French GP: Ferrari bringing 'small evolutions', Mercedes expect fight
Ferrari seeking "direction", but stress new elements "won't be solution to our problems"; Mercedes address Paul Ricard "challenge"
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 19/06/19 10:39am
Ferrari will have "a few small evolutions" on their car at the French GP as F1's most-famous team look to break their 2019 duck, while Mercedes expect "another tough fight" with their rivals.
But Ferrari have also stressed that while the new additions will be key in defining their development direction, they also "won't be the solution to our problems".
The Scuderia head into the season's first double-header still looking for their first win after Sebastian Vettel's contentious penalty in Canada saw Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton take another victory, a decision the team continue to challenge.
But the Italian outfit say they are ready to take the fight to the Silver Arrows again this weekend.
"Following Canada we definitely want to get back on track and go racing with our rivals once again," team principal Mattia Binotto said.
"In France we will have a few small evolutions, elements that represent for us a useful step in defining the direction we will take in developing the car.
"What we will be bringing won't be the solution to our problems, but the technical feedback we get from these evolutions will be important for the next steps we take."
Who will France suit: Merc or Ferrari?
Mercedes, meanwhile, have described Canada as a "wake-up call" in their near-perfect campaign after suffering reliability problems on both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas' cars - admitting they "could have easily ruined our weekend".
Toto Wolff added that the team "expect another tough fight in France", though admitting that while the Paul Ricard track has several long straights which should suit Ferrari's engine, it also has twisty sectors where the Scuderia have regularly struggled, and the Silver Arrows have shone.
"The circuit features some similarities to Montreal and the long straights will present a challenge for us," the Mercedes boss explained.
"However, unlike Canada, the corner characteristics are spread across a range of speeds, which should play to our advantage. We're looking forward to the chance to put a few things right again."
Binotto spoke in Canada about Ferrari misjudging their SF90 package this year with the team failing to compete with Mercedes through the corners, and he continued: "Paul Ricard has been a tricky circuit for us last year and we know that this kind of track isn't particularly favourable for our package.
"But nothing is impossible so we will be ready to do our best."
But Vettel, who clashed with Valtteri Bottas at Turn One in France last season, was more positive about his team's chances.
"The circuit has long straights and low-speed corners, although there is a wider range of corner speeds there," the German said. "Most of the corners have been resurfaced since last year
"Last year our race was compromised by the first lap incident but I think our car can have the pace to do quite well there."
Sky Sports F1's LIVE French GP schedule
Thursday, June 20
2pm: Drivers' Press Conference
5pm: Welcome to the Weekend
Friday, June 21
9.45am: French GP Practice One build-up
10am: French GP Practice One
11.50am: F2 Practice
1.45pm: French GP Practice Two build-up
2pm: French GP Practice Two
3.50pm: F2 Qualifying
4.30pm: French GP: The Story So Far
5pm: F3 Qualifying
Saturday, June 22
9.30am: F3 Race One
10.45am: French GP Practice Three build-up
11am: French GP Practice Three
1pm: French GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: FRENCH GP QUALIFYING
3.35pm: F2 Race One
4.45pm: The F1 Show
Sunday, June 23
8.55am: F3 Race Two
10.15am: F2 Race Two
12.30pm: French GP Pit Lane Live
1.30pm: French GP On The Grid
2.10pm: THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX LIVE!
4pm: French GP Paddock Live
5pm: French GP: The Notebook
8pm: French GP highlights
9pm: French GP race replay
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