Hamilton unsure if Paul Ricard will be another “boring race”

2018 French Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he doesn’t know whether Formula 1 is likely to see better racing this weekend at Paul Ricard, a track it hasn’t visited since 1990.

Processional races in Canada and Monaco has reopened debate over the variable quality of racing in grands prix this year. DRS zones have been added and extended at some tracks this year in a bid to increase overtaking while the sport’s governing body has pushed through new rules intended to help cars run more closely together next season.

However Sebastian Vettel has called criticism of F1 races “short-sighted”.

Hamilton was unwilling to predict whether the first French Grand Prix in 10 years was likely to be an exciting race.

“I really don’t know what it’s going to provide,” he said following last week’s race in Canada. “Is it going to be a boring race like [Montreal] or an exciting one? Is it going to be one like Baku? I really couldn’t tell you, absolutely no idea.

“I hope for France it’s a great one, I really do. I’ve not watched these races so I don’t know what you guys feel.”

Hamilton said he had been disappointed by the reaction to the Canadian Grand Prix among his friends.

“I heard [in Canada] there was less overtakes than there was in Monaco, something like that. A couple of my friends said the most exciting part of the race was a crash at the beginning. If that’s really what Formula 1 is about, that’s sad to hear, because there’s so much more to it.”

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53 comments on “Hamilton unsure if Paul Ricard will be another “boring race””

  1. I guess the simple fact that nobody knows the track might help a bit. Then again, they all have their simulations ready long ago, and will be carefully planning to run at a pace that enables them to make that one stop and cruise for the flag instead of risking a bold race strategy after qualifying to try and actually overtake (if not starting from pole).

    But it’s clear that Hamilton doesn’t know (would be pretty bad if he could already tell it will be boring!), since he’s probably not seen the track live!

    1. Presumably he did some tire testing there last year. See the on-board clip of a Hamilton lap with his comments that is on F1.com.

      1. Was that on the configuration that they will be using though? Paul Ricard has so many different possible configurations it is unlikely.

      2. @asanator It’s the same. Compare the track map in the video to the track map found on GP’s site.

        1. I am pretty sure that both Mercedes and Pirelli actually confirmed that they did NOT drive on the F1 circuit layout @huhhii, @asanator, @dutch-1

          1. @bascb If they claimed something like that then they were lying.

    2. Our only safety valve is if the likes of Verstappen and
      Ocon cut loose. Could well happen at a track many of us don’t
      really know too well.
      With only three engines a year now allocated, teams are
      almost literally strapping the drivers right foot an inch above
      the pedal ! Add that restriction to current aero packages and
      you’re looking at boredom sold off at rock bottom prices.

      There has to be an intelligent way to stop this destructive
      trend before it does lasting damage.

  2. New track maybe it will be better than boring festival since Barcelona.

  3. Canada has hosted many exciting races, just this year was dull. The first race in Baku was dreadful but 2017 and 2018 were amazing. Of course we should think of changes to tracks or cars to make races more exciting, but people should also just accept that there will always be some boring races. When the leading car is faster than the following car, there will (or should?) be no overtake.

    1. This has never happened in Canada for as long as i remember… So dull…

      1. That might be because human memories have a tendency to gloss over or forget things that it does not like to remember, so your memories of a race from a few years ago will be different to what you thought at the time.

        For example, when you look back at how people felt at the time, the 2015 Canadian GP had a pretty poor rating too. It wasn’t rated the worst race that season (Interlagos took that dubious honour by a long way), but it was rated a long way below the historical average (getting barely over 5.5 out of 10) and was amongst the bottom quarter in terms of popularity that year.

    2. @matthijs First, we should think of changes to the cars, only then to the tracks if necessary, but the cars are the real problem, not the circuits except for Monaco.

  4. If you watch the on-board lap with Hamilton from last year tire testing, it looks like a very flat, very very wide and very boring track. Only problem he mentions are the many different options in the circuit so the right apex is hard to see. Seems to me a circuit for the top speed cars (=Merc).

    1. Take a look at the Super Kart races there on you tube…

      Its actually a really fun circuit- I have raced there in 250 – prefer it to Silverstone Or Donnington- bring back Brand Hatch though… real shame we can’t get that back in the system!

  5. Seriously, can we not break out the “B-word” before anyone has even arrived in France?

    “I heard [in Canada] there was less overtakes than there was in Monaco, something like that. A couple of my friends said the most exciting part of the race was a crash at the beginning. If that’s really what Formula 1 is about, that’s sad to hear, because there’s so much more to it.”

