Lewis Hamilton will be set for a huge boost in his bid to win his first race of the season this weekend at the French Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz is set to face an engine penalty. Hamilton holds an incredible record for winning a race in every season that he’s competed in F1.
That impressive feat is under threat more than ever this year though with Mercedes yet to give him a car capable of challenging at the front for race wins. The Austrian Grand Prix represented the halfway point of the season with 11 races left in the campaign.
While Mercedes started on the back foot, they’ve seen huge improvements in recent races. Either George Russell or Hamilton has managed to finish on the podium in five of the last six Grands Prix.
But neither Mercedes driver is yet to break into the second step of the podium or higher. Red Bull and Ferrari have set the pace throughout the year with the former team sitting top of the Constructors’ Championship.
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have shared the majority of the race win this year with both Sergio Perez and Sainz winning one apiece. In the races where Sainz hasn’t had to retire due to engine faults or other issues, he’s regularly up there challenging and Hamilton is yet to finish in front of the Spaniard.
But the French Grand Prix will be Hamilton’s best chance to do just that with Sainz likely out of the running to compete for a podium spot. The 27-year-old suffered an engine failure last time out in Austria, meaning he will need a new power unit for this weekend’s race.
That will see him drop to the back of the grid for Sunday and give Hamilton a boost in his chances of catching the other frontrunners. Hamilton will still need a car capable of pushing Ferrari and Red Bull, but Leclerc will not have his teammate there to help him in any situation.
The characteristics of the track at Paul Ricard are expected to work in Mercedes’ favor due to the high-speed corners and smooth track surface. More upgrades are also set to be introduced which could be the difference for the Silver Arrows to finally challenge Red Bull and Ferrari on the track.
But not having Sainz up there from the start of the race on Sunday will give Hamilton hope of at least another podium, if not more.