With one-third of the Formula One™ season in the books, the paddock returns to Europe for the French Grand Prix, which will kick off the first back-to-back race weekends of the year.
With seven races in the rear-view mirror, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport sits atop the constructors’ and drivers’ standings having won all seven Grands Prix while tallying six double podiums and five 1-2 finishes.
Lewis Hamilton extended the team’s winning streak last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix, but Team Principal Toto Wolff says the weekend at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve was a challenging one.
“Canada was something of a wake-up call for us,” Wolff said. “After a run of very good reliability over the opening six races, we experienced a number of problems over the course of the weekend, almost all of which were of our own making – from the problem with the fuel system on Valtteri’s car in FP1 to the hydraulic leak on Lewis’ car which we had to fix on the morning before the race. We were fortunate that those reliability issues were exposed when we still had the chance to solve them, but we know that they could have easily ruined our weekend and it is down to the great skill of our mechanics that they didn’t.
“We expect another tough fight in France next weekend. The circuit features some similarities to Montreal and the long straights will present a challenge for us. However, unlike Canada, the corner characteristics are spread across a range of speeds, which should play to our advantage. We’re looking forward to the chance to put a few things right again.”
Hamilton led all but one lap of last year’s French Grand Prix — the first time the race had been run since 2008 — and will be eyeing his fourth consecutive victory this season after climbing to the top step of the podium in Spain, Monaco and Canada.
Valtteri Bottas will aim for a return to the podium after finishing outside the top three for the first time this season in Canada.
“Part of our strength over the past three months was that the entire team – at the track, in Brackley and in Brixworth – delivered to a very high level,” Wolff said, “and we need to make sure that we achieve the same high standard again for France.”