Long and relatively flat, Circuit Paul Ricard is known as a track that features a little bit of everything, corners wise, which is why it is used by many of the teams as a test track during the offseason. The combination of high-, medium- and low-speed corners, along with wonderful weather due to its elevation (which ranges from 1,339 feet to 1,447 above sea level) have made it the go-to circuit in the winter.
The two signature features of the track are the long straight (called "Mistral") and its "blue" and "red" run-off zones. Over the years, the Mistral has been shortened from 1.1 miles to the current 0.62, and some of the more severe high-speed curves have been eliminated. There are 13 turns along the 3.6-mile circuit and there will be only two DRS zones for this race.
How to watch the Lenovo Grand Prix of France
- Date: Sunday, July 24
- Location: Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, Var, France
- Time: 9 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch for
High-speed, high-g corners, such as Signes and the Beausset bend, make this a challenging track for the drivers. The first DRS zone, from the exit of Turn 7 to the entrance at Turn 8, and the second and final one, from the exit of Turn 14 to the entrance of Turn 1, should also prove interesting.
This track is great on tires, so tire wear will not be an issue. Obviously, this all hinges on what compounds Pirelli brings to Paul Ricard, and if the soft "reds" prove to be super soft, then teams will opt more for the mediums and even the hards for long stings, as it is possible to win this race using a one-stop strategy.
On the back foot
Red Bull Racing: Perhaps a bit harsh to put RBR in this category, particularly with Max Verstappen finishing second at Austria, but this goes beyond Verstappen's finish. Red Bull just never seemed to find their rhythm during the race. For the first time this season, it seemed Ferrari had out-foxed them on strategy at Austria. The likelihood of that continuing is slim to none: Every time Red Bull Racing has looked down and out one race, they have bounced back even stronger the next. Expect Verstappen to be leading Leclerc at Paul Ricard, or be right on his rear wing.
Running in place
McLaren: They fall into this category only because of the controversy over what is going on with Daniel Ricciardo and his seat. The Alex Palou issue at the IndyCar Series illuminates the fact that McLaren may be looking to move on from Ricciardo, who finished ninth last time out in one of his better races for McLaren, and it could be that the only way Palou ends up leaving Chip Ganassi Racing is for an F1 ride with McLaren.
Best foot forward
Alpine: A fifth for Esteban Ocon at Austria, coupled with a 10th by Fernando Alonso, has kept the team's momentum building. They may not be ready to start challenging for podium finishes just yet, but they are moving in the right direction.
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc got exactly the race he wanted, and needed, at Austria. Not only did he win, he did so in commanding fashion by passing Max Verstappen, and more than once, for the lead. Granted, Leclerc was on fresh rubber and Verstappen on worn shoes, but that is besides the point. Leclerc solidified that he is Ferrari's best hope at silverware on race day and at season's end. An engine failure meant Carlos Sainz Jr. was unable to challenge, but when things were going well at Austria, they were going great. Ferrari may take an engine penalty at France on Sainz, meaning a start at the back of the field could be likely, but he has shown he can carve up the turkeys in front of him with the best of them.
Mercedes: A trio of podiums (Canada, Britain, Austria) has filled Lewis Hamilton's sails. Combined with what has been a very steady and heady campaign so far from George Russell, and there is no reason to think that Mercedes is going to slow down soon. It looks like they have saved their season, but the jury is still out on whether they are ready to compete for race wins on pace rather than something unusual or unfortunate happening to the Bulls and the Scuderia.