D he race on the Circuit Paul Ricard should be a big French party will. With three pilots, the Grande Nation has the largest nation block in the starting field. In addition, Renault is a team that sails under the French flag. The pride in the race's return to the F1 calendar could be seen even before the start. The tricolor was swung everywhere in the stands.
France trio beats itself
In the end, you could only see the colors blue, white and red in the overalls of the Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari drivers on the podium. From a French perspective, the Le Castellet comeback could hardly have been more disappointing. Neither Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, nor Romain Grosjean made it into the points. And they can only blame each other for that.
Two thirds of the local heroes were already out at the start. At Turn 3, Gasly crashed into the rear of Ocon, which meant a lot of work for both the retirement and the mechanics. To make matters worse, both crash pilots had to go to the FIA commissioners after the race. The issue was starting place penalties for the upcoming race in Spielberg. But the referees issued a mild judgment with a warning for both pilots.
Ocon turned too briskly from the left towards the apex. Gasly was a little too optimistic about the braking point. Both errors contributed to the collision, the stewards stated. In the event of three warnings, it will move back by 10 starting positions. For Gasly and Ocon, it wasbut only the first yellow card.
Grosjean receives a 5-second penalty
So all the hopes of the French were on Romain Grosjean. But the Haas driver was also quickly targeted by the race management. At the first examination, Grosjean got away without penalty. It was investigated whether he was not giving himself an unfair advantage by taking a short cut on the starting lap. But this accusation was apparently not confirmed.
But then the competition contacted the FIA. You should take a closer look at the start. 'There was so much to do after the events at the start that we only got around to investigating the case later,' apologized race director Charlie Whiting. “But you can clearly see on the TV pictures that Grosjean keeps pulling to the left while Ocon is next to him. Grosjean finally caused the collision with a jerky movement. ”
According to Whiting, the damage caused by the contact with the Haas was clearly visible. Force India had gotten worse. 'If Gasly hadn't cleared me, I would probably have been eliminated from the damage from the first collision,' grumbled Ocon. The commissioners imposed a 5-second penalty that finally threw him out of the direct battle with Charles Leclerc for the last championship point. 11th place meant that Grosjean, alongside Sergey Sirotkin, is still the only driver in the field without a point.
Only Renault was able to defend the French honor. But it could have jumped out even more than places 8 and 9 for Carlos Sainz and Nico Hülkenberg. Without the defect on the MGU-K, Sainz would easily have crossed the finish line in 6th place ahead of Kevin Magnussen's Haas. So the Spaniard had to let Valtteri Bottas pass in addition to the Dane in the final laps. If the virtual safety car phase hadn't come, it could have ended even more miserably.