    I’m glad Lewis said “there’s so much more to it” because that is exactly the point I’m always trying to make when I rant about people complaining the races are dull. There is always stuff going on, you just need to know where to look for it. If your sole requirements for a race to be “exciting” is constant position swapping and crashes, F1 is not for you. f1 has never been about that despite what the rose-tinted spectacle bridge tell you F1 “used to be”…

    1. I agree and have always felt there is so much to F1 than any one event or string of ‘boring’ races or what have you. Anything can happen in F1 and often does. I take enjoyment even out of the prospect of a pass, the suspense, even if a pass never actually materializes. Of course one does need to see some passing eventually lol. And I am greatly enthusiastic for the future of F1. LH did not help the cause after Canada when he stated F1 is going in the wrong direction. I couldn’t disagree more. But it would be interesting to hear what LH would do, rather than just hear rejection of Liberty’s efforts for 2021.

    2. I agree, it does seem premature to call a race boring. I thought the Sky Sports team did a very good job of making Monaco an interesting race because, with Ricciardo leading the race with a wounded car, there was some suspense. Nevertheless, history is written by the … in this case the also rans, who were obviously irked at being beaten by a horse with a limp, so it was boring. Hamilton said he hadn’t seen how Sky Sports and other producers presented the Canadian GP, so how does he, finishing in 5th place, know it was boring?
      As I think about it, since it was boring where he was, then that’s all the more reason why the TV cameras don’t need to watch him and those around him lap after lap. After all, if he’s fifth on lap ten, and it seems likely he’ll be fifth on lap 15, why not point the TV cameras at some of the back markers so their sponsors can get some air time?

      1. @drycrust Actually now that you mention it, what we never did get to see was much if any of Max reeling in Bottas in the last third of the race. Seemed to me Max held himself closer to VB if not closest than any other driver did to the car in front of him. Turns out Max finished .1 seconds behind VB, although that might have been for the ‘fake’ 70 lap finish after the premature chequered flag that was the actual end. Not sure though…we didn’t see them…just LH behind DR for lap after lap of non-action, and SV waving to the crowd after it was over.

        1. @robbie I agree, it was a disaster, they kept showing ricciardo and hamilton who were much farther than bottas and verstappen were, they lost the little action there was.

          1. It was incredibly hard to see verstappen and bottas finish, I kept going back to when vettel takes the last turn, you barely see bottas much farther behind on the straight and then when you see vettel win, you barely see bottas and verstappen come on the final straight, and they were so far from the camera that if you didn’t know it were them you couldn’t even see the color of the cars.

      2. Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)

        “Hamilton said he hadn’t seen how Sky Sports and other producers presented the Canadian GP, so how does he, finishing in 5th place, know it was boring?”

        His friends told him it was boring from a spectators point of view.
        From his point of view he was a lame duck with an old engine.

  6. Are those stripes going to be be removed from the escape areas of the track ? My eyes got strained every time I watch a race at that circuit…

  7. I expect a boring race. If you look at 2007 how much effort it took alonso to take over Heidfeld. I expect with this year cars no real overtake what so ever.
    Really hope I am wrong!

    1. Mark, you do realise that the 2007-race was held on a different circuit?

      1. No I did not ! Dank je wel!

    2. In the past a boring race was when nobody had a dnf and all cars finished in the same order as they started. But the difference was that there were margins between each car. The reason the race was boring was because nobody was in position to overtake. Nowadays a boring race is when the cars finish one after another despite some of the cars driving full race distance behind each other because everyone knows there is not even a chance of trying to see an overtake. It just can’t happen.

      Huge amounts of downforce and sensitive wings create lots o dirty air making it impossible to slipstream for an overtake and computer controlled hybrids make it impossible for the drivers to make mistakes. Back in the 80s driver could miss a shift or get loose on corner exit. Nowadays the drivers will drive full race 2-4 seconds between them while focusing on saving fuel and engines.

  8. Sadly whether the race is good or not is more down to the teams strategies than the track itself, stretching out tyre runs to single stop will not produce great racing. Quickly looking at the track layout, it depends how well cars can follow each other through corners 3-7 to get them close enough to overtake by the chicane at 8-9. Corners 10-15 look single file, pit straight looks too short. Might be a half chance of firing one down the inside at 11. This track definitely has passing opportunities, just depends if the teams want to use them or manage tyres instead.

  9. When we lost refuelling as a way to gain track position, quali took on a greater importance. One stop used to be the risky outlier option, now it seems to be plan A (vulnerable only to an unfortunately timed safety car). I say change the rules so that every car has to use all three tyres during the race, and we might get some more interesting races. Take one stop out of the equation. Plus you will have less of cars eeking out a long first stint hoping for a safety car in the last 15 laps (for them to whack on new super softs and do a Red Bull in China).

  10. Chris Robinson
    18th June 2018, 15:06

    If Hamilton is unsure, meaning he thinks it might be or it might not, why do we have to spend time reading his views? Isn’t this the worst sort of “no news”?

