Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
Formula One returns to its European heartland for the first triple-header of the 2021 season, as the French Grand Prix makes a comeback following its absence last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catch our live blog coverage right here on The Roar from 10:50pm (AEST).
Since becoming a part of modern Formula One in 2018, Circuit Paul Ricard has received little in the way of praise, with processional running highlighting the 53 laps across the 5.8km conventional track.
Much of that has been due to the dominance of Mercedes across the hybrid-turbo era, with reigning seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton having won the previous two races in France.
However, their form of late has left the mighty constructor scratching their heads. The last race in Azerbaijan saw neither Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas score points for the first time in 55 events.
Championship leader Max Verstappen, who also failed to finish in Azerbaijan, will have a challenge on his hands this time out, as Mercedes seem to have found their strength on a traditional high-speed circuit in qualifying.
Despite that, Verstappen edged Hamilton for pole position by 0.258, with the championship rivals locking out the front row of the grid. Their teammates in Bottas and Baku winner Sergio Perez occupy the second row.
Red Bull will be wary of Mercedes in the pit-stops, given the strategy they employed during the Spanish Grand Prix, which saw Hamilton two-stop and come back to pass one-stopping Verstappen for the victory. But with Perez qualifying up with the leading group, it does offer them greater choices with their strategy options.
Behind the leaders, it was Ferrari who came out ahead, with Carlos Sainz set to start an impressive fifth and Charles Leclerc in seventh. Frenchman Pierre Gasly was sandwiched between the two red cars, but there will be eyes on the orange from eighth and tenth – they were third-quickest on race pace during Friday’s practice.
Aussie Daniel Ricciardo will be hoping to move from tenth, having yet to finish higher than sixth with McLaren; while teammate Lando Norris has achieved a pair of podiums at Imola and Monaco.
Can Red Bull then win their first hat-trick of consecutive races since 2013 and extend their lead in both championships? Or will Mercedes fight back in kinder conditions on Sunday?
Catch live blog coverage from 10:50pm (AEST), as we find out whether Paul Ricard can produce a stellar race.
Lights out: 11pm (AEST)
Venue: Circuit Paul Ricard, Les Castellet
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull), 5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), 6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 8. Lando Norris (McLaren), 9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine), 10. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), 11. Esteban Ocon (Alpine), 12. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), 13. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 14. George Russell (Williams), 15. Mick Schumacher (Haas), 16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 17. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo), 18. Nikita Mazepin (Haas), 19. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), 20. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)