Midweek Wrap: ‘Boring’ French GP, Ferrari Fail, Sayonara Paddy

Between a race only notable for how boring it was, Ferrari’s failed appeal, Paddy Lowe leaving Williams and two young talents with a point left to prove, the past seven days provided plenty of fodder for the F1 world.

French GP Fallout: Some races have “it all”, some have none of it – Sunday’s French GP was certainly a case of the latter. No intrigue, no fight at the front, just Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes cruising to victory in a display many are taking as a harbinger of things to come. Unsurprisingly, this has led to much discussion about the current state of “the show”, and whether the proposed changes to the 2021 regulations can fix it. The thing is, F1 has “fixed” its regulations multiple times in recent years, but when it leads to wide, hard-to-follow cars racing on a track like Paul Ricard, it’s clear the decision-makers don’t really know how to go about it. Maybe next time will be different, but then again, they could nail the regs and we still might get one team and one driver operating on a higher level than everyone else – that’s just the nature of F1.

Ocon still on for a F1 return? If there’s anyone who did enjoy the French GP, it was probably the members of the Esteban Ocon fan-club. Both for the rumours that Nico Hulkenberg will not be re-signing with Renault (however unreliable they are), and Pierre Gasly’s dismal performance in the Red Bull (where Hulkenberg is apparently a replacement candidate), it seems Ocon might have an opening at the French team for next year. That said, there’s still an issue of trust between Cyril Abiteboul and Toto Wolff that needs to be resolved, but it would be great to see the 22-year-old back on the grid – really, he never should’ve had to leave it.

Mixed Real-Life Debut for Leigh: Last time we checked in with F1 e-sports champ Brendon Leigh, he had just secured himself a drive in British Formula Ford, and now we have the results. P5 in his first quali – good, P4 in his first race – even better… and then a demotion to 10th for dangerous driving, a crash in his second race, and a pair of retirements in races three and four – let’s just say that’s less than ideal. Still, it’s good to see him show some decent pace from the outset, and as long as he learns from the penalty and crash, he should only get better from here. Will we see him in a F1 car ever? Probably not. Can he still pave the way for someone else to? Absolutely.

Ferrari Appeal Fails Spectacularly: I don’t know what to think at this point. Do Ferrari want everyone to make fun of them? What else can we do when the “quite overwhelming” evidence they boasted of having last week turned out to be Karun Chandhok fiddling with a touchscreen? It doesn’t even matter whether you think the penalty was justified, that was never going to work – did they really think the stewards didn’t have access to the same camera angles as the almighty SkyPad? Someone get these guys a dictionary, and teach them the difference between “evidence”, and “opinion”.

Paddy Lowe Officially Not Returning to Williams: Long suspected since he took a “leave of absence” back in March, we now have confirmation that Paddy Lowe has left Williams permanently. Really, it was hard to see this playing out any other way – either he was one of the main perpetrators of their current mess (in which case they wouldn’t want him back), or he would want to stay as far away from that dumpster fire as possible, lest it tarnish his reputation any further.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if he comes back to F1 at some point in the near future. Regardless of the blame we might ascribe him for the FW42 disaster, there’s no denying his place as the man behind some of the most successful cars of the past 30-odd years, and it would be a great shame for him to go out with a design that is arguably among its worst.