  11. 1. It’s a parking lot with a track painted on it and besides the sunny weather, has no atmosphere whatsoever.
    2. It has no interesting/challeging corners from a drivers perspective
    3. If you mess up, you just drive back on to the track.
    4. It has no corners that invite overtaking. Not even the chicane on the Mistral straight.
    5. The rest is corners where you can’t follow eachother closely, and straights.

    Paul Ricard is going to be a giant fiasco and Liberty media is going to is it as an excuse to organize city races in places like Hanoi, Copenhagen and Miami, rather than going ‘back to classic tracks’ because look at Paul Ricard….

    1. @jeffreyj: Fear you might be spot on.

      However, doesn’t the track feature an ‘innovative sprinkler system‘? I nominate you to push the button. ;-)

      1. @jimmi-cynic ‘innovative sprinkler system‘ Haha, yeah that might help things. I’m sure Paul Ricard is a wonderful testtrack, but to me, it simply doesn’t belong on F1 calendar.

        To me, If F1 want’s to race in France it should either race at Magny-Cours. A great track to drive, but a bit in the middle of nowhere. Another option is doing a street race in Paris. Now, I’m not in favor of street tracks at all, but since France doesn’t have a great track/location it actually makes more sense to do it in Paris than it does doing it in Berlin, Rotterdam or Copenhagen.

        Or they could just skip France as F1 already also goes to Monaco and Spa Francorchamps and go to Finland and/or Portugal instead (great tracks in the Kymiring and Algarve circuit respectively!).

        1. @jeffreyj: Good points.

          But what about Circuit de la Sarthe? The 2.4 Hours (or so) of Le Mans – save the commute for Alonso.

        2. @jeffreyj Magny-Cours is a great track to drive but in terms of racing it was always terrible in the dry even back when cars had less downforce & could follow one another closer. Even GP2 struggled to overtake round there when they had there 1st generation car that was using more ground effects.

          For me that isn’t necessarily an issue as i’m not as down on races with fewer overtakes than many others are (I didn’t even think Canada was too bad, Wasn’t great but i’ve seen far worse) but given the current fan/media climate & there focus on overtaking & nothing else a race around Magny-Cours would get ripped to shreds more than it already did a decade ago….. Sadly.

          1. @stefmeister, you’re right that, when F1 raced at Magny-Cours in the past, the races there were very unpopular.

            I can recall people dubbing the track “Magny-Bores” at the time and complaining about extremely dull and processional races around that circuit in dry conditions. In fact, historically the fans here dubbed it as one of their least popular circuits of the past decade or so, and some outright hated the circuit for producing tedious and terrible races.

            At the time, I can recall that there were a lot of people saying that the French GP should leave Magny Cours and instead move to Paul Ricard, which fans hoped would produce better races. Of course, now that F1 has done exactly that, we now have fans predicting that Paul Ricard will produce poor races and F1 should go back to Magny Cours instead.

            @jimmi-cynic, there is no way that the ACO will ever allow the Circuit de la Sarthe to be used for any potential rival events to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, especially an F1 race – I honestly think that the ACO would prefer to tear down the circuit than let F1 race there.

            The only part of the circuit that has ever been made available for rival racing series has been the Bugatti Circuit, which is not at all popular – even MotoGP riders complain about how hard it is to overtake a rival there, whilst the one F1 race that did take place there (in 1967) was hated by the drivers and drew an extremely small crowd as well (20,000, making it one of the least popular F1 races ever).

    2. @jeffreyj If that’s true though, look at CART (I mean yeah Liberty simply won’t say that but oh well).

      Also You were describing Caesar’s Palace, not Paul Ricard (maybe apart from the messing up part) :p

  12. Apologies if linking is not permitted.
    1990 French GP. Check out the size of the grid including those who did not qualify. Also check out the number of Italians on the grid.

    1. @glennb, the thing is, 14 of those teams – or 70% of the entrants in that race – had collapsed within a decade of that race. Yes, there were a lot of entrants, but very few of them were that competitive and most lacked any sort of financial stability to last for more than a few years (even with a steady stream of pay drivers to keep some of those teams afloat for a bit).

    2. @glennb There were more teams/cars back then but the gaps between them tended to be much larger, Especially when it came to race pace.

      Something that was different back then which came in to play for this race was the freedom teams had with tyre compounds/strategy. There were no mandatory stops back then forcing teams to run specific compounds & the tyre suppliers took 4-5 compounds to every race with teams able to run whatever compounds they liked.

      In this race the 2 Leyton House cars of Ivan Capelli & Maurício Gugelmin who had both failed to qualify for the previous race opted to pick the hardest compound & run the race without making a stop. As others pitted they ended up running 1st/2nd & while Gugelmin retired Ivan Capelli came within 2-3 laps of a surprise win.

