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French Grand Prix: Hamilton worth taking on

Lewis Hamilton trails Sebastian Vettel by one point as the Formula One circus moves on to the French Grand Prix this weekend.

France is back on the F1 calendar following a decade-long absence and Paul Ricard - a track F1 has not visited since 1990 - is the host venue for the comeback.

Situated 25 miles to the east of Marseille in the south of France, and despite it not being a race venue for nearly 30 years, the circuit has been used by Pirelli for a number of tyre tests in recent seasons.

After two processional races in Monaco and Montreal, F1 is in need of an exciting race, and the unpredictable variables that are synonymous with a new track could provide just that.

Hamilton will also hope the new venue brings a change in fortunes. Aside from his impressive displays in Australia and Spain, Hamilton has not been at his best this year but traditionally is stronger in the second half of the season.

Hamilton may have had an old engine in Canada, and admitted he was relieved to have finished fifth, but Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was also down on power and he finished second behind Vettel.

The Briton faces an anxious wait to discover if Mercedes will be able to push ahead with their planned engine upgrade for this weekend's race and with his form below par, it seems a good time to take on the favourite.

Hamilton is 11/8 for victory in the French Grand Prix odds but Mercedes have made errors at four of the seven rounds so far and cracks are certainly beginning to emerge, with team boss Toto Wolff describing the Canadian Grand Prix as a "major wake-up call" for his team.

"I'm the opposite of confident moving forward," he said. "Everybody needs to assess how to improve our performance.

"This year's championship is going to be decided by the one who makes the least mistakes. This is the new reality. It is a three-way team fight and six cars can win races. We cannot take anything for granted and think it is going to be a walk in the park."

Vettel arrived in Montreal without a win in his last four races but, after edging out Bottas for pole and beating the Mercedes car off the starting line, he did not put a foot wrong and was thoroughly deserving of victory.

The German has gained 18 points on Hamilton in the last two races and Vettel is our French Grand Prix betting tip at odds of 9/5.

Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in F1