Mercedes claimed victory in 2018, Ferrari and McLaren have never missed a race at the track and Racing Point are the only team with a 100% DNF rate here. Here’s how the teams’ histories compare at Circuit Paul Ricard!
Mercedes took part in their first French Grand Prix since 1954 last year, and competed for the first time at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Just like their only other F1 Grand Prix appearance back in 1954, Mercedes took the victory. Lewis Hamilton took the win, while Valtteri Bottas could only manage seventh as a result of being spun on the first lap by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Both Mercedes drivers reached the final part of qualifying here last year, and Mercedes scored a front-row lock-out, with Hamilton on pole and Bottas second on the grid.
Ferrari are one of only two teams to have been present at every F1 race so far at the Circuit Paul Ricard. They’ve finished on the podium in all of the last four races at the track, with Kimi Raikkonen taking third place for the team on the track’s return to the calendar last season. From their fifteen appearances here, Ferrari have won only twice – with Niki Lauda in 1975 and with Alain Prost in 1990. Last year marked only the third time, after 1982 and 1988, where both Ferraris have finished in the points at this track. There have been three occasions – 1971, 1976 and 1987 – where the Scuderia have recorded a double DNF here.
Ferrari have taken two poles in Le Castellet. Niki Lauda set the fastest qualifying time in 1975, as did Nigel Mansell in 1990. Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda’s second qualifying places in 1971 and 1976 respectively are the only other times a Ferrari has qualified on the front row. Both of Ferrari’s cars have qualified in the top ten in all of F1’s last six visits to the track. Last year, both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen reached the final part of qualifying, qualifying in third and sixth respectively.
Max Verstappen gave the Red Bull team a podium finish on their first visit to the Paul Ricard track last year, finishing as runner-up to Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo backed up the result with a fourth place finish. Both Red Bulls reached the final part of qualifying here last year, with Verstappen qualifying fourth and Ricciardo fifth.
2018 marked Renault’s first appearance at Paul Ricard since 1985, having missed the last five races at the track. Renault have previously performed well at their home track, with a 1-2 finish courtesy of French drivers Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost in 1982, and another win for Prost in the following season, in which team-mate Eddie Cheever also joined him on the podium. The team haven’t recorded a DNF here since 1980. Last season, both Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg scored, finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
Carlos Sainz reached the final part of qualifying here for Renault last season, while Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q2. Renault previously locked-out the front row here in both 1982 and 1983, and Hulkenberg’s 12th place last year is only the second time a Renault driver has qualified outside the top ten at the track, the other time being Jean-Pierre Jabouille who qualified 11th in 1978.
On their first visit to the track last year, Haas finished in the points with Kevin Magnussen, who finished sixth, while Romain Grosjean trailed home in eleventh on his first appearance at his home Grand Prix. Both Haas drivers reached the final part of qualifying last year, with Magnussen qualifying ninth and Grosjean tenth.
McLaren are the only team other than Ferrari to have been present at every F1 race at Paul Ricard. They’ve won the French Grand Prix at this track three times, including with a 1-2 finish in 1988. 2018 ended a streak of six visits where the team had finished on the podium here. McLaren have recorded one double DNF at the track, in 1983. Last season marked the first time the team have failed to score here since then, with Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 12th and Fernando Alonso retiring from the race.
McLaren have taken pole three times at this circuit, including two front-row lock-outs in 1988 and 1989. 2018 marked their worst qualifying attempt at the circuit, with Alonso qualifying 16th and Vandoorne 18th. Both cars were eliminated in the first part of qualifying, with it being only the third race at the track where neither McLaren had qualified in the top ten.
Racing Point (Force India)
Force India’s first visit to the Paul Ricard track last year ended in a double DNF, as Esteban Ocon was eliminated after a first lap collision and Sergio Perez retired with engine troubles. They are the only current team to have a 100% DNF rate at this circuit. Both Ocon and Perez were eliminated in the second part of qualifying for the 2018 French Grand Prix, Ocon qualifying highest in eleventh.
Alfa Romeo (Sauber)
Sauber scored one point in last year’s French Grand Prix, thanks to Charles Leclerc, while Marcus Ericsson finished thirteenth. While Leclerc reached the final part of qualifying and qualified in eighth, Ericsson was eliminated in Q2. In their appearances as a works team in the 1980s, Alfa Romeo never scored a point at this circuit.
On their first appearance at the track last year, Brendon Hartley recorded Toro Rosso’s only finish with fourteenth, while Pierre Gasly was out on the first lap. Gasly reached the second part of qualifying, lining up fourteenth on the grid, while Hartley was eliminated in Q1.
Williams have won here three times in the past, including a 1-2 finish in 1987, but failed to score a point on the track’s return to the calendar last year. It was only the second time neither Williams car has scored on all of their appearances here, the other being in 1988 when the team recorded a double DNF. The team have suffered a retirement with at least one car in all of the last four races here. While Lance Stroll retired last year, Sergey Sirotkin finished in fifteenth.
Williams have previously taken pole at the Paul Ricard track twice, with Keke Rosberg in 1985 and with Nigel Mansell two years later. Last season marked the first time in seven races at the track where neither Williams driver qualified in the top ten. Both Sirotkin and Stroll were eliminated in Q1, qualifying in 19th and 20th respectively.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.