Fabio Quartararo's F1 test - what you missed at the 2022 French GP


Fabio Quartararo appears set to swap two wheels for four (temporarily), while an unfortunate error may have contributed to Sergio Perez losing out on a podium place


Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) leads the field at the start of the 2022 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Photo: Grand Prix Photo

The French Grand Prix had the sense of history in the making as Charles Leclerc squandered more points to fall 63 points behind title rival Max Verstappen.

With a deficit equivalent to two-and-a-half wins, the Ferrari driver’s crash art Paul Ricard could well be seen as the moment that cost him the 2022 championship.

Leclerc’s error and Ferrari’s subsequent cautious strategy for Sainz understandably dominated the headlines after the race, but there was plenty going on directly behind — as George Russell battled Sergio Perez for third — and off the track too, with testing rumours and whispers of the 2023 calendar.

Here is what you may have missed from the 2022 French GP.


The VSC glitch which cost Perez a podium 

Sergio Perez leads George Russell in the 2022 French Grand Prix

Zhou Guanyu caused the VSC late on and Russell overtook Perez within seconds of the restart

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

With just three laps to go, Russell overtook Perez for the final podium spot after the Red Bull driver was given an incorrect message from the FIA about the virtual safety car.

He was initially told it would end out of Turn 9 but the race didn’t go green again until Turn 13, close to a minute after the initial message to Perez. Under the regulations, it should be 10 – 15 seconds.

Amid the confusion, Russell was able to pounce straight away which denied Red Bull a double podium.

“It was very unfortunate what happened with the virtual safety car,” said Perez. “I got the message it was going to end out of Turn 9, so I went for it and then it didn’t end. Then I got the message saying it was going to end through Turn 12. And I was just too close to it.

“It seems like George had different information and he was able to prepare better for [the restart]. It’s a shame the virtual safety car interfered with the result, to be honest. It shouldn’t be the case, but today it was the case.”


Ferrari’s prudent pitstop


Pitting Sainz late on was the correct thing to do

Battling with Perez and Russell for the final podium spot, Carlos Sainz managed to get himself into the top three on lap 42, only for Ferrari to immediately pit him.

With just ten laps to go, Sainz dropped to ninth, and only managed to recover to fifth — with the bonus of a point for setting the fastest lap.

Having just fought past a Red Bull, surely the Ferrari’s medium tyres could have held on for the remainder of the race? It was a question that Sainz himself was asking.

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But the answer was negative, according to team boss Mattia Binotto.

“The choice we made was the proper and the right one,” he said. “I think that Carlos from the cockpit, from the heat, does not have all the information so for him was difficult to judge. But no doubt that I think we made the right choice.

“At first we were trying to extend the stint as much as possible to have the best freedom, the tyre life, to make sure we are not overshooting any decisions in terms of tyre life.

“As soon as we got all the information which were required, we realised that there was not sufficient tyre life to go to the end of the race. As simple as that. To stay out would have been risk in terms of safety and reliability in terms of tyre life. So we had to stop.”


Au revoir Paul Ricard, 2023 F1 calendar rumours swirl


“We want a French Grand Prix in 2023” reads the flag

Under the blazing sun at Paul Ricard, there was a single dark cloud over the French Grand Prix: the persistent rumours that this would be the last for the foreseeable future.

Paul Ricard’s current deal expires at the end of this year and according to those in the paddock, it does not appear on the provisional calendar for 2023.

The French and Belgian Grands Prix look likely to disappear, as Kyalami, Shanghai, Las Vegas and Qatar make a return to the 2023 F1 calendar.

The best that the circuit can hope for appears to be a biannual deal, but there doesn’t seem to be any prospect of that happening at the moment.


MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo set to test for Mercedes 

Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo is said to be in the running for a Mercedes Formula 1 test before the end of the year, thanks to their common sponsor, Monster Energy.

The French Yamaha rider had time in the Mercedes simulator last year when he expressed his hope of driving the car one day.

He was seen in the Mercedes pit garage — and sitting in George Russell’s car — at the French Grand Prix, where he said on the grid that he was working on securing a session on track this year.

Quartararo would be following Valentino Rossi, who first tested for Ferrari in 2004, and swapped his bike with Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car in 2019.

Marc Marquez has also had time behind the wheel of a Toro Rosso, and Dani Pedrosa has driven a Red Bull.

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