Williams has often performed well at Magny Cours, scoring five wins and eight poles in the 13 years since the French GP moved to the Nevers circuit. But Ferrari, Renault and perhaps BAR Honda might have the measure of Williams’ updated FW26 this weekend.

Williams has often performed well at Magny Cours, scoring five wins and eight poles in the 13 years since the French GP moved to the Nevers circuit. But Ferrari, Renault and perhaps BAR Honda might have the measure of Williams’ updated FW26 this weekend.


Noted for its ultra-smooth tarmac, Magny Cours often divides driver opinions, with many regarding the circuit as “boring” and “bland”. A revised final section failed to satisfy the critics at the 2003 event, but continued the perception that the circuit favoured Williams - confirmed by a clean sweep for the now injured Ralf Schumacher and Juan-Pablo Montoya.


Tyres were Ferrari’s only concern at Indy, but this did not prevent the Scuderia duo of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello from coming home almost ten seconds clear of third-placed Takuma Sato. Barrichello also appeared to be back on form, building on the strong showing he put up in Canada, so both red cars could be on track for victory this weekend.


Renault celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first F1 win - also on French soil - this week, and will be looking for a return to its previous ultra-reliable form to mark the occasion at Magny-Cours. The team’s technical director Bob Bell sees the venue as “a standard circuit - with the usual expectation of challenging for podium positions”.


Jenson Button and Takuma Sato will be hoping that a combination of work in the wind tunnel by French tyre supplier Michelin and BAR Honda’s latest aero package will get them in a position to score the team’s first F1 victory this weekend.


Williams-BMW’s Montoya be partnered by Marc Gene this weekend and can take heart from the team's recent record in France. Indianapolis demonstrated a significant improvement in terms of the FW26's competitiveness and two upgraded versions of the car - featuring revised aerodynamics - will be present at Magny-Cours.


The upgraded FW26 will catch a few eyes, but more than most will be cast in the direction of McLaren, which has confirmed that it will be running its reworked MP4-19B for the first time at Magny-Cours. The MP4-19B, which will be driven by both Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard, has revised aerodynamics and is said to have demonstrated better handling and reliability in tests at Silverstone and Jerez. Magny-Cours technical nature will also help the team nurse its Mercedes-Benz V10 engines.


Sauber conducted a three-day test in Barcelona last week. New suspension parts caused grip and tyre wear problems at Indianapolis, but Sauber is hopeful that the test and a chance to work with Bridgestone will have cured the problems for this weekend. A new front wing, the latest product of the team's new windtunnel, will also be pushed into duty at Magny-Cours.

Original article from Car