Mercedes replaced the chassis on the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the French Grand Prix, and on the first day at the Paul Ricard track, the Finn did much better. Bottas finished his first free practice in the first place and was 0.335 seconds faster than his teammate.
Max Verstappen had the best time in the second practice at Red Bull, but again Valtteri was very close - only eight thousandths slower than the Dutchman, and two tenths faster than Hamilton. It is obvious that Bottas feels much better in the car, which in a way confirms his theory about a certain problem on the car two weeks ago in Baku.
“It’s hard to say whether it’s because of the chassis or because of the conditions on the track, but the feeling is much better than two weeks ago, that’s for sure." "I could feel that we started the weekend in the right way, everything seemed pretty good and I was fast in the car so far.
” “This is such a different track than Baku, but the balance is good and the tires are working well. I have confidence in the car, I can trust him and that's the biggest difference ", says Valtteri and expects a big battle with Red Bull later this weekend: "I think it will be close.
We expect them to be good, and for now, there seems to be little difference between us and them. We'll see tomorrow. I'm sure they still have a lot to offer, and so do we. " Hamilton, on the other hand, is not too happy with his result and will look for some improvements for Saturday.
Still, he says it has nothing to do with chassis replacement.
Hamilton about the race
Asked what he will do to catch Verstappen and Bottas, Lewis replies: “I’m looking at all the options. We’ve made a lot of changes, we’ll probably analyze a lot tonight and hope it gets better tomorrow, but we won’t know until we get back on track.
However, the times are not terrible, we are close to the top and we are in a fight. " “I don’t think the chassis change had any impact. I mean, the track is different, so you very rarely have any differences between the chassis.
” The head of the team, Toto Wolff, also spoke about this topic. He emphasizes that this is not something unusual, but that the replacement of parts is a normal thing. “We’re constantly changing parts, it’s part of the plan because these chassis were carried over from last season, so we don’t accumulate millions of miles with one."
"It's good to get feedback, and if it will calm the driver's mind, we also have a spare that is completely new, so it can always be used. "