Lewis Hamilton has expressed doubts about the track layout at Paul Ricard, which is set to host its first grand prix since 1990 when the French Grand Prix makes its return to Formula 1’s European calendar in June. Hamilton went on to argue that Magny-Cours – which hosted the last French Grand Prix in 2008 – would have been a better venue for the race.
When speaking to Canal+ Sport in December, the reigning champion confessed his ambivalent feelings about the 5.8km Le Castellet circuit. “Honestly I don’t like it, just to be straight with you. I loved it when we used to have the grand prix in Magny-Cours. [Paul Ricard] is in a beautiful place, but the track, when I say I don’t like it, it’s not as great as Magny-Cours.
“I think the most important thing is that we do have a grand prix back in France because it’s an important part of Europe, it’s an important part of the European tour. France has so many beautiful, beautiful circuits – Le Mans, for example – and for some reason we don’t have it at the most beautiful track.
Perhaps surprisingly for a staple European venue, Hamilton has never raced at Paul Ricard, however, he has conducted a test at the circuit, driving his Mercedes W08 as part of Pirelli’s tyre test programme in September. Hamilton took part in two French Grands Prix at Magny-Cours, a circuit that has the distinction of being one of only four circuits the Brit has raced on in F1 without collecting victory.