RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS – 2018 FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Location: Le Castellet, France
Race Weekend: 2018 French Grand Prix
Today, we had the 2018 French Grand Prix which saw it’s return to the calendar and whilst many people thought it wouldn’t be the most entertaining race – it was!
At the start of the race we saw drivers come together however one incident which is being spoken about (a lot) is the accident between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
Looking at the replays time and time again, you can see that Sebastian Vettel was indeed blocked in by the two Mercedes with nowhere for him to go (as he had a very good start) and into the first corner, he locks up and hits Valtteri Bottas, spinning him round and ruining his car which resulted in a disappointing race for him however he managed to get back within the points.
This is what I consider to be a racing incident however I do think that the penalty should have been at least a 10-second penalty considering the fact that he ruined Bottas’ race BUT the stewards are the ones who made the decision, they feel that the penalty they gave him was right – despite what many people are saying.
This is racing.
Continuing from the race start, we saw that the Red Bull’s had a good race with their car performing well and especially after the pit stop, it’s like their cars couldn’t be stopped – closing the gap to the race leader however another unfortunate afternoon for Ricciardo who seems to be suffering with a issue on his car meaning that towards the end of the race, Kimi Raikkonen made his way past to claim P3.
Overall, a great weekend for Verstappen who claimed P2 – showing the media that he’s worthy enough to be in Formula 1 after the criticism he received.
It wasn’t the best of days for the McLaren team with frustration from Fernando Alonso, having a go over the team radio, who in the end retired and a disappointing day for the team overall.
Let’s take a look at what teams and drivers had to say following the race today.
MERCEDES – DRIVER INTERVIEWS – 2018 FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Lewis Hamilton – P1
Lewis Hamilton: “When you’re constructive and criticise yourself, approach a challenge with new methods and a new-found determination, it’s a great feeling to then get the result. But it’s also disappointing for the team as we had the opportunity to take a 1-2, which is always incredible as you achieve your ultimate goal as a team.”
“I was very comfortable with the balance this afternoon. Max had decent pace, but I could maintain the gap at around five seconds.”
“The fresh engine put us back in line with everyone else who took a new PU in Canada and everybody in the team should be feeling happy today for the good work they have done.”
“But there’s a long way to go and we’ll keep approaching the rest of the season like we approached today.”
Valtteri Bottas – P7
Valtteri Bottas: “That was a shame because we had a strong car today as Lewis’ result shows. But my race was lost in Turn One. I was on the outside going into it and I knew that keeping that line would put me on the inside for Turn Two.”
“Then suddenly I got a hit from behind, had a puncture and damaged my floor. After that it was difficult as the car was quite damaged and I could feel the lack of rear end. I was sliding around and had to do a second pit stop which was unfortunately slow so we lost more time there.”
“I guess today was just not my day; in a way it sums up my season so far. But there are some positives – we were strong as a team, although unfortunately we could not turn that into a perfect points result.”
“I also set the fastest lap of the race despite the condition of the car.”
“I’ll keep my head down, work hard and hopefully the luck will turn around at some point – I think it’s about time. “
Toto Wolff & James Allison
Toto Wolff: “This was a perfect way for Lewis to start the triple header and to bounce back from the disappointment of Canada. Whenever he has a tough weekend, he has this fantastic ability to bounce straight back, and we saw that again here in Paul Ricard. He pretty much controlled the whole race and didn’t put a wheel wrong at any point.”
“For Valtteri, it was a much tougher day: Sebastian clearly misjudged his braking for Turn One and made a mistake, which cost both him and Valtteri dearly.”
“When the car stopped, we saw that the floor area around the tyre was pretty badly damaged and flapping about – and Valtteri described the car balance as “shocking”. Taking that into account, it was a battling performance from him, too. Overall, though, we leave seeing the positive side of our performance this weekend.”
“The car was quick and with our upgrades, it felt like we made a step forward; thank you to everybody in the team who worked so hard to bring them to the track this weekend. But we can’t afford to make any assumptions about what this means for the next races – it’s still a three-way fight and we will need to be at our very best if we wish to repeat this performance.”
James Allison: “It is hard to be unhappy on a day when you have won the race in fine style, both reclaiming the lead in the drivers’ championship and extending our advantage in the constructors’.”
“Lewis drove a splendid race and had everything under control throughout; it was a faultless performance. But it is hard not to feel very sorry for Valtteri, who also had a terrific weekend and saw his race compromised at Turn One through no fault of his own.”
“On the bright side, though, the car performance was good all weekend and we can travel to Austria with the optimism that we can keep up the good work in the next races.”
RED BULL RACING – DRIVER INTERVIEWS – 2018 FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Max Verstappen – P2
Max Verstappen: “Finishing second here in Paul Ricard is better than we expected coming into the weekend. As soon as we got to Turn 2 I was relieved not to have had contact, so from there it was just about managing my own race, which was fairly straightforward.”
