The track has changed a bit since F1 drivers last tackled it 28 years ago. The track is 5.8km in length and has been revised to make it suitable for modern grand prix cars and was been completely resurfaced last winter, while some of the corners have been slightly reshaped to increase overtaking opportunities and there should be plenty of interest generated in this respect at the chicane which now cuts in half the long Mistral straight. Drivers will be braking very hard, hitting the speed trap at over 340 km/h.
Another iconic section of the Paul Ricard track is Signes corner, which comes right after the Mistral straight. In the past, journalists would go and watch their, taking bets on which drivers could take the corner flat out. Thanks to modern technology there is no longer any need to actually stand trackside to see which ones are the bravest of the brave: in fact, simulation tools show that Signes will still be one of the most fearsome corners on the calendar as the drivers will hit the apex at 330 km/h.
We are delighted to be returning to France for one of the historic races of this sport, even more so as, in his first full season, Pierre Gasly will be able to experience the thrill of a home race. The French Grand Prix was the very first Grand Prix: it was held in Le Mans in 1906. The circuit was a 105 km and it took an hour to do a lap. As for Formula 1, there have been 58 French GP from 1950 to 2008, apart from 1955, after the huge crash on the 11th June of that year during the Le Mans 24 Hours. The F1 French GP was only run once at Le Mans, 4 times at Clermont-Ferrand, 5 at Rouen (the city where Pierre was born,) 5 at Dijon and 11 at Reims. The Paul Ricard track hosted 14 races, the last dating back to 1990. From ’91 onwards the race moved to Magny Cours, running every year up to 2008.