It meant Red Bull could generate greater downforce and prevent excessive wear on the tyres through the corners but not lose out on the straights as much to Mercedes as the wing deflected down to reduce drag.
On top of that, the fallout from the Pirelli tyre failures in Baku have meant that teams will have to adhere to strict mandates on how they treat their tyres. Teams will no longer be allowed to remove tyre blankets for longer than 30 seconds before leaving the garage. Will that change the picture at the top on Saturday?
Mercedes will be hoping so as it has been fortunate to remain close to the championship leaders over the past two races with dire results back to back.
It arrives at a track it is yet to lose at. When F1 last visited Paul Ricard, the Silver Arrows claimed a 1-2 finish as Lewis Hamilton won comfortably. On the last ‘proper’ circuit, Hamilton took victory with stronger race pace than Max Verstappen in Barcelona as the Mercedes went easier on the tyres than its rival.
Can Verstappen change that this year and extend his championship lead? It’ll be a closely fought affair between the two.
2021 French Grand Prix session times
Free Practice 1: 10:30 – 11:30
Free Practice 2: 14:00 – 15:00
Free Practice 3: 11:00 – 12:00
Qualifying: 14:00 – 15:00
Race: 14:00 – 16:00