“I could see Lewis managing the pace but we were still not far off without pushing the car too much. I think we got the strategy spot on.”
“The soft tyres felt a little bit more robust and allowed me to find some good pace to make the final laps more comfortable. After two clean races and good result in a row it’s important to carry this momentum forward.”
“We have had a third and now a second so with the right track I am looking forward to a victory. I missed a good chance in Monaco but there are still some good opportunities coming up, but to score good points for the team at circuits that are not ideal for us is a big positive.”
“It was nice to race here in France, to hear the national anthem and see so many people in the grandstands made it feel like a traditional European grand prix.”
Daniel Ricciardo – P4
Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m obviously a bit disappointed and it’s a shame to lose out on the podium today. We were definitely quicker than fourth place and it could have been a good battle with Max.”
“I don’t know why yet but the front wing was damaged during the race. Before the pit stop we had really good pace on the supersofts, I don’t know how good compared to Lewis as he was so quick, but it seemed that we were pulling away from Kimi and catching Max.”
“Then about two laps before I stopped I had damage to the left part of the front wing; I felt some understeer immediately and I don’t know whether it was a failure or I hit some debris but the mechanics could see it during the stop.”
“After the stop, the identical part on the right of the front wing also broke. Because of the damage we had less downforce, the car was understeering, and the tyres were suffering. Kimi was always going to catch us at the end of the race with that pace, the blue flags were also pretty bad, but we were a wounded car.”
“It was a shame as we looked quite strong today. The positive is that we got some decent points but we were definitely quicker than fourth and just unlucky this afternoon.”
FERRARI – DRIVER INTERVIEWS – 2018 FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Kimi Raikkonen – P3
Kimi Raikkonen: “At the start we lost two places; I was on the outside and then the accident at the first corner happened, and it was a quite messy situation.”
“I tried to stay out of trouble but chose the wrong side of the track. After that I was able lo recover. I had a good feeling with the car, especially after we had our pit stop and put the Supersoft tires on.”
“We had a good speed through the whole race. We decided to do a very long stint with the first set and it lasted very well; only towards the end it got a bit tricky.”
“Then, with the new tires, the car was very good and I could race and actually pass other drivers; it was a lot more fun than the last two races!”
Sebastian Vettel – P5
Sebastian Vettel: “I think my start was good, perhaps even too good, as I found myself very close to Lewis in front and, when I tried to brake, I had absolutely no grip and there wasn’t much space where I could go: Valtteri on my right was trying to get his position back and Max was also trying to come round on the outside.”
“It’s a shame for Vattteri because he did nothing wrong and it’s a shame for us, because we could have obtained a better result.”
“Fortunately, we could continue racing, we had a good car in the race, but the outcome was not wnat we wanted. It was my fault, but now let’s move on and think about the next weekend.”
Maurizio Arrivabene: “It was a shame about the accident at the start, which meant we couldn’t show what we could really do. But on a track that is not best suited to the SF71H, it proved to be very competitive in tenms of its race pace.”
“That was evident from the great fight back up the order, featuring overtaking moves from Kimi and Sebastian. The team gave its all, making the right strategy calls to give the drivers every chance to get the best result possible in the circumstances.”
“With such a tight calendar, we are already looking ahead to the Austrian GP, which gets underway in a few days and we have to focus on making up the lost ground.”
MCLAREN – DRIVER INTERVIEWS – 2018 FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Fernando Alonso – Retired
Fernando Alonso: “I started this race on the back-foot, losing positions at the start as I avoided a lot of accidents around me. Too many cars ahead of me took a short-cut, but I stayed on track and ended up last.”
“I was still last after the Safety Car period, had a problem with overheating brakes, then used one set of tyres while running in traffic for nearly the whole race. Then, at the end, I had to retire with a suspension problem.”
“In five days’ time, we have another opportunity to forget today and raise our game. I really hope this weekend was a one-off and that we’ll show better form at Spielberg and, in particular, at Silverstone.”
“I know there are some new things coming over the next few months, and I’m still quite optimistic in spite of us being uncompetitive this weekend.”
Stoffel Vandoorne – P12
Stoffel Vandoorne: “For us to finish in the points would have required a fair bit of luck. We knew that, if no other cars got into trouble, points would be tough for us – and so it proved to be.”
“Our pace today was definitely better than it was in qualifying yesterday. Once we can improve our Saturday pace, it should help push us further up the order in the races too.”
“I had a decent race, I overtook Ericsson and Fernando at the end, so it was a positive afternoon for me. But we didn’t get any points for the team, which is unfortunate.”
“There’s nothing particularly wrong with the balance of our car, it’s just that our pace is not strong enough.”
Photos From The Weekend