This weekend will mark the return of the French Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar. It will be the 58th edition of the illustrious Formula 1 race, but first one since 2008. The race will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 24th, 2018.
It has been a tremendous Formula 1 season so far, with an incredibly close race between the Championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The two drivers are currently separated by a single point and have both made their mark on the 2018 Formula 1 season.
The French Grand Prix makes its Formula 1 return, reintroducing a race which often provided a lot of thrills and momentum swings in Formula 1 Championship races. I have prepared an overview of the latest developments in Formula 1 season, as well as some stats and advice for all you Formula 1 punters.
The French Grand Prix History
Grand Prix motor racing originated in France, making the French Grand Prix the oldest organized motor racing Grand Prix, open to international competition. The name “Grand Prix” (meaning Grand Prize) was created, referring to the 45,000-franc money reward for the winner of the French Grand Prix.
The first French Grand Prix was held in 1906, when the races were still held on public roads and alternated between cities every year. In 1926, the event finally moved to Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, the first dedicated motor racing circuit in France.
The French Grand Prix became the part of Formula 1 Championship in 1950. The inaugural race was won by the famous Argentinian driver, Juan Manuel Fangio. Since then French Grand Prix has been a part of the Formula 1 calendar 57 previous times. 2008 was the last year the Formula 1 French Grand Prix was held.
The race was taken off the Formula 1 calendar due to the disagreements about promotion rights, circuit investments and the overall financial situation. 2018 will be the comeback year of the French Grand Prix to the Formula 1 Championship since a contract was signed with Circuit Paul Ricard.
When it comes to past winners, it is no surprise that German driver Michael Schumacher holds the record of 8 French Grand Prix wins, winning the race in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
The second most successful driver at the French Grand Prix is the methodical Frenchman, Alain Prost who won the race 6 times (1981, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1993). The next closest record holders are a duo of Juan Manuel Fangio and Nigel Mansell, which have won the race 4 times each.
Ferrari reigns supreme in the constructor wins at the French Grand Prix. The Prancing Horse has won the race record 17 times, making it the most successful constructor to ever compete at the French Grand Prix. The closest competitors are Williams with 8 wins and now-defunct Lotus with 7 wins.
Since the French Grand Prix has been on a decade-long hiatus from 2008, there are very few active drivers who have had a chance to compete in it. Only 4 active drivers on the grid have raced in the French Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso are the only active drivers to have won the French Grand Prix in the past, the Finn winning in 2007 and the Spaniard in 2005.
The Season So Far
2018 French Grand Prix is the eighth race on the Formula 1 Championship calendar. The previous 7 races have provided great competition and amazing racing, especially at the top of the grid. As the situation stands now, Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel holds a one-point lead over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 Championship Driver Standings.
Sebastian Vettel and Ferarri have started the season strong, winning the two opening races in Melbourne and Bahrain (Australian and Bahrain Grand Prix). Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo stormed to an unexpected victory in the Chinese Grand Prix in a chaotic race.
It was expected that Mercedes would storm back. After all, they have won the last 4 Formula 1 Championships as a constructor. Lewis Hamilton had a sudden burst of luck on the streets of Baku in Azerbaijan, as he stole his victory of the season. He followed that up with a dominant showing in Barcelona, winning the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix.
As the Monaco Grand Prix rolled around, there was a feeling that Red Bull have stepped up and their car was now on par with the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes. This all came to light when Daniel Ricciardo won the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, even though he was faced with engine problems in the race.
2018 Grand Prix of Canada was expected to be a coming out party for Mercedes in 2018 season, as this was a track they have dominated as of late. A track which is notorious for favoring the teams with the best power unit was supposed to suit Mercedes. None of it came through, as Mercedes failed to bring their engine upgrades to Montreal and Ferrari demonstrated a dominant package in a Sebastian Vettel win.
The 2018 Formula 1 season now enters their first triple-header on the calendar ever. With 3 Grand Prix races in the upcoming 3 weeks, the pressure on the teams and drivers will be immense, as there is little time to work on improving the cars and making modifications to the current packages.
This is why the upcoming race in the French Grand Prix will be the key to a successful triple-header since it will set the tempo for the following two weekends.
Stats to Keep in Mind
Here are some of the stats you should keep in mind when deciding to bet on the 2018 French Grand Prix:
- The last Formula 1 French Grand Prix held at Circuit Paul Ricard was in 1990. The event was won by Ferrari’s Alain Prost.
- This will be the first time that Mercedes Benz will compete in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
- Lewis Hamilton already holds the record for most pole positions in Formula 1 with 74. He will be aiming for his 75th pole position on Saturday, June 23rd.
- Circuit Paul Ricard is a 5.84-kilometer racing circuit characterized by high-speed corners and an enormous 1.7-kilometer straight, known as the “Mistral Straight”.
- If either Kimi Raikkonen or Valtteri Bottas wins the 2018 French Grand Prix, it will be the 50th win by a Finnish driver in Formula 1 history.
- Only 4 drivers on the grid have previously competed at the French Grand Prix (Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel) but none of them have raced at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
Race Winner and Podium Betting Preview
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has been set as the primary favorite to win the 2018 French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard, with the odds of 7 to 10. If the Mercedes upgrade is anywhere close to the ones they have introduced in the previous season, this might be a start of a dominating streak for Mercedes this Formula 1 season.
On the other hand, Ferrari seemed to have hit their stride in Canada with a dominating performance on a circuit that was also supposed to favor Mercedes’ car. If we take into account that the race at Circuit Paul Ricard is expected to be in sunny and hot conditions, the type of weather where Ferrari has excelled in the previous seasons.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is the second favorite to win the 2018 French Grand Prix at 2 to 1 odds. The German has been in terrific form this season and this might be an excellent opportunity to widen the gap in the Formula 1 Championship Standings to Lewis Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas is the third favorite at 7 to 1 odds. This is mostly due to the potential of Mercedes car, rather than Finn’s driving performances. He has struggled to keep up with his faster teammate Hamilton but still managed to put in some steady performances.
Very few expect either of the Red Bull drivers to win the 2018 French Grand Prix since their cars are powered by an inferior Renault power unit, something that will hurt them at the engine-heavy Circuit Paul Ricard. Still, very few can doubt Daniel Ricciardo’s and Max Verstappen’s race craft.
Both Red Bull drivers have pulled off some amazing drives in the recent years, and Red Bull is one of the best teams when it comes to race strategy. Ricciardo and Verstappen have put 5 fastest in-race laps in the first 7 races of the season (Ricciardo 3, Verstappen 2), demonstrating their race pace. They are both rated at 10 to 1 odds to win the race.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has struggled in races this season and that is reflected in the 16 to 1 odds for him to win the 2018 French Grand Prix. Kimi is the elder-statesman of the grid and there are rumors he might be retiring at the end of the season.
All of the other drivers have little or no chance to win the 2018 French Grand Prix.
In addition to that, I think that one of the Red Bull drivers will break through in the race and end up on the podium. My pick would be Daniel Ricciardo, who is one of the best breakers in Formula 1, which is extremely important at tracks with long straights and high-speed corners. The odds for Ricciardo to finish on a podium are set at 5 to 4.