Paul Henman formula1 French Grand Prix – Race

French Grand Prix – Race

Well, this could be interesting – the official FIA timing chart shows 32 rows even though there’s just 20 cars on the grid; hmmm, I hope they’ll fix that before the race starts! (Yes, a couple of minutes later it’s ok)
The pit lane is open, so drivers can do installation laps and practice starts before taking their place on the dummy grid.

Going into Qualifying, SAI and MAG knew penalties for engine changes would put them on the back row.
Grid: LEC, VER, PER, HAM, NOR, RUS, ALO, TSU, RIC, OCO, BOT, VET, ALB, GAS, STR, ZHO, SCH, LAT, SAI*, MAG* (*grid place penalties applied)

It’s HAM’s 300th Grand Prix, but he’s still struggling for pace
Air temperature 30°C; track 60°C – the heat is going to make tyre management even more important than usual

Anthems – does the singer have 44 (HAM’s number) on her shoulder?
I’m not sure what’s happening with the FIA’s data – first it said the track temp was 40°C, then 60 and now it’s at 55 – all we know for sure is it’s really hot!

LEC leads everyone away on the formation lap
Everyone’s starting on medium compound tyres except BOT, GAS and SAI are on hards
Two-stoppers are likely to pit around laps 13-20 and 34-40, and one-stoppers will be around 18-27 if they start on mediums

01/53: LEC gets a good start
HAM takes P3 from PER before Turn 1
ALO up to P5
OCO hits TSU and spins him around – yellow flag while TSU recovers

02: LEC, VER, HAM, PER, ALO, RUS, NOR, RIC, OCO, STR, VET, ALB, MAG, SCH, GAS, SAI, BOT, LAT, ZHO, TSU
MAG started P20 – he’s already P13
MAG now battling with ALB over P12

03: LEC fastest lap 1:38.127
DRS now enabled
Incident involving OCO and TSU under investigation
VER has DRS behind LEC

04: VER f/lap 1:38.117
OCO given 5-sec penalty for causing a collision
SAI takes P14 from SCH

05/53: LEC, VER, HAM, PER, RUS, ALO, NOR, RIC, OCO*, STR, MAG, SAI, ALB, SCH, GAS, BOT, LAT, ZHO, TSU (*OCO has 5-sec penalty to serve)
LEC 1:38.088
PER closing on HAM

06: VER under 0.5sec behind LEC
LEC’s rear looks twitchy
VER looks around the outside of LEC but the Ferrari stays ahead

07: PER has 2nd warning for exceeding track limits

09: MAG making an early pit stop; hard tyres go on

10/53: LEC, VER, HAM, PER, RUS, ALO, NOR, OCO*, RIC, STR
VER still has DRS behind LEC
STR and ZHO pit; hard tyres for both

11: RUS starting to reel in PER

12: Radio for SAI proposing “Plan B”; SAI doesn’t sound overly excited

13: SAI closing up on STR… and takes P10
Pit window opens for 2-stoppers

14: LEC has opened just enough of a gap so VER no longer has DRS
But there’s graining on LEC’s front right tyre

15/53: LEC, VER, HAM, PER, RUS, ALO, NOR, OCO*, RIC, SAI, STR, VET, ALB, GAS, LAT, BOT, MAG, SCH, ZHO, TSU

17: VER pits from P2; hards go on; rejoins P7, behind NOR
SAI takes P9 from RIC

18: VER passes NOR for P6
Yellow flag – LEC is in the tyre wall!
Safety Car deployed
HAM, PER, … everyone pitting
LEC is out of the car

19[SC]: Slow stop for SAI, and then an unsafe release into the path of ALB
Replay shows LEC lost the rear and just slid across the run-off area and into the tyre wall – sounds like a throttle problem
TSU is in the garage; retires

20/53[SC]: VER, HAM, PER, RUS, ALO, NOR, RIC, SAI, OCO, STR, ALB, GAS, VET, BOT, LAT, ZHO, MAG, SCH; out: TSU, LEC
SC in at the end of this lap

21: SAI dives inside RIC into Turn 1, stealing P7
SAI now passes NOR for P6

22: VER f/lap 1:37.701
Yellow flag – SCH was passing ZHO but the Haas rear wheel tagged ZHO’s front wing; SCH spins, recovers

