Who doesn’t like a trip to the French Riviera? That’s what we’ve got this weekend for Round 12 of the 2022 F1 schedule. The French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard is upon us on Sunday morning. It was taken off the F1 schedule for a while but made a grand reappearance in 2018 and has been there each year since with the exclusion of the Covid year in 2020. It’s one of the favorite tracks the schedule amongst the drivers and teams thanks to its’ layout.

Circuit Paul Ricard Track Layout

Le Castellet as it’s known as well, is a 15-turn 3.6-mile layout. It’s a great balance of straights, high-, medium-, and low-speed corners that makes it imperative to have the right balance in the car. There is a ton of run off area around nearly the entire circuit, however, you still don’t want to wind up there. Even though it’s not grass or gravel, the painted stripes are rough on the tires and will almost certainly force the driver to pit for a new set of Pirellis. Since being brought back to the F1 schedule in 2018, there have been a ton of passing zones found on the track as drivers can choose different braking spots and apexes in the several of the corners.

F1 DFS French Grand Prix Strategy

Even though we mentioned above that there are passing chances at this track and we’ve seen drivers finishing in the Championship points who start in the back of the field, that’s only part of the strategy. Each of the three winners here since the track was brought back in 2018 started on the pole. If they can make it through the first corner at the start, it can be tough to pass for the lead. However, the cars this year should allow for closer racing and might make that stat irrelevant. There will be some chalkier plays in the grid based on qualifying but there are also some interesting contrarian plays that can make the difference in tournament builds. This might just be a weekend in which the constructor and captain spot don’t have to be stacked to maximize the points in a lineup.

Practice To Qualifying

The following chart shows the driver’s ranking for each practice session, where they’re starting for the race and the difference between their starting spot and average practice speeds.

DriverTeamQualQual To Avg.FP1FP2FP3
Charles LeclercFerrari1-1.0123
Max VerstappenRed Bull20.0231
Sergio PerezRed Bull3-4.06105
Lewis HamiltonMercedes41.0054
Lando NorrisMcLaren5-2.3769
George RussellMercedes61.3446
Fernando AlonsoAlpine7-4.015117
Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri8-6.0181410
Daniel RicciardoMcLaren9-1.010911
Esteban OconAlpine10-6.0131817
Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo112.301214
Sebastian VettelAston Martin12-3.7141320
Alex AlbonWilliams132.38168
Pierre GaslyAlphatauri145.75713
Lance StrollAston Martin150.0121518
Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo161.7111715
Mick SchumacherHaas17-1.0161919
Nicholas LatifiWilliams180.7202012
Carlos SainzFerrari1917.0312
Kevin MagnussenHaas206.317816

Formula 1 DFS French Grand Prix Top Plays

Red Bull

Drivers: Max Verstappen ($18,000 D: $12,000) Sergio Perez ($13,500 D:$9,000)

Constructor: $11,900

Starting Spots: Verstappen P2, Perez P3

They’re starting 2-3. I mean, we’ve come to expect that from them at this point. Verstappen traded fast laps with the Ferrari duo all weekend and arguably could’ve won the pole had Ferrari not used Sainz as a free tow for Leclerc. Just because he’s not on the pole though doesn’t mean that he can’t dominate the race, we’ve seen him do it before for basically every win this year. Perez is an interesting option this weekend. The practice times weren’t nearly as quick as his teammate but in races that hasn’t mattered much as Checo always seems to show up on race days. The best comp to Sunday’s race for Checo would be Imola where he started P3 finished P2 and posted 19 points. A double podium is pretty much expected for red Bull along with a chunk of laps led as they have faster cars in the straights than Ferrari does. If they don’t lead laps though, some of the upside disappears.


Drivers: Charles Leclerc ($16,800 D: $11,200) Carlos Sainz ($14,400 D: $9,600)

Constructor: $10,800

Starting Spots: Leclerc P1, Sainz P19

The prancing horses as they’re known certainly were galloping quickly this weekend. Both teammates have occupied all three positions in practice at one point or another and both would’ve challenged for the pole had Sainz run an actual timed lap in Q3. As it stands for Sunday, Leclerc is on pole and Sainz is starting P19 due to power unit penalties. What does this mean for DFS? Well we can expect Leclerc to battle for the lead much of the race if not lead all or most of the laps (keep in mind the pole-sitter has won each of the last three races here), while Sainz will come flying up through the field. The question is will LEC’s car hold up and hold off the Red Bull duo. If he can, and Sainz finishes top-five, it’s a massive points haul at constructor and captain. There’s an argument to be made to play both Sainz and Leclerc and play perhaps Mercedes at constructor to maximize points.


Drivers: Lewis Hamilton ($15,300 D: $10,200) George Russell ($12,600 D: $8,400)

Constructor: $9,700

Starting Spots: Hamilton P4, Russell P6

Mercedes has seemed to find their footing over the last several races and even though there was chatter about this being an off-weekend for them, that’s not born out to be true. They’re starting P4 and P6 with legitimate top-five speed in both cars. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them sneak a double podium either. There are a few questions about the cars in front of them on the grid and passing can happen at Circuit Paul Ricard. They make a very interesting constructor option to save some money there and get off the Red Bull and Ferrari chalk.


