man to beat, looking to become not only the first man to win the British Grand Prix six times, surpassing the records of Jim Clark and Alain Prost, but Hamilton is also looking to become the first man to win the British Grand Prix five years in a row, surpassing Clark’s record.

Ferrari, and Red Bull should be strong too, but the Mercedes will have too much for them, and barring reliability or mistakes, Hamilton will win the British Grand Prix in 2018, ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Kimi Räikkönen in third.

2018 French GP – Preview

After a dominant victory for Sebastian Vettel in Montreal, achieving his 50th win in Formula One career in the process, becoming just the fourth driver in Formula One history after Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Alain Prost to achieve this feat, and a disappointing fifth-place finish for Hamilton at the Canadian Grand Prix, Round Eight of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet in France for the first French Grand Prix since 2008, but the first one at the Circuit Paul Ricard since 1990, with only a point separating the two main championship contenders.

Vettel (121 points) leads the world championship for Ferrari by a single point over Hamilton (120 points) heading into the French Grand Prix. Vettel has been good without being dominant in 2018 with his victory in Canada being his third of the season (the most of any driver), but his first since the second race of the season in Bahrain, while Hamilton has been trying to find consistent form for Mercedes with perhaps his two best performances of the season so far being in Australia, where a win was taken away from him due to the circumstances of the virtual safety car back in the opening race of the season, and in Spain, where he won by a dominant 20.593 seconds over his teammate Valtteri Bottas to claim his second victory of the season in a Mercedes one-two in backing up the surprising victory he had in Azerbaijan.

However, beyond Vettel and Hamilton, the battle in the championship is starting to heat up beautifully for third in championship between Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Räikkönen, and perhaps Max Verstappen.

Bottas (86 points) has regained third in the championship after an impressive second-place finish in Montreal, making it four-straight podiums for the Finnish driver in Canada, while Ricciardo (84 points) slips to fourth for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer after finishing fourth.

He is ahead of Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (68 points) in the championship after finishing a disappointing sixth, but is still ahead of Ricciardo’s teammate Verstappen (50 points) in the standing, despite the Dutch driver having his cleanest, and best weekend of the season so far, finishing third from third on the grid after topping all of the practice sessions.

In terms of the battle towards the back-end of the top 10 in the championship, Fernando Alonso and Nico Hülkenberg are both locked on 32 points in seventh and eighth in the championship for McLaren-Renault, and Renault respectively, with Alonso ahead of Hülkenberg in the championship due to a fifth-place finish in Australia, compared to two sixth-place finishes for Hülkenberg.

Alonso will be coming into the French Grand Prix on a high after winning the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside Sébastien Buemi (Scuderia Toro Rosso driver 2009-2011), and Kazuki Nakajima (Williams driver 2007-2009), completing the second leg of the Triple Crown (Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Indianapolis 500) he is attempting to achieve after winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice (2006 and 2007), which has been a huge subject in regards to his future in Formula One, as well as the competitiveness of his McLaren.

Only time will tell in terms of what he does next.

Completing the top 10 in the championship is Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (24 points), and Haas-Ferrari driver Kevin Magnussen (19 points).

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (206 points), with a new power-unit coming in time for this weekend, leads by 17 points over Ferrari (189 points), with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (134 points) in a comfortable third in the championship. Behind them, Renault (56 points) have pulled away from McLaren-Renault (40 points) in the battle for fourth after a double-points finish for the French constructor in Canada, with Force India-Mercedes (28 points) sitting in sixth position ahead of a battle for seventh in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points) and Haas-Ferrari (19 points), while Sauber-Ferrari (12 points), and the hapless Williams-Mercedes (four points) complete the standings.

So, who will win the first French Grand Prix since 2008?

Looking at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the layout of the circuit suits Mercedes and Ferrari a little better on paper compared to Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, but I am not willing to pick a definitive winner given how tight this season has been, but I think it will either be Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, or Kimi Räikkönen lifting the winner’s trophy come Sunday.