WATCH: Could the track at the French Grand Prix suit Mercedes?
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JOHANNESBURG - Since rejoining the calendar in 2018, the French GP has not witnessed the most exciting of races.
In many respects the track is similar to that of the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in Spain, and fans should expect a comparable experience this weekend. The circuit Paul Ricard is characterised by the 1.8km long Mistral straight, and sweeping corners that quick entries and slow exits. Much like in Spain, overtaking is difficult, although not near-impossible. Highlights of the layout include the Signes corner where cars speed through the turn at 290km/h and the horse-show Turn 11 (Beausset) where driver's experience up to 5g of force.
The track design calls for a low down-force setup, more advantageous to Mercedes, and which reduces the drag and pressure on the rear tyres. Cars, therefore, have better straight-line speed, which could help Mercedes nullify the single lap pace of Red Bull and improve their qualifying.
Pirelli will also employ stricter tyre protocols after the blow-outs of Max Vertappen and Lance Stroll in Baku. The tyre manufacturer found no fault on their part relating to the crashes in Azerbaijan GP, placing the blame on Aston Martin and Red Bull. A more aggressive, softer compound of tyres will be in use over the weekend, which will once again be an advantage to Sir Lewis Hamilton and the Silver Arrows, if the general acceptance that they manage their rear tyres, in particular, is to be believed.
The race on Sunday will be 53 laps long, 5.842km a rotation, and lights out is at 2pm.