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Leclerc and Ferrari out to continue resurgence at French GP

21/07/22

Red Bull holds a 56-point lead in the constructors' championship.

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc have history on their side as they aim to continue their recent run of form and eat into Red Bull and Max Verstappen's leads at the top of Formula 1® championships at the French Grand Prix.

The Scuderia have won the last two races, Carlos Sainz claiming a maiden F1® win at Silverstone before Leclerc ended a seven-race drought with victory in Austria.

Despite those successes, Red Bull still hold a 56-point lead in the constructors' championship, while Verstappen is 38 points ahead of Leclerc.

Verstappen's lead would be less emphatic had Sainz not suffered an engine failure in the closing stages at the Red Bull Ring last time out, denying Ferrari a well-deserved one-two.

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The spectre of reliability concerns looms for Ferrari heading into the race at Circuit Paul Ricard, which will host the 12th grand prix of a season in which they have had six DNFs.

Yet Ferrari have enjoyed a lot of success in France. They have the most poles and wins at the French Grand Prix (both 17), though only two of those triumphs have come at Le Castellet.

Red Bull had claimed six straight wins prior to the recent Ferrari riposte and will have their sights set on strengthening their grip on both championships with a repeat of last year's double podium, when Verstappen prevailed and Sergio Perez finished third.

With Paul Ricard a circuit defined in part by long straights, Red Bull should again be strong in France, but it is also a circuit that should suit a Mercedes team on a run of four consecutive podiums.

Mercedes have rarely been close to Red Bull or Ferrari in a disappointing season. However, with its smooth surface and high-speed corners, Paul Ricard could allow the Silver Arrows a repeat of their performance at Silverstone, when Lewis Hamilton appeared set to challenge for victory until a safety car left him to settle for third.

Should he upset the odds to prevail in the south of France, Hamilton will add more history to his glittering CV.


CAN MERCEDES END WAIT?

Mercedes' dominance has come to an abrupt end in 2022 and they are in the rare position of still not having a win after 11 grands prix.

Paul Ricard likely represents one of their best chances to end their wait. If it is Hamilton who triumphs, he would move on to 99 career points at the French Grand Prix, surpassing the record of 98 set by Michael Schumacher.

More significantly, Hamilton would also break Schumacher's record for the most consecutive seasons with at least one race win. Victory for Hamilton would make it 16 seasons in a row for the Briton, Schumacher produced a grand prix success in 15 successive seasons between 1992 and 2006.


OCON EYES HOME JOY

Alpine's Esteban Ocon is enjoying an excellent season. He has 52 points to his name at the halfway point, having collected 74 across 22 races last season.

One place he has yet to taste success is at his home race. A first-lap collision with compatriot Pierre Gasly ended his hopes when the French Grand Prix returned in 2018. Last season, he finished a disappointing 14th.

Should he get himself in the top 10 this time around, he would become the first French driver to earn points in the French Grand Prix with a French team (Alpine) and a French engine (Renault) since Erik Comas in 1992 for Ligier team (Renault engine – two points finishing fifth).

With the race reportedly under threat for 2023, this could be Ocon's last chance for some time to score home points.


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