Will Red Bull be able to keep up with Mercedes at Paul Ricard in 2021?

15-06-2021 09:04 | Updated: 15-06-2021 09:59
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Will Red Bull be able to keep up with Mercedes at Paul Ricard in 2021?

It has taken a while, but in 2021 we will have a French Grand Prix again. Due to the coronavirus, the 2020 edition didn't go ahead, so we have to go back to 2019 for the last race at Paul Ricard, which hasn't been a successful venue for Max Verstappen for the time being.

French Grand Prix

In 2018, the French Grand Prix returned to the calendar for the first time since 2008, and it did so at the Paul Ricard circuit. Not the most spectacular circuit, used mostly for testing. There are many different types of corners and different layouts are possible. For an F1 race, it has not been a great success yet.

Paul Ricard was also used as a circuit for the French GP in the past, but the last editions between 1991 and 2008 were held at Magny-Cours. So 2018 saw the return of Paul Ricard to the calendar, and it was Lewis Hamilton who managed to win both editions so far and also got to start from pole at both editions.

Chasing Mercedes

Where Verstappen managed to get second place at the first French GP in years in 2018, he didn't get the same in 2019. In qualifying, Verstappen came to fourth place, behind Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc. Verstappen had to concede more than a second to Hamilton's time and was also half a second slower than Leclerc.

In the race, that difference was painfully obvious. Hamilton drove to an easy victory, with Bottas and Leclerc behind him. Verstappen retained P4, despite Sebastian Vettel having perhaps the better car from behind the field. Pierre Gasly had a really bad day for Red Bull. He finished just tenth.

In 2021 we will be watching to see the effect of the FIA's new rear wing test. Will Red Bull Racing and the other teams with a 'Flexwing' lose much ground now that they have had to design a new wing, or will the effect of the test not materialise? Mercedes have always been dominant in France until now and have been the strongest on the permanent circuits this season. So there is a good chance Hamilton can continue his run at Paul Ricard.

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