French GP: Williams preview

FRENCH GRAND PRIX PREVIEW 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.


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.

Nico Rosberg

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.

Kazuki Nakajima

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 line speed.

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 50o.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.

Online this week at The AT&T Williams Canadian Grand Prix podcast, the French GP Flyby, Nico Rosberg's Canadian GP Column, Kazuki's GP Blogs, iWitness and the third of a series of Behind the Scenes features on WF1TV, "Unsung Heroes: the AT&T Williams Test Team."

-credit: williams

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nico Rosberg , Kazuki Nakajima
Teams Williams