Following a hop over to Canada, Formula One returns to Europe with the first French Grand Prix in a decade.
This event also marks F1’s competitive return to Paul Ricard since 1990, having raced at Magny-Cours from 1991-2008 before funding issues saw the French GP pulled until now.
Circuit: Circuit Paul Ricard
Race Distance: 309.626km
Tyre Compounds: Softs, Supersofts and Ultrasofts
For Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon, this will be their first home race as Formula One drivers.
All three drivers however head into the weekend with different emotions.
Romain Grosjean is yet to put any points on the board ahead of his home race and so just wants “a good weekend” and hopefully get his first points of 2018 with “a lot of support from the fans.”
Force India’s Esteban Ocon meanwhile is buzzing to finally get to experience the “fantastic feeling of a home Grand Prix.” and has happy memories, having got his first single seater victory around this track in 2013.
He also believes that the track will suit Force India “with a long straight and some slow corners where we can use our car’s mechanical grip” to produce a strong weekend and continue their recent run of form.
Pierre Gasly meanwhile has conducted thorough research ahead of the race, speaking to fellow compatriots, Alain Prost and Jean Alesi who have told him to expect a “really special” feeling.
Gasly also boasts a decent record around here, having taken two wins, pole and a second placed finish so expect him to be in mix throughout weekend.
Overall, all three French drivers will have high hopes of delivering a strong weekend in front of their home fans.
Having lost the lead of the drivers’ championship to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, Mercedes will want to hit back here with their new power unit and get Lewis Hamilton back on top.
One advantage that many pundits haven’t realised is that by managing seven races on first engine, Mercedes can avoid an engine penalty this season if the next two can also last as long.
With teams only allowed three power units all season, Ferrari could very well be looking at a grid penalty come the final three races if they make an upgrade every six races then decide not to reuse a previous engine.
Therefore it is effectively advantage Mercedes if they can maintain their reliability across next two engines and this power circuit will give them an edge in power freshness.
This weekend sees F1 commence its first ever triple header with Austria and Great Britain to come right after this weekend.
For those new to the term ‘triple header’, it is a term used to describe three races back to back over three consecutive weekends.
These coming races therefore will be one of the most demanding on teams across the whole season.
Majority of teams haven’t mentioned this in their press previews apart from one team – Haas.
Their drivers seem to have different approaches to this challenge because Grosjean is looking to get a positive result this weekend, in hope that he can ride the crest of that positivity for the following two races.
Kevin Magnussen meanwhile seems relaxed about the task ahead and plans on “bringing people out to the races” as a way of maintaining “home life” as much as he can during this period.
Either way, this weekend will be defining in terms of how teams then go about the Austria and Great Britain races.
Missed any of the first seven race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend/s.