Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton: “we need to carry this performance through the weekend”

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton has urged his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1 team to “carry this performance through the weekend” after the reigning champion topped both FP1 and FP2 at the Paul Ricard circuit.

After losing his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel in the previous round in Canada, Hamilton was immediately on the pace in the opening 90-minute session. 

A time of 1m:32.231s on ultrasoft tyres was the benchmark in the first F1 event in France for a decade, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed a 1-2 on the timing sheets, just over a tenth behind.

The British driver also clocked the fastest time in the afternoon session, but was marginally slower than he was in the morning. Once again on ultrasoft Pirelli tyres, he lapped in a time of 1m:32.539s. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was second fastest.

Key to Hamilton’s pace was the fact that all Mercedes-powered cars were running a new engine, complete with upgrade for the first time.

The unit had been due to be used in Canada, but quality-control issues led to the team delaying the introduction until post-Montreal.

The new engine feels clean and fresh, but we won’t know its full potential until tomorrow when everyone gets to turn their engines up,” explained Hamilton.

It was a good session today [and] now we need to carry on this performance through the weekend.

I’m grateful for the hard work that everyone put into it back in Brixworth. They’ve been pushing so hard to get this engine and so it in the right way, – so a big thank-you to everyone back at the factory – I hope that we can do something great with it!”

New track is a “challenge”

The last French Grand Prix was held in 2008 at the Magny-Cours circuit, while the Paul Ricard circuit’s last GP was in 1990, won by Alain Prost. 

It’s always a challenge when you come to a new circuit,” said Hamilton. “You’re constantly learning new things and I love the challenge of trying to get into the swing of it before everyone else.”

To improve overtaking opportunities, a chicane has been placed on the famed Mistral straight, and due to the number of circuit layouts possible, Hamilton admitted there was are “a couple places on the back straight, [where] it is really hard to see.”


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Jake Nichol is a motorsport journalist writing about the Formula 1 world championship for The Checkered Flag. He is currently freelancing for Autosport, where his work includes IndyCar, NASCAR and UK-wide national race meetings.
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