2019 French GP: Race pace (Midfield teams … & Gasly)

We already saw the race pace of the top teams, but how did the midfield battle develop this last Sunday? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Carlos Sainz was the fastest driver from the midfield teams. He had an impecable race, and while Lando complained about his pace, the numbers show that the Spaniard was one of the fastest drivers of the grid. Sainz was only two tenths slower than Max Verstappen, and a tenth faster than Daniel Ricciardo, the next driver on this list.

Both Renault drivers showed that perhaps the French team is getting some forward momentum. Both Nico Hulkenberg and Danny Ric had strong race pace, and while the Australian was eventually demoted from the points, he still had a solid weekend. It is interesting to see how Nico was only 2 hundredths of a second slower than Ricciardo, considering that Daniel had the newest upgrades installed.

Kimi Raikkonen had an average lap time of 1:37.008, less than two tenths slower than the fastest driver of the midfield. The ‘Iceman’ went under the radar for most of the race, but in the end managed to finish in 7th place. To show how fast Kimi was, let’s take a look at his teammate, Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian driver started with the soft tires, and stopped during the 7th lap for a set of hard tires. Normally, a driver with 2 stops would have a faster race pace than a driver who only stopped once, but that was not the case this time. Gio was almost 4 tenths slower than the Finn, and his streak of not scoring points continues.

Cruel is the only way to describe what happened to Lando Norris. He had a fantastic quali session, and while he was overtaken by his teammate during the race, he was on route to finish on a very valuable 7th place. Mechanical problems caused the Britishman to struggle hard for the last 4 laps of the race, and he went down to 9th place. Even after considering those troublesome laps, Lando’s mean time of 1:37.071 was still faster than Pierre Gasly’s mean time.

Racing Point is another team that is struggling. They are characterized for their late comebacks, and they were slightly stronger in France than expected. Sergio Perez was branded a 5 second penalty at the beginning of the race for gaining and unfair andvantage, but showed decent race pace. His average time of 1:37.073 was 143 thousands of a second faster than Lance’s time of 1:37.216. Talking about the Canadian, his hard-medium tire strategy was not as effective as it was last weekend in Canada. Lance was supremely consistent with the hard compound, but in the end, the team perhaps overdid it this time. We could be talking of a different story if the Canadian had stopped 3 or 4 laps earlier.

Toro Rosso struggled in the Circuit Paul Ricard. Neither Daniil Kvyat nor Alex Albon managed to extract the pace from the car, and were among the slowest of the race. Kvyat’s race pace was half a second slower than Sainz’ pace, while Albon’s average lap time was 6 tenths slower than the Spaniard’s time.

Haas. They are usually fast in quali, and slow during the race. The team was definitely looking to change that trend, and they did it. They were slow during quali, and very slow during the race. Grosjean was slower on average than the slowest Toro Rosso by 0.469 seconds, while Magnussen managed to do even worse by being 137 thousands of a second slower than his teammate. The American team seemed to be the midfield team to beat at the start of the season, but they keep dropping points race after race.

Williams, as usual, was the slowest team of the race. On the bright side, George Russell keeps showing his talent, and his average lap time of 1:38.791 was only slower than Magnussen’s by 858 thousands of a second. Yes, I know that normally 8 and a half tenths would be a lot, but we are talking about Williams here. Regarding Robert Kubica, it is more of the same. I think most of us were hoping that the Pole would get stronger after getting the rhythm back, but the reality is that there has been no improvement. Robert was 540 thousands of a second slower than his rookie teammate, and it seems unlikely that something will change in the near future.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre had a disastrous weekend. He found no pace during quali and had to start the race in 9th position. Since he only managed to get into Q3 with the soft tires, his race strategy was doomed since the beginning of the race. Even after switching to the hard compound, the Frenchman found no pace either, and only managed to finish in 10th place after Ricciardo’s late penalty. His average time of 1:37.104 was the 12th fastest of the grid. Pierre was a whooping 1.426 seconds slower than his teammate, Max Verstappen, and 2 seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton.

It is true that being in traffic significantly affects race pace, but we can still compare his pace against the other drivers who were also in the traffic. The fact that his strategy was quite poor, does not change that the RB15 should have enough pace in order to beat the rest of the midfield teams.

Final remarks

There you go, the race pace from the midfield teams analyzed.

McLaren had their best weekend of the season, and only because of reliability issues, they were not able to grab more points in France.

Renault had a good race in their home Grand Prix. While Danny Ric could not manage to get points, it looks like the team is heading in the right direction.

Alfa Romeo had a strong race with Kimi, and a poor one with Gio. The veteran showed once again that he still has some race in the tank, and Antonio should be feeling the pressure after a poor string of results.

Racing Point was… meh. Not the worst, but not as good as they would have wanted. They take some good learning home, and will be looking to start getting back into the points as soon as possible.

Toro Rosso struggled in the 6th fastest circuit of the season. The Honda powered team did not have an ideal weekend, but their drivers keep demonstrating that they deserve to be in F1.

Haas, I do not really know what is going on with Haas. No pace whatsoever during the race. Both Romain and KMag are very capable drivers, but neither one of them seem able to extract pace from the car. Being less than a second faster than a Williams car should tell you everything.

Williams. They will be dead last for the rest of the season. They have no pace, the car is a complete mess, and they have not shown anything to make us believe that they can change what is currently happening. Eight races into the season and they are not even in the same category as the rest of the teams. Sad times for one of the most emblematic teams in F1 history.

Finally, we have Pierre Gasly. The young Frenchman had a breakout season last year with Toro Rosso, but this year he has been totally dominated by his teammate. To make matters worse, Gasly had a stinker of a race, and barely managed to scrap a point after a penalty to an opponent. Did anyone see this coming?

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you did, please share it with your friends. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

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