2022 F1 French Grand Prix: The Big Preview

The French Grand Prix returns this weekend as Formula 1 heads to the Circuit Paul Ricard.

Circuit Paul Ricard's position on the F1 calendar has recently become contentious and with FIA representatives reportedly already in advanced talks to bring South Africa's Kyalami Circuit back to the calendar, France could soon lose its Grand Prix.

It is the on-track action that we'll be focusing on though, with RealSport101's Harry Smith on hand to run you through this weekend's action.

Last Time: Austrian Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc claimed victory from outside of pole position for the first-time in his Formula 1 career two weekends ago as he managed throttle-pedal issues to fend off Max Verstappen in a dramatic Austrian Grand Prix.

It was the championship leader, Verstappen, who got away well from pole but there was drama on the other side of the Red Bull garage as Sergio Perez was sent into the gravel following contact from George Russell.

The pace advantage held by the Ferrari quickly became apparent and Leclerc made the move for the lead of the race on Lap 12, darting down the inside of Verstappen on the run down to Turn 4.

Red Bull gambled on an alternate strategy for Verstappen, but the Ferraris looked comfortable for tyre wear and pace as the race wore on. Disaster would soon strike for Carlos Sainz though as his engine began spewing flames as he was hunting down Verstappen for P2.

The Championship Lowdown

Charles Leclerc has closed the gap to 38 points at the top of the championship standings, while Perez's DNF in Austria has left him over 50 points back from his teammate following a promising start to the season.

Esteban Ocon now rests in P8 heading into his home Grand Prix thanks to an immense fifth-place finish at the Red Bull Ring.

Ferrari has moved within 56 points of Red Bull in the constructor's standings, having previously been almost 100 points back. A strong weekend in Austria has seen Haas leapfrog AlphaTauri in the battle for P7.

Storylines and Predictions

The Verstappen vs Leclerc title fight will rage on when the drivers travel to Le Castellet with Ferrari expected to be quick once again this weekend. The Scuderia had the beating of Red Bull on raw pace in Austria and signs point the way to another strong weekend for Mattia Binotto's outfit in France.

We could see a third team battling at the front this weekend. Mercedes have shown an improved pace at Silverstone and in Austria, and Toto Wolff has confirmed that the Brackley-based team will bring further upgrades to this round.

There will also be a new face in the W13 this weekend as Nyck De Vries steps into the Mercedes in place of Lewis Hamilton for FP1. The Dutchman is the reigning Formula E world champion and will take part in his first Mercedes practice session on Friday afternoon.

RealSport101's French Grand Prix predictions

Pole Position: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Podium: P1: Max Verstappen (Red Bull), P2: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), P3: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

Weekend Schedule

The schedule for this weekend's French Grand Prix is listed below:

FP1: Friday, July 22nd (1pm BST)

FP2: Friday, July 22nd (4pm BST)

FP3: Saturday, July 23rd (12pm BST)

Qualifying: Saturday, July 23rd (3pm BST)

Race: Sunday, July 24th (2pm BST)

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