23: ZHO pits for a new front wing

24: SAI given 5-sec penalty for unsafe release

25/53: VER, HAM, PER, RUS, SAI*, ALO, NOR, RIC, OCO, STR
Incident involving SCH and ZHO under investigation
PER has DRS behind HAM
SAI has DRS behind RUS

26: Radio for SAI telling him he’s got a 5-sec stop-and-go penalty; SAI corrects his engineer!
ZHO given 5-sec penalty for causing a collision

Half-distance

27: Radio for ALO telling him NOR is closing a little; ALO says that’s ok because it’ll kill NOR’s tyres

29: VER f/lap 1:37.696
GAS dives inside ALB but out-brakes himself and runs wide; drops from P11 to P15

30/53: VER, HAM, PER, RUS, SAI*, ALO, NOR, RIC, OCO, STR
VER f/lap 1:37.695
Did SAI cut Turn 3?
SAI around RUS to take P4

31: VER f/lap 1:37.491

32: HAM runs wide at Turn 2; stays just ahead of PER

33: SAI’s front tyres looking nasty – almost time for a 2nd stop… although he’s got mediums waiting for him, so Ferrari will probably want to wait

34: LAT closing on GAS as the AlphaTauri is stuck behind MAG
OCO right on RIC’s rear wing

35/53: VER, HAM, PER, SAI*, RUS, ALO, NOR, RIC, OCO, STR, ALB, VET, BOT, MAG, GAS, LAT, SCH, ZHO; out: TSU, LEC

36: Radio for STR, “We need to be careful with..”; “Yes, yes, leave me alone”
GAS takes P14 from MAG
BOT pits from P13; rejoins P17

38: SAI still closing on PER, despite his tired tyres
LAT runs wide; recovers

39: Replay shows LAT was battling with MAG; dives inside the Haas; the make contact and LAT spins

40/53: VER, HAM, PER, SAI*, RUS, ALO, NOR, RIC, OCO, STR
MAG pits; retires
VET makes a clean move inside ALB for P11
SAI discussing pitting; team want him to stay out but SAI wants to pit; told to stay out

41: SAI makes a move on PER; wheel to wheel; SAI squeezes past to claim P3 … but at the same time the team tell him to box!

42: RUS dives inside PER but pushed PER off; PER had to cut the corner

43: SAI pits from P3 – what???? He has to serve his penalty, so he rejoins P9 – that’s a crazy decision!

44: SAI passes OCO and RIC – he’s up to P7
Radio from RUS trying to make the point he was alongside in the corner and PER should give up P3

45/53: VER, HAM, PER, RUS, ALO, NOR, SAI, RIC, OCO, STR, VET, ALB, GAS, SCH, BOT, ZHO; out: LAT, MAG, TSU, LEC
SAI 1:36.242
No further investigation for the RUS/PER incident

46: SAI takes P6 from NOR
OCO around RIC for P8

47: RUS has DRS behind PER

48: SAI f/lap 1:35.852
RUS all over PER’s tail

49: Yellow flag – ZHO has stopped off to the side of the track but that’s a dangerous position so expect a SC

50/53: VER, HAM, PER, RUS, SAI, ALO, NOR, OCO, RIC, STR, VET, GAS, ALB, SCH, BOT; out: ZHO, LAT, MAG, TSU, LEC
VSC deployed
Radio from VER asking if he can make a free stop
VSC ending… and RUS catches PER napping!

51: PER now has DRS behind RUS
SAI is over 16sec behind PER, so he won’t catch them before the end of the race

52: SAI f/lap 1:35.781
PER claims RUS went off-track at Turn 6

53 = final lap: PER has DRS again
PER claiming RUS off-track again

VER takes the chequered flag
HAM P2
RUS P3, just ahead of tattle-tail PER
Was there contact between teammates STR and VET on the final turn?

Provisional result: VER, HAM, RUS, PER, SAI*, ALO, NOR, OCO, RIC, STR; VET, GAS, ALB, BOT, SCH
DNF: ZHO, LAT, MAG, TSU, LEC
*Fastest lap: SAI
(SAI also got Driver of the Day but that’s little consolation)

HAM said his drink feed wasn’t working so he lost about 3kg during the race!

Hungarian GP next weekend is the last one before the mandatory summer break.

[2022 calendar and line-up]

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