Le Castellet, France - Lewis Hamilton can expect a welcome boost in engine power this weekend as Formula One embarks on an unprecedented triple-header at a French Grand Prix returning to the calendar after a decade's absence. Le Castellet's Paul Ricard circuit last hosted a Formula One race in 1990, before 10 of the current 22 drivers were born, and has been reconfigured from the one fondly remembered by older generations.
France's most recent Grand Prix was at Magny-Cours in 2008, the year Hamilton won his first world championship with McLaren, and it remains a rare country that has yet to see the Mercedes driver triumph. If the four-times world champion does so on Sunday, he will take another record from retired great Michael Schumacher; that of the most wins at different Grands Prix. The pair are tied on 22 at present, although Hamilton already holds the record for different tracks (25) after winning in Azerbaijan in 2018.
Hamilton is one point behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after seven races, with Vettel taking the lead in Canada two weekends ago when he celebrated his 50th career win. Ferrari and other rivals had an engine upgrade for that race and Mercedes did not.
Reigning champion Mercedes had delayed the introduction of its planned upgrade due to what it said was a 'quality issue', a problem that also affected customer teams Williams and Force India. That should change as of this weekend, with Mercedes planning on making the change and Hamilton determined to hit back hard in the first of three races on consecutive weekends.
"I’m really going to make sure that we come back strong at the next race," he said after Canada.