Paddock Diary: 2022 French Grand Prix

Paul Ricard might have held its very last French Grand Prix for the foreseeable potential. Will Formulation one miss out on its excursions to Le Castellet?


Immediately after a questionable evening’s continue to be at a Marseille airport resort, I arrived at the sunshine coastline of 6-Fours-Les-Plague to check out in forward of media working day for the French Grand Prix. Haunted by reminiscences of extended tailbacks on my only earlier take a look at to Paul Ricard in 2018, I was inspired to listen to the organisers experienced considering that designed an ‘F1 lane’ for these doing work at the function to use.

I crossed the bridge overlooking the circuit, which is located above the hills to the east of Marseille, the unbearable warmth urgent down as I attained the media centre. There was minimal time to squander as in addition to the standard periods I experienced 3 unique interviews lined up, all of which will be printed on F1 Triviasoon.

The common periods begun with a roundtable with Valtteri Bottas. As he sat down he clocked a bucket hat worn by just one of the media. I defined we experienced been gifted them in a media pack by the circuit and his eyes lit up. “I want just one!” He exclaimed. Laughing I promised I would hand mine above later on. I can pull off quite a few appears, but a bucket hat is not just one of them.

I manufactured my way again to the media centre to discover the freebie and walked again to Alfa Romeo to hand above the hat. He grinned “thanks” as I handed it above. Small did I know what pattern I was starting up there…

Haas driver Mick Schumacher has just lately been donning a mask as Covid an infection fees increase all over again. I did the exact out of regard for his choice, and discovered his mask manufactured his piercing blue eyes even much more well known. We chatted at size about his relatives, his well timed upswing in variety and the team’s strategies which vexed him in Austria.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2022I fulfilled his staff mate, Kevin Magnussen, for the to start with of my exclusives. “Is it you now?” he smiled as he entered the motorhome and he pulled up a chair. We talked for a quarter of an hour and, as the tv screens all-around us started to clearly show footage of wildfires ripping by components of the planet, the discussion inevitably turned to the matter of local weather improve.

Daniel Ricciardo was future on my checklist, showing with his attribute large smile on his experience and apologising for getting late. Somewhat peaceful regardless of current speculation above his potential, which he shot down on social media, the McLaren driver spoke candidly about it. But he experienced a great deal much more enthusiasm for talking about his new Hulu tv clearly show, and dropped a number of clues about his strategies for it.

Ultimately, I sat down with Alexander Albon in Williams’ hospitality suite. Calmly outlining his time at Pink Bull and addressing responses from Helmut Marko about how “nice” he was, he was evidently keen to see Williams’ current enhance translate into benefits.

A massively occupied working day finished with a BBQ kindly set on by Mercedes for the media. Lewis Hamilton even located time to pop his head all-around the corner and say hi there.


Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Paul Ricard, 2022

The teams’ hospitality suites might be air conditioned but my lodging was not, and I endured a rotten night’s rest. I manufactured the extended journey into the monitor with a banging headache. At minimum now most of the prepared media’s commitments have moved to Thursdays, Fridays have turn out to be significantly quieter.

Going for walks to the monitor I briefly bumped into Alice Powell and Jamie Chadwick, who I labored with throughout my time as commentator for W Sequence. In accurate British type, we spoke about the climate and how incredibly hot the circuit experienced been so significantly.

Heading by the F1 turnstiles nonetheless, I bumped into Bottas all over again, whose bucket hat was however glued to his head. He experienced no require to get in early, with Robert Kubica getting above his vehicle for the opening session.


The FIA addressed us to breakfast in their motorhome on Saturday as they were being eager to reveal the Motorsport Online games. The FIA’s Director of Ground breaking Activity Tasks Frederic Bertrand expended the future 50 percent an hour introducing us to the online games, outlining the expenditures and structure. The function is because of to just take spot above the weekend of the 29-thirtieth Oct, which regrettably clashes with the Mexican Grand Prix, a race I am hoping to go to.

Sebastian Vettel, 1922 Aston Martin 'Green Pea', Paul Ricard, 2022Qualifying was expended in the media pen, which was significantly much more cramped than standard. The neighborhood media were being eager to listen to from the two French motorists, not to point out Francophone championship contender Charles Leclerc from close by Monaco.

Bottas was however donning his bucket hat. Sebastian Vettel was in a chipper temper, taking into consideration his challenging working day, but experienced evidently loved his operate an a one hundred-12 months-outdated Aston Martin grand prix vehicle two times before, on sustainable gasoline.

He is a different driver whose potential stays unsure, as he will be out of deal at the conclusion of the 12 months. If he leaves, quite a few will miss out on his aid for LGBTQ+ legal rights and marketing of environmental consciousness. I requested him who would just take his and Hamilton’s spot as the human legal rights champions in the paddock at the time their racing times are above: “Instagram,” quipped Vettel, whose aversion to social media is effectively-acknowledged.

I read from the relaxation of the motorists outside the house the major 3, right before earning the extended and sluggish journey again to the condominium to discover one thing to consume. Far too drained for a great deal enjoyment, I was tucked up in mattress by 10pm.


Race start, Paul Ricard, 2022

Naively believing the promoters experienced sorted targeted visitors difficulties that have haunted me considering that the 2018 race, I remaining with what should really have been 7 several hours to spare right before the race to make the forty-moment journey to Paul Ricard. Two-and-a-50 percent several hours later on, I at last attained my vacation spot.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022It appeared the street to the media vehicle park was the exact just one utilised by the aid paddock motorists and groups. We were being blocked among 3 F2 autos on the again of a flatbed truck and our parking area, which established me again significantly for a longer time than predicted.

Immediately after the racing received underway a number of several hours later on, I located myself in the media pen all set to talk to any motorists who retire from the race. This uncovered area in the immediate daylight proved just one of the much more not comfortable pens to operate on, with minimal escape from the blistering warmth.

But we did not have to wait around extended for the to start with, completely dejected driver to surface. Immediately after Charles Leclerc planted his Ferrari into the wall, I manufactured my way above to talk to him. As standard when he’s manufactured a blunder, he did not spare his blushes, frankly admitting he does not are entitled to to gain the championship if he commits these problems.

The chequered flag fell and Max Verstappen gathered a different gain. For the to start with time this 12 months neither Mercedes driver appeared in the pen as each experienced concluded in the major 3 and as a result went to the FIA push meeting.

There, Lewis Hamilton’s experience lit up when he confirmed us the “Mr Freeze” ice pop he experienced been handed. Tearing it aside with his tooth in the push meeting space soon after his three hundredth race, the 7-occasions winner mentioned it “reminds me of my childhood, I recall heading to the corner store for these.”

Pierre Gasly spoke movingly at the conclusion of what appears like getting the very last French Grand Prix for the foreseeable potential. The race does not nevertheless have a deal to surface on the 2023 F1 calendar. The AlphaTauri driver was evidently psychological at the considered of not racing at residence all over again.

With the finest will in the planet, it is tough to escape the experience the promoters however have some operate to do if the function does continue on. Inspite of the idyllic environment, journey to the location has usually been tricky, significantly for these who do not have the gain of getting equipped to use the ‘F1 lane’.

But the ambiance was marvelous: French flags filling the stadium and massive cheers for the crowd’s 3 favourites. There is no question France warrants a grand prix. But Germany does far too, and it is not on the calendar.

It is a disgrace to drop these heritage from our activity and it would be a travesty to drop Spa – where by we’re heading future thirty day period – far too. But right before then we head to Hungary, where by all eyes will be on Ferrari soon after their disastrous weekend in France.

Aerial view, Paul Ricard, 2022

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