Round 12 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship takes us this weekend to Circuit Paul Ricard near Marseille, France, the current home of the French Grand Prix.
The French Grand Prix is one of the oldest car races in the world. It dates back to the earliest days of motorsports, as the very first Grand Prix, French for "Big Prize," was the 1906 French Grand Prix. The original big prize was 45,000 Francs which at the time was equivalent to 28.6 pounds of gold.
The French race returned to the current F1 calendar in 2018 after a ten year break and uses a 3.6-mile version of the track at Circuit Paul Ricard. The version features 15 corners, with the first sector the fastest and providing the best overtaking opportunities, especially under braking into Turns 1 and 3.
The second section is all about the power unit, featuring the Mistral straight which is broken up by a chicane to reduce the entry speed into Signes, one of the fastest corners on the calendar.
Circuit Paul Ricard, home of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix
Aerodynamics take on a greater importance in the third and final sector, with a variety of medium speed corners between Turns 11 and 15. There are two DRS zones: one on the main straight, the other on the first part of the Mistral straight.
Going off the track is definitely to be avoided: the distinct red, white, and blue tricolour markings contain a high-friction material designed to slow cars down quickly, with high risk to flat spot the tires. Pirelli has nominated its White hard as the C2, Yellow medium as the C3, and Red soft as the C4.
The race weekend is expected to be the hottest of the season so far, with temperatures heading for 104 degrees, which will make life difficult for the drivers and teams. It could also lead to some thermal degradation of the tires, which teams will need to take notice of.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2022 Drivers' Championship with 208 points. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is second with 170 points, while Red Bull's Sergio Perez is third with 151 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 359 points, versus the 303 points of Ferrari and 237 points of Mercedes-Benz AMG. Last year's winner in France was Verstappen driving for Red Bull.