Venue: Circuit Paul Ricard
Lewis Hamilton’s dominance in Formula One unsurprisingly makes him a 9/10 favourite for the French Grand Prix.
Those odds are shorter than the 13/10 he was offered for the last race in Canada, which proved a shrewd bet, albeit thanks to the intervention of the stewards.
Despite Mercedes heading to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with a power-unit upgrade, it was Ferrari, and Sebastian Vettel in particular, who stole the show – in more ways than one.
The characteristics of the track – long straights into tight, heavy-braking corners – played into the characteristics of a Ferrari that operates on low drag but has been found wanting for downforce, hence its struggles around venues where there are numerous corners, such as Monaco.
Vettel ended Mercedes’ monopoly on pole position by beating Hamilton to the top spot on the grid by more than two-tenths of a second, and then for the first 47 laps was on course for victory, although was under intense pressure from the Briton.
That pressure resulted in Vettel making a slight mistake into Turn Three on lap 48, forcing him on to the grass.
Upon returning to the track, an admittedly out-of-control Vettel cut across Hamilton, who was poised to dive down the German’s right but was forced to brake otherwise he would have ended up in a wall.
Applying the letter of the law, the stewards deemed Vettel to have rejoined the track in an unsafe manner and handed out the least severe penalty possible, with five seconds added to his elapsed race time.
As Hamilton finished within five seconds of Vettel, he took the win, sparking anger and frustration from the four-time champion as he parked his car in the wrong place, stormed off to Ferrari’s hospitality unit and seemed set to ignore the podium ceremony.
When coaxed into returning, he removed the number one sign from in front of Hamilton’s car and placed it in front of where his car should have been, and vice versa with the number two.
How the Canadian Grand Prix finished:
1 Hamilton (Mercedes), 2 Vettel (Ferrari)*, 3 Leclerc (Ferrari), 4 Bottas (Mercedes), 5 Verstappen (Red Bull), 6 Ricciardo (Renault), 7 Hulkenberg (Renault), 8 Gasly (Red Bull), 9 Stroll (Racing Point), 10 Kvyat (Toro Rosso), 11 Sainz (McLaren), 12 Perez (Racing Point), 13 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 14 Grosjean (Haas), 15 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 16 Russell (Williams), 17 Magnussen (Haas), 18 Kubica (Williams), DNF Albon (Toro Rosso), DNF Norris (McLaren)
* denotes a five-second penalty
The uproar that has followed has at least added some spice to a waning F1 season, and will likely have stirred something inside Vettel, who at 4/1 to win at the Paul Ricard circuit represents good value in the French Grand Prix odds.
The French Grand Prix returned to the calendar last season after a 10-year absence, with Paul Ricard hosting for the first time since 1990.
The layout is not too dissimilar to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as it possesses long straights that will suit Ferrari and only one twisty section that plays into Mercedes’ hands.
Although Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc is 9/2, the Monegasque has only once this season finished ahead of his more experienced colleague, leaving the former as the way to go.
Red Bull seemingly require both the Mercedes and Ferrari duo to all retire, so Max Verstappen’s 14/1 is not tempting, especially as he was only fifth in Montreal behind the leading quartet after a run of 11 races inside the top four.
As in Canada, Valtteri Bottas is 5/2 but after a nip-and-tuck battle between the Finn and Hamilton over the first five races, the latter now seems to have the edge, leaving Vettel the frontrunner in our French Grand Prix betting tips.
Past French Grand Prix results:
2018 Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen, Raikkonen
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