A returning race, a new circuit... here are a few of the reasons why we can't wait for the French GP!
1. Making a Return
It's always exciting when a race returns to the Formula One calendar, especially when it's the most historic of them all. France is renowned for being the birthplace of motor racing, so it was a shame to see the race drop off the calendar after the 2008 season - following an 18-year run at Magny-Cours.
But, fortunately, the race has made a triumphant return one decade later and we can't wait for F1 cars to be back on French soil this weekend. It's such a significant country for both motorsport and F1. Plus, the fans are some of the most knowledgeable around. So, we're thrilled to be back in France.
2. A Fresh Challenge
The returning French GP takes place at Paul Ricard, a circuit that has changed considerably since F1 last raced there in 1990. This presents teams with a unique and interesting challenge, because they have very little historical data and information about the track.
Therefore, pre-race preparations are a little different this time round, because they are effectively starting from scratch. Some teams have tested at Paul Ricard over recent years, but in differing conditions and on various track configurations (there are quite a few...)
This all means that teams head into the event with many questions waiting to be answered. Who will be the team to beat? What will the racing be like? We'll have to wait and see, won't we!
3. Non-Stop Action!
This weekend marks the start of F1's first-ever triple header. Both fans and teams alike have never experienced so much F1 action in such a short space of time, starting in France and continuing over the following weeks in Austria and Great Britain.
It's going to be a relentless and exhilarating run of races, and a very busy time for the team. The 2018 F1 season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in years and the next few races will be decisive in the title battle. But, we're ready for the challenge and can't wait for the fight!
4. History and Heritage
The French Grand Prix is described as the 'oldest grand prix in motor racing', having first been held back in 1906 - with a grid that featured several Mercedes racing machines. In fact, France is also renowned for hosting the first ever motor racing competition: Paris-Rouen in 1894.
Mercedes has a long and illustrious racing heritage in France, including victory at Dieppe in 1908, a podium lockout in 1914 and stunning triumphs in 1935 and 1938, during the dominant Silver Arrows era of the 1930s.
Since the formation of the F1 World Championship in 1950, Mercedes has started just one French GP. But, the team won its sole start on French soil, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling taking a commanding 1-2 finish. Since Mercedes returned to F1 in 2010, France has not been part of the schedule. But that changes this weekend...
5. The Juniors are Back
F1's feeder categories return to the support bill for the French GP, with both FIA Formula 2 and GP3 in action. The junior series always produce exciting and unpredictable racing, so we can't wait to see what they have in store at Paul Ricard.
Our very own Reserve Driver George Russell will be racing in F2 this weekend, looking to return to the top step of the podium after a tough time in Monaco. So, if you're at Paul Ricard, be sure to give George a cheer when he's on track!
Key timings for events at the track, for those of you in France and wanting to keep up from home!