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Hamilton and Mercedes hoping for return to form at French GP
- Updated: June 17, 2021
LE CASTELLET, France: Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team hope to find a positive sense of “deja vu” and a return to winning form at this weekend’s French Grand Prix following two shattering street circuit defeats.
The seven-time champion and the defending champion team were well beaten in both Monte Carlo and Baku, losing their long consecutive points-scoring records of 54 and 55 races respectively as Red Bull took command with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez claiming victories.
Dutchman Verstappen, deprived of victory in Azerbaijan by a late puncture while leading, goes to the sun-baked Circuit Paul Ricard, close to Marseille, with a four-point lead in the drivers’ title race while his buoyant team head the constructors? championship by 26.
For Mercedes, it has been an unprecedented collapse in form in the modern hybrid-turbo era, but Verstappen has warned that he expects them to recover with a vengeance this weekend as Hamilton seeks a French hat-trick.
“I’m feeling good, but I’m sure that Mercedes will be very strong on the ‘normal’ tracks again – so we have to keep pushing and keep improving right to the very end because it’s never enough.
“So far, the season has been pretty good to us, but we need to remember that there are still a lot of races ahead.”
Hamilton won from pole in 2018 and 2019 and, without a race last year, he can re-boot Mercedes’ season with a third straight triumph in the Provencal sunshine and hope team-mate Valtteri Bottas also has a change of fortune.
“These have been the most difficult weeks I have known,” admitted Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “Now, we have to make sure we can compete for this championship – we cannot lose points like we have done. It’s just not acceptable.
“There are a lot of things not going as smoothly as in recent years. In such a close, intense title fight, we need to deliver a car at each race which both our drivers can confidently push to its limits.”
While Mexican Perez secured his second career win in Baku, Hamilton was left to rue a brake-settings mistake that cost him a possible win while second and finished 15th as Bottas failed to score – the team?s first pointless race since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix.