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Will Mercedes initiate the turnaround in the key race?

On paper, the Circuit Paul Ricard in France could be Mercedes’ best opportunity of the season to win a race. The track asphalt is pretty smooth, the curbs aren’t too high and the cornering characteristics should suit the W13 with their similarity to Barcelona and Silverstone.

The team has also brought another update to Le Castellet to finally close the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull. However, Mercedes driver George Russell does not want to lean too far out of the window for the weekend in France.

“I think we should benefit from the high temperatures and the slightly smoother asphalt surface,” says the Briton. “In general, as a team, we’re making a lot of progress at the moment and we’re getting a better understanding of what we have to do with the car to get more performance out of it. And I think that fact is more important than specific track characteristics.”

Russell confident of race win in 2022

Even if the first win in France doesn’t work out yet, Russell is certain that Mercedes will still win races this season: “Definitely!” he replies when asked. “In the last few races we understood the car, so now we just have to get more performance out of it.”

“I really believe that we will be fighting for wins in the second half of the season. We are making tremendous progress at the moment and I think we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic as a team. And now that we are within reach, the motivation is even higher.”

“In the first six races of the season it was more ‘trial and error’ because we first had to understand the problems we were having. We didn’t have a clear direction, whereas at the moment we know exactly which way to go,” says Russell.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton is a little more reserved for the French Grand Prix: “Of course you want to improve every weekend and I don’t really know what expectations I should have for this weekend.”

“We’re constantly changing things on the car so I’m hoping we’ll discover something new here that will take us a little further forward. But otherwise this has always been a good weekend for us so I hope it will be the same this time “Hamilton said.

The Circuit Paul Ricard returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018 and has been held three times since then. Hamilton was able to win the race in the first two years, while last season he was only just beaten by Max Verstappen.

Hamilton before the 300th Grand Prix start in Formula 1

In the 2022 edition, the seven-time Formula One World Champion will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix start in the premier class, becoming just the sixth driver to reach this milestone. However, so far no driver has been able to win a Grand Prix after the 300th race.

Asked about this statistic, Hamilton says: “I don’t mind because I’m working hard towards this win. I think at some point we will be able to fight with the guys up front again, whether it’s here or first is in five races.”

“To be honest, I don’t think about that much either, I’m more concerned with the journey. That’s the important part. We didn’t start the season as we had hoped, but we made progress and got more consistency,” says the Brit.

“Not a single person on our team gave up and we kept pushing,” he adds. “So I’m really proud of the progress and the experiences we’ve had. It’s been a really valuable lesson for all of us.”

He also suggests that after all these years of Mercedes dominance, followed by the abrupt drop in performance in 2022, it will be all the nicer to reach the top again: “I think we’ve sharpened our tools in many areas. When we’re back When we’re where I think we belong, we’ll appreciate it all the more.”

Russell sees Mercedes at an advantage for 2023

Russell agrees with his teammates that the crisis has made Mercedes even stronger: “When you have a fast car you might not think too much about the small details because when you win everything is in order.”

“But now we feel that we have to squeeze absolutely everything out of the car to be at least within four tenths of the top drivers. So I have no doubt that it makes us stronger as a team, but also as drivers. On On the other hand, you have to say that Red Bull and Ferrari have lived through this for the past eight years,” said Russell.

The Mercedes newcomer also sees his team at an advantage for the coming season as Mercedes have faced so many problems this year that the competition may have to face in the future, giving them an experience advantage.

“The difficulties we had earlier this year will pay off next year because other teams didn’t have those problems and they might fall into these traps later in the development process. We definitely have a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” explains Russell.

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