Leclerc, Gasly, heat… five questions before the French Grand Prix

DESCRIPTION – Several problems make it possible to imagine a spirited race at the Paul-Ricard circuit this Sunday.

At Le Castellet,

Will Charles Leclerc be able to resist at the front of the race?

Brilliant pole man on Saturday, Charles Leclerc owes a proud light to Carlos Sainz. The Monegasque never stopped repeating his gratitude to his luxury teammate, whom he came to thank warmly in the mixed zone. The ideal draft provided by the Spaniard allowed Leclerc to play two-on-one in front of the threat Verstappen. It will be reversed on Sunday, with Sainz relegated to the back of the grid (see below). Second and third, the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez, in turn, will have the numerical superiority. But that’s not all: “It will be very difficult to limit them, especially on the straights where they have the advantage“Warned Leclerc, who is aiming for a sixth career success. The battle should be fierce along the Mistral straight (1.8km), open to DRS, up to the next chicane (turns 8 and 9). Driven by a public clearly won over to his cause, “Carletto” will also hope for the absence of a reliability failure in his Ferrari, as all too often this season.

Can Ocon and Gasly save their weekend at home?

Ocon P10 and Gasly P14. It was certainly not the starting idea for the two tricolors on the plateau for their potential final Grand Prix in France. And again the two Normans climbed two ranks in the penalty shootout. If Ocon (Alpine) can reasonably imagine a new entry in the points after his fine 5th place in Austria, it will be complicated for Gasly. Not clumsy in practice, the Alpha Tauri driver lost all his emotions in “qualifying”, where his failure in Q1 left him speechless. “We were comfortable in the top 10 and since this Saturday morning we have had a lot of difficulties and we really don’t know why, he regretted at the microphone Canal+. We will have to try to go up tomorrow, but it will be difficult, we will start from a distance.At a distance and in the traffic at Le Castellet, where it is never easy to overtake.

Pierre Gasly had a very complicated Saturday at Le Castellet. SARAH MEYSSONNIER / PANORAMIC

Can Sainz consider one together again ?

Freed from a weight since his first career victory (Silverstone), the Spaniard walks his positivity into the fold. The Madrilenian’s great servant in Leclerc this Saturday knew he was condemned to the back of the net due to an engine change. To get better? 19th on the grid, the Ferrari driver has to play with traffic to get back into the points first before aiming high. “I hope he can join us at the frontsaid a grateful Leclerc on Saturday. Not impossible given the pace Sainz showed all weekend at Le Castellet (best time in free practice 2). “I understand my car better and better“Assures the interested party, who hopes not to accumulate another failure after Austria, where his car caught fire when he was on his way to a new podium. Recent history and one man in particular give him reason to hope. Sergio Perez, his second at Silverstone after starting in last position. In 2020, the Mexican had done even better by winning his first GP in Sakhir after finishing last.

Can Hamilton open his disc in 2022?

In fourth place on the grid, Lewis Hamilton will find it difficult to win this Sunday. Even with all his good will, the British pilot is still seriously lagging behind the front arrows. Its silver arrow should make it suffer by comparison, especially on the straight side of the Mistral. “We lose a lot of time in a straight line, almost half a second“Blowed Sir Lewis in the mixed zone. However, the circumstances of the race can play in his favor and why not aim for a fourth podium in a row.

Will the heat play a role?

It gets hot at the self-proclaimed “Summer Run”. 35°C is expected at Le Castellet this Sunday, between 55°C and 60°C on the course. The pilots’ bodies will be put to the test, the tires too. It will be necessary to monitor the teams’ strategies at one or more stops to fill the 53 lanes on Paul-Ricard’s tarmac. “Tire degradation is less debatable since the new tires, but this weekend it will be more significantpredicts Mario Isola, competition director of Pirelli, the exclusive tire supplier. The reliability of the single-seaters will also be subject to conditions, starting with the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz, which have not always been polished since the start of the season.

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