With the 2022 Formula 1 world championship at its halfway point, there is plenty to look forward to as we enter the second half of the season, starting with this weekend’s French Grand Prix.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen leads this season’s championship and has won six of the eleven races so far. The Dutchman looks like the man to beat however if the first half of the season has been anything to go by, there are sure to be many more twists in the championship race.
The French Grand Prix made its return to the calendar in 2018 after a ten-year absence. The race was previously held at Magny-Cours but now takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.
The track is a popular testing choice for many racing categories due to its combination of high, medium, and low-speed corners. It means the F1 teams need to find the optimum car setup that works well across the whole lap. The large, painted run-off areas also give the track a distinctive look. The 2021 race was won by Verstappen who finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc will hope to build on his win last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver secured victory after a run of results which had seen him fall away in the championship race. His win in Austria moved him back up to second in the standings and cut Verstappen’s lead in the championship to 38 points.
Two drivers who will have the backing of the home support this weekend will be Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly. Both French drivers have taken their first victory in F1 during the last two seasons, and they have both demonstrated their ability to score consistent points while racing for midfield teams.
Despite the current crop of French drivers and its rich racing heritage, the French Grand Prix is once again at risk of being dropped from the F1 calendar. The race’s contract expires at the end of 2022 and with new events planned for 2023 and beyond, an extension seems unlikely. The Circuit Paul Ricard has received mixed reviews since it was added to the calendar, so any prospect of a French Grand Prix in the near future may lie elsewhere.