Ferrari asserted their authority in Canada, with Sebastian Vettel clinching a dominant victory to snatch the lead in the drivers’ standings. And Valtteri Bottas believes the Prancing Horse are the ones to beat this weekend as F1 returns to France for the first time in a decade…
F1 has enjoyed a three-way battle for Grand Prix victories in the opening third of this season, with Mercedes and Red Bull picking up two wins apiece and Ferrari making it three last time out in Canada. The latter was particularly surprising given Mercedes had been so strong in Montreal, having won the last three editions.
With that in mind, Bottas reckons Ferrari will be the benchmarks at Paul Ricard this weekend. “Ferrari are the favourites, based on what we saw in Montreal both in raw pace, in qualifying, and in the race,” he said. “In theory [our car] should be OK [at Paul Ricard], but in theory Montreal was going to be good for us but Ferrari was quicker than us. It’s going to be tricky with possibly three teams fighting for the win. But we’ll learn more tomorrow.”
Mercedes had aimed to deliver an engine upgrade in Canada, but postponed its introduction because of a ‘quality’ concern. It had been anticipated the new specification would be used in France, particularly as both Lewis Hamilton and Bottas have done seven races with the same engine. But Mercedes are remaining tight-lipped as to whether that would in fact be the case.
“For sure we need to take some kind of new engine, because the other one is already seven races old,” said Bottas. “We are very much wanting to run the new spec, but we need to confirm tomorrow if we can or not.
“It is extremely close between the top three teams in every race weekend, so any gain we can make will be very important if we want to win the title. For sure we’re looking forward to having the new one and that’s our plan, so let’s hope we can use it.