The F1 juggernaut has arrived in the south of France for the eighth race of what is becoming one of the most closely fought seasons in recent Formula 1 history.

The Circuit Paul Ricard is the venue that is hosting the eighth sound, and it was back on the calendar after a 28-year hiatus. Moreover, the French Grand Prix forms the first race in the sport’s first triple-header, which will see the teams compete in three races in as many weekends.

After the race in France, the teams will travel to the Red Bull Ring in Austria before convening for the final race of the triple-header at Silverstone in the United Kingdom.

It is certain to test all the teams to the limit, including the drivers, who will have little time before switch off and get ready for a different driving test as all circuits have their own unique characteristics. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff welcomed the challenge and believes it will also serve as an opportunity for teams to score a lot of points and build momentum going into the rest of the campaign.

The Silver Arrows team have started off the best compared to their rivals Ferrari and Red Bull by locking out the front row in qualifying. Lewis Hamilton edged out his teammate Valtteri Bottas to take the first pole position at the new Circuit Paul Ricard.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third place as he resumes his title battle with Hamilton. The German is currently leading the championship standings by one point from the Mercedes driver, who is the favorite to take the win in the race on Sunday.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo came in fourth and fifth ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The surprise package of qualifying was Charles Leclerc, who qualified his Alfa Romeo Sauber in eighth place – the team’s first foray into Q3 in four seasons.

However, there is a 40 percent chance of rain predicted during the race Sunday, which is likely to throw a curve ball into most teams’ strategies. Mercedes are favorite at the moment, but as we have seen many a times this season it very rarely goes according to plan.

Where to watch live

The race gets underway at 10 a.m. EDT on June 24 with live TV coverage being provided by ESPN 2 in the United States. Live Streaming is available via the ESPN app. Univision Deportes Network will provide F1 coverage in Spanish.

Provisional starting grid: 

1. Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES

2. Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES

3. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI

4. Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING

5. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING

6. Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI

7. Carlos Sainz RENAULT

8. Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI

9. Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI

10. Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI

11. Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES

12. Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT

13. Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES

14. Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA

15. Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI

16. Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT

17. Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA

18. Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT

19. Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES

20. Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES