As Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto expected, Scuderia Ferrari struggled in the 2019 French GP. The Prancing Horse heads back from Paul Ricard with a podium for Leclerc and P5 for Vettel, in an uneventful race.
French GP: Ferrari’s weakness
Saturday had already proven difficult for the Prancing Horse. Issues struck Sebastian Vettel’s at times unreliable SF90, with an oil pump malfunction. The 4-time World Champion ended up starting in P7 in this French GP, a hostile race for Ferrari. When the lights went out, it was easy for the Silver Arrows to retain the front positions, held right until the end. Even Charles Leclerc, who charged into Valtteri Bottas at the late stages of the race, had no way of overtaking the Finn. Sebastian Vettel had unfortunately racked up too big an interval from Max Verstappen, in P4, to be in contention for the podium.
Formula 1 turns boring
All in all, even setting aside Ferrari’s unenthusiastic performance, the French GP is yet another plain, banal race in this Formula 1 Championship. With the Silver Arrows in a league of their own, the only chance of seeing a close fight on track lies in the midfield teams. Renault-powered cars, specifically, put on a show for the French crowd today. McLaren, renault and Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo really delivered a “race within the race”. The Woking team had impressed throughout the whole weekend, with both Norris and Sainz qualifying P5 and P6. An equally competitive Renault works team saw Ricciardo and Hulkenberg on a roll, with defensive and offensive action. “Rustproof” Kimi Raikkonen ramps up the field after a mediocre qualifying.
Unfortunately, Norris suffered hydraulic problems which hindered his performance, but made the show even more interesting. That is, until race direction gave two 5-second time penalties to Ricciardo for the drama unleashed at the last lap. Race direction applies the rules, which are given and determined, whether we like it or not. This case was clear as water. However, Fomula 1 might be losing the appeal it previously had with avid motorsport fanatics, who may turn to newer, more entertaining categories. And teams might end up doing the same.