Grand Prix of France – Race

The battle for the Drivers’ Championship continues with VER still 4 points ahead of HAM, and they line up for the race in the same order with their teammates filling the second row.
Provisional grid: VER, HAM, BOT, PER, SAI, GAS, LEC, NOR, ALO, OCO, VET, GIO, RUS, SCH, LAT, RAI, MAZ; no time from STR or TSU so they’ll need to appeal to the stewards

FIA confirmed STR and TSU are permitted to start

TSU’s incident in Qualifying (he put it in the wall in Q1) required a gearbox change change and that would have incurred a five grid spot penalty but because the work was done during parc ferme he has to start from the pit lane. [FIA]

SCH also put his car in the wall but he seems to have avoided needing a new gearbox, so he should be ok to start P15.

There has already been rain at the circuit today but the forecast is for this to clear ahead of the e start, with a lower (~20%) risk of showers during the race window. [BBC]
Current air temperature 25°C; track 33°C

Pit lane is open; VER and PER keen to head out as soon as the lights turn green
SAI locks up, runs off and flat spots his tyres – that’s going to make for an uncomfortable first stint, although most cars go to the grid on a different set i.e. not the ones they’ll use in the race
Radio from HAM, “Magic trimmed down too much” – presumably that means the new shroud is not quite how he’d like it

Watching the flags – there’s a really strong tailwind along the main straight, so will anyone get caught out and brake too late for Turn 1?

VER leads everyone (except TSU, who starts from the pit lane) around on the formation lap
Air temperature 25°C; track 34°C; risk of rain 10%
Grid forms up; TSU leaves his garage and heads to wait at pit exit

01/53: VER runs wide in Turn 2
HAM claims P1
VER rejoins P2

02: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, SAI, GAS, LEC, ALO, NOR, RIC
NOR runs wide in T1; RIC steals P9
TSU already up to P17
OCO looking to pass VET

03: HAM fastest lap 1:39.625
VER f/lap 1:39.613

04: VER f/lap 1:39.571
MAZ makes a forceful move on SCH to take P19
TSU takes P16 from LAT

05/53: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, SAI, GAS, LEC, ALO, RIC, NOR, VET, OCO, GIO, RAI, STR, TSU, LAT, RUS, MAZ, SCH

06: VER f/lap 1:39.408
BOT f/lap 1:39.293
Radio from HAM, “I don’t think these tyres are going to last as long as you’re expecting”

07: BOT f/lap 1:38.604
BOT is almost close enough to get DRS

08: RIC closing on ALO

10/53: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, SAI, GAS, LEC, ALO, RIC, NOR, VET, OCO, GIO, STR, RAI, TSU, LAT, RUS, MAZ, SCH

11: RIC dives inside ALO, takes P8
NOR follows through and steals P9

13: Radio from SAI, “A lot more (tyre) degradation than anyone expected”
VET takes P10 from ALO

14: RIC past LEC for P7
Lots of drivers complaining about their tyres, including those on the hard compound

15/53: LEC pits from P8; switches to hard tyres; rejoins P19

16: TSU and SCH pit

17: STR closing on OCO
RIC pits from P7; rejoins P17
OCO looking to pass teammate ALO

18: BOT pits from P3; hards go on; rejoins P4
SAI and GAS both out, as does RUS
RIC’s undercut worked; he’s ahead of SAI and GAS

19: VER pits; rejoins still just ahead of BOT

20/53: HAM pits; 2.2sec stop; rejoins alongside VER
VER leads into Turn 2
BOT f/lap 1:36.960

21: PER, VER, HAM, BOT, NOR, VET, STR, OCO, GIO, RAI, LEC, RIC, SAI, GAS, ALO
HAM and BOT both have DRS

22: LEC passes RAI for P10 as RIC closes on them

24: HAM and BOT still have DRS

25/53: PER pits from P1; rejoins P4
NOR pits too

26: RIC passes GIO for P9
LEC closing on OCO

Half distance

27: LEC takes P7
GAS takes P11 from GIO
RIC also passes OCO for P8

28: SAI and GAS now pass OCO

29: RIC passes LEC for P7
Radio from VER, “We can’t keep this up to the end of the race”
OCO and GIO pit
SAI past LEC for P8

30/53: VER, HAM, BOT, PER, VET, STR, RIC, SAI, LEC, NOR
NOR takes P9 from LEC
LEC locks up and GAS steals P10

31: Radio from BOT saying his tyres won’t last
ALO passes LEC

33: VER pits from P1; used medium tyres go on; rejoins P4

34: NOR passes teammate RIC for P7

35/53: HAM, BOT, PER, VER, VET, STR, NOR, RIC, SAI, GAS
NOR takes P6 from STR
VER f/lap 1:36.743
PER lets VER take P3

36: VER f/lap 1:36.404 – that’s 2sec quicker than HAM

37: GAS takes P8 from SAI
ALO passes SAI too

38: VET pits from P5
VER tries a couple of times but his radio is breaking up

39: LEC pits
Radio from HAM asking about VER’s pace; can’t hear Bono’s reply

40/53: HAM, BOT, VER, PER, NOR, RIC, GAS, ALO, SAI, VET

41: HAM laps LEC (P16)
Both HAM and BOT warned that their last 4 laps will be difficult
Radio from BOT, “I have no fronts anymore”

42: VER 2sec behind BOT; HAM is 4sec ahead of BOT

43: VER now has DRS behind BOT

44: BOT defends; VER closes; BOT brakes too late; VER steals P2

45/53: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, NOR, RIC, GAS, ALO, VET, SAI, STR, TSU, RUS, OCO, GIO, LEC, RAI, LAT, SCH, MAZ
Angry radio message from BOT complaining they didn’t listen to him when he said it would be a 2-stop race

46: PER now just over 1sec behind BOT

47: BOT locks up but PER still just outside DRS range
VER 5sec behind HAM

48: Radio from HAM reporting he hit a kerb
Radio for HAM, “Gap is 3.6”; “Leave me to it”

49: PER now has DRS to help him attack BOT
PER takes P3
Surely Mercedes will now pit BOT for a fastest lap?

50/53: HAM, VER, PER, BOT, NOR, RIC, GAS, ALO, VET, STR, SAI, TSU, RUS, OCO, GIO, LEC, RAI, LAT, SCH, MAZ

51: Why hasn’t BOT pitted?
RUS takes P12 from TSU

52: Incident involving PER and BOT under investigation!
VER closes up and takes P1 – you can hear the crowd cheer

53 = final lap: BOT is nearly 50sec clear of NOR – why didn’t they pit him? (Was BOT sulking and refusing to pit?)

VER takes the chequered flag and fastest lap

Provisional result: VER, HAM, PER, BOT, NOR, RIC, GAS, ALO, VET, STR; SAI, RUS, TSU, OCO, GIO, LEC, RAI, LAT, SCH, MAZ
DNF: none
Fastest lap: VER, 1:36.743

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]

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