For Pierre Gasly this weekends French Grand Prix will see him race in front of a home crowd, with 15,000 fans allowed in each day over the weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard. It will be the first time Gasly has faced his home crowd as a race winner, after his victory in Monza last season.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver has never gone well at his home circuit unfortunately, he will be hoping his podium in Baku last time out though will give him a boost ahead of his home race with thousands of extra pairs of eyes all on him.
The French Grand Prix was missing from the calendar in 2020 due to COVID-19 but makes a welcome return this year. In his previous two races in France, Gasly retired on lap one in 2018 before taking a solitary point in 2019. But for 2021, he is aiming for a much better weekend.
“To be honest, I’ve not done anything special at Paul Ricard in the past. In my first F1 race here I collided with Ocon and had to retire on the opening lap and in 2019 it wasn’t a fantastic weekend and I ended up tenth. Actually, Baku was another track that had never gone well for me until this year and so I’m hoping we can follow the trend and change that this weekend also.”
“The circuit is quite special with plenty of run-off areas, unlike the last two tracks, so the risks are not as high, but it is still quite complicated and technical because there are some types of corner here that you find nowhere else, in particular the Beausset corner in the final sector, the very long right hander followed by the left. In terms of the car, clearly our first job will be to work out the best set-up for this unusual layout.
“I’ve heard the organisers are allowing 15,000 spectators per day to attend, which is great as I was really hoping that fans would be there for my home race. It’s important to be able to share the weekend with them and it’s significant as it will be the first time I will race in front of a home crowd as a Grand Prix winner, after my victory in Monza last year.
“It’s going to make it very special so I’m feeling a bit impatient to experience that. And the podium in Baku has caught people’s attention, so I have had plenty of media interest to deal with. I don’t want to burn out before the weekend begins so we are trying to manage it as well as possible.”
“It is a completely different track in every way” – Tsunoda
For Yuki Tsunoda the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was his best result yet in Formula 1, after taking a super seventh. Tsunoda to his relief now moves onto a circuit he has raced at before back in Formula Three, meaning he is in a much better situation going into the weekend and more importantly the triple header.
Tsunoda has already become known as a driver ready to push the limits, something which he will be able to do with confidence this weekend, with the abundance of run-off at his disposal.
“As for the next round, I have raced in Paul Ricard twice before in Formula 3, which means it is a different situation after Portugal, Monaco and Baku which were all completely new to me, and that will be a positive factor. Ricard will be different in a Formula 1 car and Sector 3 will be key to the lap, with tyre degradation maybe being an important factor. It’s quite a flat track and, unlike the last two races, there are no walls!”
“There are very big run-off areas, so I don’t have to be as cautious in my approach as I find the limit. Set-up wise it will also be very different to Azerbaijan where our car worked really well, as there are no low speed right-angle corners. It is a completely different track in every way. I am looking forward to it and hope I can finish in the points again.”