Open Wheel News
French Grand Prix - Preview - AT&T Williams
Jun 16, 2008 - 9:48:37 AM
After a brief trip across the Atlantic for the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula One moves to
France this weekend for round eight of the Championship and the first of seven
consecutive European races, the French Grand Prix. The Circuit de Nevers, nestled in
the depth of the French countryside in the Bourgogne region of central France, is 150
miles to the south of Paris and made its first appearance on the Formula One calendar in
1991. The track is one of seven French circuits to have hosted a Grand Prix since the
country’s first race in 1950.
Williams has a strong tradition of success in France. In the thirty years that it has raced
on French asphalt, the team has taken a quarter of all possible victories, secured a third
of all poles and set one in every four fastest laps, making it one of the most successful
teams to have raced at the oldest Grand Prix on the calendar. Having spent three days
testing at Barcelona after the Canadian Grand Prix preparing the cars for the race at
Magny-Cours, the team will be determined to capitalise on its competitive pace and
elevate its position in the Constructors’ Championship this forthcoming weekend.
I really like the Circuit de Nevers. I’ve had some great races there in the past, and it’s a
return to Europe as well, which is good. Magny-Cours hasn’t been one of our strongest
tracks in recent years, so we’ll need to push hard. Unfortunately, it’s going to be harder
than usual as I have the ten-place grid penalty from the pit lane incident in Montreal to
contend with as well. We had a three day test in Barcelona last week, during which we
did some set-up work for this race and tested some new parts, all of which will hopefully
help us this weekend to achieve a good result.
I have some experience of Magny-Cours because I raced there last year in GP2. It’s a
nice track to drive, so I feel quite confident going into the weekend. We showed good
pace at the past two races in Monaco and Canada and we need to carry that with us to
France and make up for the recent drought in points. As for the place itself, it’s really in
the middle of nowhere and so a bit quiet, very different to Montreal, but I quite like that
and am looking forward to getting there.
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1
We will be bringing various aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades to the FW30 for the
French Grand Prix to further improve the cars’ performance. All the parts were tested at
the Barcelona test last week and all were successfully signed-off.
The Circuit de Nevers has a good mix of corners which create a great challenge for the
drivers and engineers. Aerodynamic efficiency and a good balance in the long, high
speed corner before the back straight is essential for a strong time in sector one. The
circuit then transforms to one made up of slow speed corners and chicanes for the
remainder of the lap.
Strategy is always interesting in France because the time that is lost in the pitlane is
relatively minimal, which allows for a three, or even a four stop strategy, both of which
have been used in the past. Bridgestone are taking the medium and soft tyre compounds
to this race which will also play a part in the outcome of the race.
Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours
Set amid rural surroundings in France’s Burgundy region, the 4.4km Circuit de Nevers is
characterised by a collection of slow hairpins, medium speed corners and high speed
chicanes. The French track requires a high downforce set-up, one which provides
stability through the twisty sections, but one which equally does not compromise straight
Magny-Cours is renowned for its smooth surface which, when combined with the area’s
variable temperatures, provides one of the greatest challenges for the teams over the
weekend. The unpredictable weather in the region, which can generate track
temperatures in excess of 50°C, places high thermal loadings on the tyres, while the
slower hairpins also generate longitudinal loadings, all of which can destabilise the
balance of the car. With several acute braking events (the drivers will experience 4g
when braking from 300km/h down to 60km/h into the Adelaide hairpin), durable brakes
are also a pre-requisite. Aerodynamic efficiency and car driveability are therefore key for
a successful race this weekend.
2002 Speed Arena