      With the tyre rules of today restricting compounds & strategy forcing teams to run certain compounds & make at least 1 stop you would never see something like this today.

      1. In terms of the number of Italian drivers…. Marlboro were putting a lot of cash into Italian motorsport & helping to fund a lot of Italian drivers.

        When Tobacco sponsorship started to be banned 15 odd years ago that funding dried up & with no other Italian companies filling the void the number of Italian drivers coming through the ranks started to dry up.

        Similar happened in Canada where Players used to help fund young Canadian drivers (Jacques Villeneuve, Greg Moore, Patrick Carpentier & Alex Tagliani to name a few of the more well known one’s).

  13. That’s a lot of Italians.

  14. Hamilton starts complaining if he knows he is not able to win the race…

  15. Martin VanNostrand
    18th June 2018, 20:41

    I think any race that Hamilton and MERC doesn’t dominate is “boring” to Hamilton and his fans. He dominates in Spain and it’s a great race…VET and Ferrari dominate in Canada and it’s “boring”. A bit of a double standard to be sure. It’s this artificial push to make every race a nail-biter that further leads Liberty and the FIA to try and convert F1 into something resembling NASCAR. The sport and tracks are fine…let the boys race.

    1. Read with a bit more subtlety and intelligence, it’s clear Hamilton is picking up on what other people said to him, not calling the race ‘boring’ from his own feeling about the race.

  16. Clearly the problem hasn’t been the tracks but a combination of the aero and the tyres. Canada has been spectacular most races for the last 20 years. I couldn’t even remember a bad race there to be honest. Spain is not always great, but it does feature overtaking. It’s actually been great the last 5 years. Monaco is different we know that. Lewis again throwing shade at Paul Ricard? Makes me want to strangle him. Last thing the sport needs is it’s most prominent representative to be trashing it, especially before the race has actually happened. It’s the second time he talks trash about this track.

  17. Martin VanNostrand
    18th June 2018, 21:21

    As our illustrious colleague Mr. Pennypacker has alluded to, the tempermental nature of the tires and aero can produce a “boring” race on any given circuit. Until Formula One and the FIA change the finicky nature of this combination, we are destined to watch further races where one team has figured out this combination better than all of the others and dominates the weekend. It’s always been this way to a point…one team getting all the settings right and winning, but with the complexity of this setup regarding the present machines it’s just much more pronounced at the present time. Racing is racing.

  18. If the race isn’t good, it’ll be very hard to make it look better, that’s for sure. The track is so open that I bet it’ll be difficult to show the speed and excitement of racing cars going fast around the track on the telly.

    I think we’re in for a very disappointing race this sunday. Cars are not able to follow and the track doesn’t “look” interesting at all.

  19. “I hope for France it’s a great one, I really do. I’ve not watched these races so I don’t know what you guys feel.”

    Hamilton said he had been disappointed by the reaction to the Canadian Grand Prix among his friends.

    “I heard [in Canada] there was less overtakes than there was in Monaco, something like that. A couple of my friends said the most exciting part of the race was a crash at the beginning. If that’s really what Formula 1 is about, that’s sad to hear, because there’s so much more to it.”

    Is it me or does Hamilton appear to have little interest in F1 racing other than it being his job to drive the car.

    1. @johnrkh it’s you.

    2. Not just you. It does seem like when the ducks aren’t all in a row with front rows practically a given he gets down on F1 or acts a little hard done by. I’m sure the tires aren’t pleasing any of the drivers, nor of course the dirty air effect that quickly ruin the fronts. So…combination of the cars not being all that fun to drive these days, as well as competition. When he can have a race such as what he had in Canada where he normally dominates, he is likely feeling less sure that he can answer to that points haul of SV’s in France.

    3. What? No. I think people are reading into this the wrong way.

      He was talking about what his friends thought of the race. That they saw it as boring them goes on to say
      “that’s sad to hear, because there’s so much more to it.”
      He is defending F1, that there is more to it than crashes and passing.

  20. I feel a Valencia type of race coming!

  21. I know it was a long time ago & that a lot has changed but the races at Paul Ricard used to be good, The long straight (Minus a chicane back then) created a really good overtaking spot & there also used to be good overtaking at several other spots around the circuit.

    It was also a popular track among the drivers who loved the challenge of the place thanks to its mix of fast sweeping corners. Most didn’t like the short version used from 1986-1990 as it cut out some of the best corners & the shorter straight wasn’t as good for overtaking but they still enjoyed it.

    Signes used to be an amazing corner, Not quite flat & a real drivers challenge which was scary if you got it wrong. The old super quick first few corners were likewise fun.

    Here is an onboard camera with eddie cheever around the old long f1 layout-
    and the post 86 short layout with ricardo patrese-

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