- One of the big talking points at Paul Ricard on Thursday was, predictably, Sebastian Vettel’s time penalty in Canada, with drivers agreeing that it was a harsh but – going by the rulebook – fair decision by the stewards. A number of drivers called for a look at the sporting regulations to allow for more individual cases to be reviewed by the stewards, instead of having the current black-and-white approach.

- The FIA confirmed that Ferrari’s hearing for its right of review of the penalty will be heard on Friday afternoon at Paul Ricard just before FP2. Ferrari will be asked to present new evidence at the hearing that was not available at the time, with Vettel himself seeming hopeful of the team’s chances of doing so.

- In more important (real-life) news for Vettel, Bild reported that the German got married to his long-term partner Hanna in the break since Canada. Vettel was wearing a new gold ring on his hand through Thursday.

- Red Bull and Toro Rosso will both be boosted by a new ‘Spec 3’ power unit from Honda in France this weekend as the Japanese manufacturer continues to meet its targets for bringing through updates. Both Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly said they doubted the change would vault the team to the front, though. “I’m not expecting to suddenly lead the pack, but every little step we can have we take it,” Verstappen said.

- Verstappen confirmed that he would like to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future, revealing he has spoken to his father, former racer Jos, about the possibility of racing there together. The Red Bull-designed Aston Martin Valkyrie will debut at Le Mans in 2021 as part of the new Hypercar-led top class replacing LMP1.

- Another father/son duo we could possibly see at Le Mans in the future is Kevin and Jan Magnussen, the latter having been part of Corvette’s team once again last weekend. “I’ve always said I would love to do a race with my dad, and now with these hypercars, who knows what factories are going to commit to that and get into that?” said Kevin. “I would love to do that with my dad. That’s the dream for me, to do it with my dad.”

- Gasly and compatriot Romain Grosjean will both race with special French Grand Prix helmets this weekend. Gasly’s will incorporate the colours of the French flag, while Grosjean has a design from Richard Orlinski, who designed the gorilla trophies and statues seen at Paul Ricard last year.

- Gasly was one of a number of drivers to take part in a charity football match on Wednesday in support of the Jules Bianchi Foundation in Bandol, with Charles Leclerc and Felipe Massa also taking part. Gasly also took part in a pre-race media event where he acted as a co-driver to rally champion Sebastien Ogier, calling the experience “intense”.

Lewis Hamilton was excused from Thursday’s media duties in France so he could attend the memorial held for Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer who died in February. Hamilton was due to arrive at the track late on Thursday, according to Mercedes, with his first open media briefing now being set for Saturday after qualifying.

- The reprofiled pit entry is in place for this year’s race after complaints about its approach last year. Drivers entering the pit lane exiting the final corner last year were effectively pointing at Mercedes’ garage, making it a tight squeeze for all teams. This year, drivers will peel off at Turn 14 before turning right, ensuring a safer entry to the pits. The pit lane speed limit has also been reduced to 60 km/h for the weekend.

- Renault debuted its new hospitality unit for its home grand prix in France, ditching the previous split structure in favour of a big, open-plan home for the team and its guests that will now be used at all races. Red Bull is also using its MotoGP motorhome for this weekend’s race.

- French Grand Prix organisers took the opportunity to invite a number of schools into the paddock on Thursday to get a taste for F1 and the event, leading to a more jovial, youthful atmosphere around Paul Ricard amid the usual media day matters.

- Giving a French flair to the Paul Ricard paddock was the addition of a boulangerie and a beach bar – complete with sand! – nestled between the motorhomes and hospitality units.

 

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