Oxford’s William team French Grand Prix Review

The Formula One paddock returns to Le Castellet this weekend, with the French Grand Prix marking the start of the 2021 season’s first triple-header. Circuit Paul Ricard is characterised by its mix of high-speed straights and the technically demanding sequences of low and medium-speed corners. The 5.842km track is arguably one of the most recognisable on the calendar, with black, red and blue run-off zones giving it a distinctive look.

Roy Nissany, the team’s Test Driver, will run the FW43B for Friday’s first practice session, taking to the track in place of George Russell who will return to the car for FP2.

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: Following back-to-back street races, we head to the impressive Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France for round seven of the 2021 Championship. The layout and character of the circuit couldn’t be more different to Monaco and Baku, with considerably more run-off area should a driver push just beyond the limit.

The circuit sits 400m above sea level and is close to the coast, making it exposed to high winds. The long straights are punctuated by several complexes of technical corners. The low-speed section that leads on to the Mistral straight is tight and requires agility from the setup but is not too hard on the tyres. In contrast, the faster, technical section from Signes to the end of the lap is demanding on the tyres and drivers and requires some management in order to complete the best possible single lap in qualifying.

This weekend we welcome back Roy Nissany who will drive George’s car in FP1. As usual, Roy will take an active role in our engineering programme, further evaluating some of the components that we introduced in Azerbaijan. His experience of driving at this circuit and his feeling for the car will help us understand the details of the new parts. Nicholas will follow a similar programme in FP1, mixing his race preparation with some component testing. George will be back in the car for FP2 and will concentrate on his race preparation.

This is the first of three back-to-back races and whilst the schedule is demanding for the team, everyone is looking forward to getting the most out of FW43B at two different and iconic circuits, firstly here in France and then in Austria for the second and third parts of the triple-header.

George Russell: I’m looking forward to going back racing again. Paul Ricard is a very tricky circuit with numerous different types of corner. Turn 11 is one of the most challenging physically, both on the driver and on the car, on the entire calendar and is a joy to drive. I’m also looking forward to three races in a row, as we move onward to Austria after France, and the season really starting to hot up.

Nicholas Latifi: I’m extremely excited to get back racing again, especially after what I felt were some strong performances in Monaco and Baku. I’ll definitely be looking to keep that momentum as we move on to Paul Ricard. It’s quite a different track to those we have just been at, so I’m curious to see how the car performs around a more conventional circuit. It’s also the first round of a triple-header, so I am hoping for a good result to set the bar for the races ahead.

Roy Nissany: I can’t wait to be back in the car, it’s very addictive! Circuit Paul Ricard is a special track for me, I love the layout and have great memories from there. The last sector is usually very challenging, and I can’t wait to experience it in the FW43B.