French Grand Prix Preview

Photo: Williams F1

Although the Canadian Grand Prix featured more of the same for Williams, in the end there seemed to be some noticeable improvement, which was confirmed by George Russell after the race.

Leading up to the Grand Prix weekend George Russell gave an interview explaining Williams’ current development strategy. Basically, the team is so far behind everyone else that they can allow themselves to treat each race as a test session. Russell added the team does not want to bring small updates here and there, but is focused on introducing a significant upgrade by the mid-season point.

However there were some improvements introduced for the Canadian Grand Prix. Mercedes introduced an upgraded power unit that was made available to all of its customer teams, including Williams. Apart from that, Williams also introduced a modified front suspension which Russell, Kubica and Latifi all praised as a move in the right direction.

In the race itself it was more of the same, but while Russell managed to find some improved pace, Kubica unfortunately found the car to be unpredictable and hard to drive. The Briton managed to finish the race in P16, while the Pole finished in P18.

Now it’s back to Europe and the legendary Circuit Paul Ricard. Williams won at Paul Ricard on three occasions: in 1980 with Alan Jones and in 1986 and 1987 with Nigel Mansell. However in 1986 and 1987 the shorter circuit layout was used.

Robert Kubica has experience with the track from his days in the lower open-seater series, while George Russell won the Formula 2 feature race there last year. France will mark Nicholas Latifi’s second FP1 outing this season and this time he will be replacing George Russell.

Follow our French Grand Prix coverage here.

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Comments from the team

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “We return to the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, which is one of the oldest motor races in the world. The layout of the circuit chosen for the race is 5.8km long and includes several long straights and some demanding corners, like Signes (T10) – the quick right-hander at the end of the Mistral straight – and the ‘double right’ at T11 are the most significant.

“Pirelli have made available the middle three compounds from their range, the same combination that was used in Australia, China and Azerbaijan, and this is likely to lead to a variety of one and two-stop races.

“Following a successful and productive outing in FP1 in Canada two weeks ago, our Reserve Driver, Nicholas Latifi will again drive the FW42, this time sharing FP1 duties with Robert. We have a test programme which will continue to help us understand the long-term potential of the car, as well as concentrating on tyre performance and setup specific to Paul Ricard.”

Robert Kubica: “It is time for the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard returned after a long break in the Formula One calendar, and this will be the second year where modern F1 cars have raced there. I know the track pretty well from previous series and tests, such as Formula 3 and World Series by Renault. I am looking forward to racing there once again as it is a unique track with no gravel traps or run-off areas, so it is very safe. The combination of high-speed long corners, long straights and low speed corners make it a challenging circuit. I am looking forward to what should be a hot weekend, that will be demanding on the tyres with the high-speed long corners putting a lot of stress and energy into the tyres. We will need to investigate these factors to prepare for the race.”

George Russell: “I am really looking forward to driving at Paul Ricard and returning to the European leg of the season. It has been great fun racing overseas, but it will be nice to get back to some tracks that we know well and can maximise. Last year in FIA Formula 2, France was a great event for me, as I won the feature race.”

Nicholas Latifi: “I’m excited to continue my FP1 programme with the team in France coming off a successful weekend in Canada. Montreal had a lot of positives and I’m looking to build on those experiences going into Le Castellet. It’s quite a different track with a lot less risk involved due to the nature of the circuit which will give me confidence to push a bit harder. It’s also a weekend where I will be mixing my F1 duties with an F2 race weekend, which poses a unique challenge. I’m more than up for it and looking forward to what will be a very busy weekend.”

Source: Williams F1

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