Lewis Hamilton admits difficulty in identifying Paul Ricard layout

Lewis Hamilton says the array of different segments of circuit at Paul Ricard makes identifying the actual layout tricky in certain areas.

Formula 1 has returned to France after a decade-long absence at Paul Ricard, last used in 1990, and which was renovated and re-established as a test track, before re-opening for racing.

Paul Ricard features over 100 possible layouts, and Formula 1 has elected to use the 5.8km-long track, using the North Chicane along the Mistral Straight.

The situation is complicated by the presence of the vibrant run-off areas, designed to provide extreme grip and high tyre degradation in the event of running wide, which are painted in blue and red stripes.

Sebastian Vettel almost turned into the wrong segment of circuit during FP1 and Hamilton admitted that the number of different sections of available track causes some confusion.

“It's always a challenge when you come to a new circuit, but you're constantly learning new things and I love the challenge of trying to get into the swing of it before everyone else,” he said.

“There's a lot of different lines you can take and it's tricky to find reference points out on the track.

“Apart from the colourful lines, it's difficult to tell where you are.

“There's a couple of places for example on the back straight where you're trying to find out where the corner is – it's really hard to see.”

Hamilton led the way during both practice sessions on Friday as he wound up with a seven-tenths advantage at the conclusion of running, having run Mercedes’ Phase 2.1 engine update.

“The new engine feels clean and fresh, but we won't really know its full potential until tomorrow when everyone gets to turn their engines up,” he said.

“I'm grateful for the hard work that everyone put into it back in Brixworth. They've been pushing so hard to get this engine and do it in the right way, so a big thank you to everyone back at the factory - I hope that we can do something great with it!

“Overall, it was a good session today - now we need to carry on this performance through the weekend.”