F1 2021
Round 7

#FrenchGP Race Setup

fr Circuit Paul Ricard

Bonjour Paul Ricard! After a near two year wait, we're returning home with Pierre for the French Grand Prix at this popular venue on the Cote d’Azur.

#FrenchGP Race Setup

Our last run out in 2019 saw only one of our four Honda powered cars finish in the points, so in 2021 we'll be aiming for the podium and a strong weekend for both teams.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
After a double podium finish in Baku, we now start a triple-header in Europe, beginning with the French GP at Paul Ricard. The circuit is located in the hills, just inland from the famous French Riviera and the track has a very technical layout, with four straights connected by low, medium and high speed corners. The car therefore requires a combination of good top speed along with excellent balance to deal with a variety of corner types taken at different speeds.

We come here leading the championship with Red Bull Racing Honda and next week we move on to Austria for two races on consecutive weekends at Red Bull’s home track. Therefore this is an important three weeks as, although the championship will not be decided now, these three races will set the shape of the championship for the next part of the season. As for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, the French Grand Prix is also the home race for Pierre Gasly, so there are many reasons why this is a significant moment in the season for both our teams. We can expect strong opposition and very close racing in all the upcoming races and we will be doing our best to ensure the positive trend we have seen recently continues with both our teams.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I feel very, very proud. It’s a victory that really shows the amount of work that we’ve all put in since the start of January and shows how hard work always pays off. It’s also a great boost for the whole team to know that we’ve got two cars that can fight for the championship and that we all really want to win. I thought that I had everything to lose, it’s only two laps, I’m on pole and it’s our race to be lost. So I just tried to do the perfect start and for many reasons that didn’t happen but in the end I think we got lucky because who knows what would have happened if we got a good start with Lewis having issues with his brakes, so in the end it all worked out. I spoke with Stefano after the race and told him “you guys really like the show!” and he said “well this is fantastic for the fans”. I think we’ve got a pretty good Team! I think what Max did was great to see, he really deserved the win and he did everything perfectly that weekend, he was just very unlucky. Alex as well is putting so much work into the simulator and with the engineers. I remember when I came here, I didn’t expect him to be so open but he explained how the car works and that was very nice to have him around since day one. So I really appreciated that and I appreciate the work that he’s doing with the Team. It’s only race six and as I say it doesn’t really matter where we are now it’s where we finish in Abu Dhabi so we just have to keep chipping away, making sure we maximise our car potential. I’ve been in Formula One for many years that I know that so many things can happen, so we just have to keep our heads down, now what has happened is history and we just have to keep looking forwards.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
Of course I would have liked to have won and it’s fair to say that we were on course to win in Baku, but that’s racing and these things happen. Sometimes it’s out of your hands so we just have to keep going and move on. We are still leading the championship and of course I would like to be leading with more points but it is what it is. It’s great to have two cars up at the front fighting for the championship and also scoring the points. Baku was a great example of that and how it should be done. It’s great that Checo was able to make the gap to Mercedes bigger in the constructor’s championship and that he’s now third in the driver’s championship. I’m feeling good but I'm sure that Mercedes will be very strong on the 'normal' tracks again, so we have to keep pushing and keep improving right to the very end because it’s never enough. So far the season has been pretty good to us but we need to remember that there are still a lot of races ahead of us. I am happy with the race results that we have had so far and that we are leading the championship, but we also have to be there leading it in Abu Dhabi, that’s all that matters. The Circuit Paul Ricard is a fast track. There are a fast few corners towards the end of the lap and you also have to be quite careful with tyre degradation. There’s also a lot of run off so sometimes it’s a bit weird because there is so much space, which is of course completely different than the two street circuits we’ve just been to. I’m looking forward to going back there and hopefully stepping on the top step of the podium.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I feel my podium in Baku was well deserved as the whole weekend was excellent, everything was going well in free practice and I felt really comfortable in the car, the potential was there. We improved the car for Saturday, impressively quickest in FP3 and then in Qualifying it was the first time we were really fighting for the chance of pole position, ending up a couple of thousandths off the fastest time. We knew we could do something from fourth on the grid and it was a complicated race, especially as we had to turn down the power a bit in the second stint. It was down to good teamwork, making the right choices when it mattered, in Qualifying and in terms of strategy and also the pit stop went well. Yuki was on the pace as well from Saturday, on a track that’s not easy, so it was a really solid weekend for the team. Earlier in the year we had some good Saturdays, although Sunday didn’t always go as well, but the last two races we did an excellent job with no mistakes. It was just what we needed and to be rewarded with a third-place podium is super.
It’s come at just the right time, as we now have my home race at Paul Ricard. Everyone in France is getting very excited. There is a lot of enthusiasm and strong expectations for the rest of the season. The performance level we have demonstrated definitely makes us keen to see what we can produce in the coming races. We will tackle this weekend with the same approach as before.
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.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
Before Baku I had a couple of difficult race weekends, so the result there was a good feeling. Compared to previous races, my preparation was much better than normal and right from FP1, I felt ready. The week before Baku I moved to Italy, spending most of the time in the factory, studying our approach to race week and looking at previous issues with the car. We decided to take a little bit of a different approach to the race week and have more conversations and that worked well. In Qualifying I made Q3 for the first time and overall, I think we have established a new baseline for how to approach a race. The overall result was okay, I’m quite happy, even if it was a shame I lost a place after the restart.
Since Azerbaijan I have been back in Italy. The weather and the food are good, and I can spend more time in the factory talking to the engineers. To move to Italy was the right decision and something really positive for me, although it does mean I have to travel back to the UK for simulator sessions.
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.

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