Lewis Hamilton and George Russell tipped to be shock French GP winners with Mercedes 'bulletproof' reliability | The Sun

LEWIS HAMILTON and George Russell have been tipped to record a shock win in the French Grand Prix thanks to Mercedes' "bulletproof" reliability.

That's the view of former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who thinks the team could finally be ready for the top step of the podium for the first time this season.

Mercedes' struggles have been one of the themes of the season as the eight-times Constructors' Champions have found themselves off the pace.

Red Bull and Ferrari have largely dominated the season so far, but the signs are positive for the Silver Arrows.

Writing in his regular F1 column, ex-Renault racer Palmer said he believes the time has come for them to take victory.

He said: "We're halfway through a season where few would have expected Mercedes to have barely had a sniff of victory so far and have a best finish of third.

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"The Silver Arrows, prodigiously strong for the past decade, built a car with the all-new regulations that seems to have some fundamental flaws. Its level of bouncing has meant the team have been chasing their tail trying to troubleshoot their problems.

"Incredibly, given the performance of their car, the team have still managed to finish a race weekend on the podium more often than not so far."

Hamilton has now clocked up three podiums in a row after early season struggles with his "disastrous" and "undriveable" car.

He is also the only driver yet to retire this season, while his teammate Russell only had a non-finish after that dramatic collision with Zhou Guanyu at Silverstone.

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Palmer added: "In fact, while Mercedes have been picking up podiums that their pace hasn’t necessarily deserved thanks to their bulletproof reliability, it has also highlighted another quirk of 2022: only Lando Norris has secured a podium outside of the top six so far this year with his drive at Imola – Mercedes’ most absent race of the season.

"There are signs now, though, that they are getting on top of it and are merging back towards being genuine front-runners once more.

"It's better to look at Hamilton’s race pace for the genuine pace of the Merc in Austria, and once again it looked on Sunday to be a fairly close match to the dominant Ferrari of Charles Leclerc after the seven-time champ hit clear air. This is why he managed to overcut a string of midfielders.

"The French Grand Prix up next is one of the smoothest circuits, made up of predominantly medium and high-speed corners. Mercedes have always gone well there in the past, and it surely poses their best chance of fighting for victory on merit so far this year."

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Despite the improvements of Mercedes, they have not managed to keep pace with their rivals.

And at the halfway stage of the season the World Championship looks certain to go to either Ferrari or Red Bull, with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc still the frontrunners for their teams.

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