The French Grand Prix will make a welcome return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018, ten years after the last time the championship raced in the country.
The Paul Ricard circuit in the south of the country will host it’s first Grand Prix since 1990, a race won by Alain Prost for Scuderia Ferrari after the Frenchman passed Leyton House racer Ivan Capelli with three laps remaining, the final of its fourteen races at the track.
The Magny-Cours circuit held the last French Grand Prix in 2008, a race won Felipe Massa, also for Ferrari, but the race then sadly dropped off the calendar.
Paul Ricard has recently held some of the Pirelli tyre tests, particularly with the trackside sprinkler system enabling some testing of the wet and intermediate compounds, and the circuit has signed a five-year deal to host the French Grand Prix.
“Today I can announce clearly, firmly, and finally, the return of the French Grand Prix for the summer in 2018 in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, at the circuit Paul Ricard,” said Christian Estrosi – the head of the PACA region.
“We are proud of this great return after 10 years. In 2018 it will be 10 years since the Grand Prix left the country, and this is a huge victory for the men who worked for its success.
“When we know how motorsport is so popular in our country – and we are ambassadors and bearers of innovation, creation, research and development, it was for our country a real scar to lose the Grand Prix.
“Since then there have been several efforts – and I want to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and FFSA president Nicolas Deschaux and many others who worked hard for the return of the race.”
Stephane Clair, the track’s general manager, has welcomed the news that Paul Ricard and the French Grand Prix are returning to the Formula 1 schedule, and he believes the track is up to F1 standard and will be a complete success.
“We have always been optimistic because out site is up to the current standards of F1,” said Clair. “We talked with experts about technical issues and costs, to end certain preconceptions against us – like the alleged difficulties with access of spectator facilities.
“For the Bol D’Or in 2015, the traffic plan worked and that allowed us to accommodate 70,000 spectators. And this plan will evolve further by the French Grand Prix in 2018.”