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4 Things We Learned From The 2022 French Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and George Russell
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Ferrari’s championship hopes blew up in smoke at the 2022 French Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc ending up in the wall from the lead of the race while Carlos Sainz was forced to make his way through the grid from P20 after taking engine penalties. Max Verstappen and Red Bull picked up the pieces after Ferrari dropped the ball to take his seventh victory of the season, while Mercedes picked up their first double podium of the year, with Hamilton and Russell finishing in P2 and P3, respectively.

Here are the four things we learned from the 2022 French Grand Prix.

1. Ferrari and Charles blow another victory


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In what is becoming a recurring theme in the 2022 F1 season, Ferrari and Charles Leclerc blew another golden opportunity of a victory at the French Grand Prix despite having the fastest car on the track. This time it was a driver error rather than mechanical faults or poor strategy that cost the scarlet Scuderia the top step of the podium, with Leclerc losing the rear end of the car while going through the Double Droite du Beasset and crashing into the barriers from the lead.

The Monegasque driver has been racing at an extraordinarily high level throughout the season, especially during qualifying. However, in a race for the championship against a near-faultless rival, Leclerc cannot even afford a single mistake. Even on bad weekends, Verstappen ends up with a P2 finish, and following the Dutchman’s win at Le Castellet, he has opened a 63-point gap over Leclerc in the championship, more or less sealing the title in round 12.

2. Ferrari suffer another strategy meltdown


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Although the Leclerc crash was a stinging blow to Ferrari’s championship hopes, the prancing horse also lost another opportunity for a podium due to a few questionable strategic decisions. Having started in P20, Carlos Sainz displayed the incredible raw pace of the Ferrari as he mowed through the field to climb into the top three.

However, just as Sainz was passing Sergio Perez to get into P3, the Spaniard was called into the pits to do another pit-stop to serve his 5-second penalty for an unsafe release, effectively removing any hope of a podium. Although Sainz was on the medium tyres compared to the rest of the field on the hards, with just 11 laps to go, it may have been a wise decision to leave him out for longer and see how long the tyres can last to secure the podium place.

3. Mercedes troubles are firmly behind them


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For all their troubles in the 2022 F1 season, Mercedes have picked up the slack over the last two months and are finishing on the podium with regularity. Although the pace on a Saturday is still not quite there compared to the top two teams, the Silver Arrow comes into its own on race day, with Mercedes picking up their first double podium in 2022 at the French Grand Prix.

Both Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Russell, aced their race plan at Circuit Paul Ricard as they made moves on Sergio Perez during the Grand Prix to take home another massive haul of points for the seven-time world champions.

4. Quote of the weekend


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Although it was agonizing to see Leclerc retire from another race and throw away a victory, it was heartening to hear the Monegasque driver take responsibility for his mistake and own up to the error.

“A mistake – my mistake,” said Leclerc. “I think I am performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep doing these mistakes then it is pointless to perform at a very high level. I am losing too many points. I think seven at Imola, 25 here — because honestly we probably were the strongest car on track today — so if we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the season, I will know where they are coming from.

It is unacceptable. I just need to get on top of those things.”


[Featured Image Credit: Pirelli USA]