Could Mercedes return to winning ways? 

Since introducing a new upgrade package at the British Grand Prix, Mercedes have enjoyed a step forward in competitiveness and were able to properly mix it up at the front of the field for the first time this season at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton looked to have a genuine shot at victory at his home race before he eventually had to settle with third place behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez following a dramatic late Safety Car restart. 

Although Mercedes were unable to replicate that level of performance in Austria, the team were still closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than they expected at a circuit that has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Silver Arrows in recent years, with Hamilton picking up his third consecutive podium finish. 

Mercedes are expected to be stronger again in France thanks to the characteristics at Paul Ricard, which features high-speed corners and a smooth track surface, two factors that bring out the best in the W13. 

Despite suffering a narrow defeat to Max Verstappen at last year’s French Grand Prix, Mercedes boast a strong record at Paul Ricard, with Hamilton winning two of the three races to be held in the South of France since the race’s revival in 2018.

With further upgrades rumoured to be introduced by the German manufacturer across the next two races, will France be where Mercedes finally brings their winning drought in 2022 to an end? 

Can Leclerc make up more ground on Verstappen? 

Charles Leclerc’s commanding victory at the Austria Grand Prix was a crucial result and one that has helped revive his title hopes. 

It was Leclerc’s first win since Melbourne back in April and has seen the Monegasque cut Verstappen’s championship lead to 38 points at the halfway mark of the season. 

After a run of success for Verstappen and Red Bull, the momentum has swung back towards Ferrari of late, thanks in part to a recent upgrade that has helped the Scuderia address their most significant deficit to their main rival. 

Ferrari will be determined to keep their recent run of strong form going heading into a crucial double header before the summer break, with Leclerc seeking back-to-back victories - and what would be Ferrari’s third win in a row - at Paul Ricard. 

With Ferrari and Red Bull so evenly matched in terms of performance, strong reliability will be crucial. And it is a factor that has already had huge implications for both leading title protagonists this year.

After Verstappen and Red Bull were hit by gremlins during the early rounds of the season, Ferrari are battling ongoing reliability dramas of their own. Brutal engine failures for Leclerc while leading in Spain and Azerbaijan have put him on the back foot in the championship compared to Verstappen. 

Ferrari hit more trouble in Austria last time out as Carlos Sainz retired with a spectacular engine failure, before Leclerc faced a tense final few laps with a sticking throttle. 

If Leclerc is going to take the fight to Verstappen and make it a proper duel for this year’s drivers’ crown, Ferrari cannot afford anymore reliability hiccups. 

Will Alpine overhaul McLaren on home soil? 

Alpine have made encouraging progress after introducing a string of updates at the last two races. 

A major aerodynamic package at the British Grand Prix and a further upgrade in Austria have improved Alpine’s competitiveness and moved the team closer to the front of the midfield pack. 

Fernando Alonso finished an excellent fifth at Silverstone and it would have been a double score had Esteban Ocon not suffered a late mechanical problem that forced him to retire. It was then Ocon’s turn to take fifth in Austria as Alonso completed an impressive recovery charge to 10th from the very back of the grid. 

Alpine heads into this weekend’s French Grand Prix sitting fifth in the constructors’ championship, tied level on 81 points with fourth-placed McLaren.

Boosted by the backing of strong home support, and with both drivers performing at a high level, Alpine will be optimistic about their chances of out-scoring their main midfield rival once again and leapfrogging them in the championship. 

More points for improving Schumacher? 

Prior to a major breakthrough at the British Grand Prix, Mick Schumacher was facing question marks following a difficult start to the season. 

Expensive crashes in Saudi Arabia and Monaco led to Schumacher receiving a warning from Haas boss Guenther Steiner, while the German found himself under mounting pressure to replicate the sort of results managed by teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Schumacher finally ended his long wait for F1 points at his 31st grand prix with a brilliant drive to eighth place at Silverstone. 

He went on to better that result and make it back-to-back point-scoring finishes with P7 at the Red Bull Ring, helping Haas secure their best weekend since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix. 

It has marked quite the turnaround in form for 23-year-old Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, who is growing in confidence. 

Schumacher now heads to a venue where he secured his first Q2 appearance in F1 last year. He will be looking to go even better this time around and capitalise on his new-found momentum. 

With Haas set to introduce their first upgrade package of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of the month, Schumacher will hope that points can be a regular target.