Williams preview the French Grand Prix

It’s round eight and it’s the return of the French Grand Prix! Located near Le Castellet in the south of France, Paul Ricard hosted the first French Grand Prix in 1971 up until 1990 when the track became outdated.

Williams has enjoyed much success at Paul Ricard with a number of race wins, podiums and pole positions during the seventies and eighties. In 1986, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet qualified first and third. The pair went one better the following season with a one-two finish at the 1987 French Grand Prix. The Circuit Paul Ricard has since been updated to create a challenging and thrilling race for the return of the French Grand Prix in 2018.

For France, Pirelli has made available the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres.

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: This weekend sees the return of the French GP to the Formula One calendar. France has a great history of racing so it will be fantastic to make our first return to the country since the last race was held in 2008 in Magny-Cours. This weekend however, Formula One returns to Paul Ricard for the first race since 1990. It is a place we know very well with the team having spent many long winters there between 1989-1992. There are many memories from our previous visits to Paul Ricard, but one that stands out personally was when Williams first tested traction control here with the FW14B during the winter of 1991. Damon Hill was behind the wheel and he thought it was holding him back, but he was actually a second a lap faster! Situated at Le Castellet, near Marseille, the circuit is well-known for its long Mistral straight and elongated track design. The track is also quite unique as it is built on a plateau, and so is very flat. It is a good challenge and we look forward to putting on a good show for the French fans.

Lance Stroll: I know the Paul Ricard track from when I drove in Formula 3. I had a good time there and won a race, but I have to be honest because I can’t say I like it. It is just run offs everywhere and I am not a big fan. However, it is always interesting to go back to somewhere I have raced before and see what it is like in a Formula One car.

Sergey Sirotkin: Paul Ricard is quite a well-known track for me. I did thousands of kilometres there last year. Although I know the track quite well, there are a lot of things that change over a race weekend that you never know. It’s a new track for everyone so it will be nice to see where we end up.