Drivers: Fernando Alonso ($10,500 D: $7,000) Esteban Ocon ($8,700 D: $5,800)

Constructor: $5,900

Starting Spots: Alonso P7, Ocon P10

There is pressure on Alpine to perform well on Sunday. They’re a French team racing in France with a French driver in the car as well. Speaking of a non-french driver though, Alonso has gotten faster each time on the track this weekend and looks very racy in race setup. He’s been known as a guy that can make his car very wide when needed as well which could come into play on Sunday. Ocon hasn’t scored points at the French Grand Prix yet in his career and would love to on Sunday. Regardless of practice times this year, Ocon has managed to finish better than he’s started in eight of the 11 races and defeated Alonso in eight of them as well. There’s a shot that Alonso is played more at a similar price point because of his practice speeds but Ocon has been good at showing up on race day and posting double-digit scores seven times.


Drivers: Lando Norris ($11,400 D: $7,600) Daniel Ricciardo ($8,100 D: $5,400)

Constructor: $5,600

Starting Spots: Norris P5, Ricciardo P9

The updates are finally kicking in for Lando. He really put down some flying laps late in FP3 and in Qualifying to start in the top-five. It’s the same story however for Ricciardo as it’s been all year, he’s still not comfortable in the car. He said as much to the Sky Sports commentators this weekend and the slower times than Norris showed that. Norris is also coming off back-to-back 14-point races and has three races over 14 points in the last five races. Ricciardo could crack the top-10 given he’s been hovering there all weekend but does that really bring points? If he replicates his showing in Austria, starting P11 and finishing P9 but losing to Norris, that’s three points. While it could be contrarian to play McLaren we’re looking at like 17 points tops if the race plays out how we expect it to.

Alfa Romeo

Drivers: Valtteri Bottas ($9,900 D: $6,600) Guanyu Zhou ($4,800 D: $3,200)

Constructor: $4,400

Starting Spots: Bottas P11, Zhou P16

Bottas only got two practice sessions on track this week due to a developmental driver getting a crack behind the wheel in FP1. When he was on the track though he was just outside the top-10 in speed. His teammate has been a bit up-and-down in speed all weekend which makes it a tad tricky to sort out exactly what he has. With Magnussen and Sainz coming from the back, I’d give the edge in value to Bottas who has good experience on this track and has beaten his teammate all but once this year. Bottas should also have a shot at passing a few of the guys in front of him for a finish between P7 and P10.

Haas F1

Drivers: Kevin Magnussen ($6,000 D: $4,000) Mick Schumacher ($5,700 D: $3,800)

Constructor: $3,900

Starting Spots: Magnussen P20, Schumacher P17

What an interesting weekend for Haas. Both drivers have shown a ton of speed on the track but haven’t gotten the results for their efforts. It might be easy to dismiss the starting spots because it’s Haas but K-Mag ran top-eight in FP2 and made Q3 before the grid penalty moved him back to the rear for a power unit swap. Schumacher for his part ran the seventh-best lap time in Q1 but had it deleted by going over track limits by an inch. There is a reasonable shot that both Haas cars can score points even starting back here as they’ve demonstrated that ability already this year. They could be a contrarian constructor play if we assume the laps will be split by a few different drivers.


Drivers: Pierre Gasly ($9,300 D: $6,200) Yuki Tsunoda ($6,600 D: $4,400)

Constructor: $3,600

Starting Spots: Gasly P14, Tsunoda P8

Tsunoda has gotten faster every time on the track. He started P18 in practice then went P14 then P10 before qualifying P8. Gasly has been going the opposite direction. Based on Friday’s sessions he’s a top-seven car, based on Saturday he’s in the 13-14 range. This is a home track for Gasly with him being French but if we’re going on trends, Tsunoda is going the better direction. In terms of defeated teammate, Gasly leads 6-5 on the season but has had to earn four of the last five to bring the count to that. That fact could lead to Tsunoda being the lower played option of the two.

Aston Martin

Drivers: Sebestian Vettel ($7,500 D: $5,000) Lance Stroll ($6,300 D: $4,200)

Constructor: $3,200

Starting Spots: Vettel P12, Stroll P15

This is an interesting team this week. While they’re likely out of the discussion as a constructor option, it doesn’t mean either driver shouldn’t be played. Vettel qualified about where we expected based on FP1 and FP2 but Stroll is the real interesting one. He ran a bit faster in practice than where he qualified. He’s also nearly tied up the defeated teammate count with Vettel at this point. Knowing that there’s about a 50-50 shot that Stroll winds up finishing better than Vettel and they both averaged 13.5 best speed across the first two practices save the money and go with Stroll.


Drivers: Alexander Albon ($5,400 D: $3,600) Nicholas Latifi ($4,500 D: $3,000)

Constructor: $3,000

Starting Spots: Albon P13, Latifi P18

As is generally the case each, this is really just a write up for Albon. He’s clearly the better driver in this garage with Latifi almost assuredly running out of chances to stick in F1 at this point. Albon showed top-10 speed a few times at practice and should be able to move up through the field a bit. He might be a popular play for a cheap price tag, he has a bunch of scoring potential with the chance to finish top-10 and almost certainly beat his teammate.