Formula One heads to the south of France with the return of the French Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News June 21, 2018 Updated: 3:08 AM PT
After a decade off the calendar, the French Grand Prix returns to Formula One and the Paul Ricard Circuit just outside of Marseille, France in the beautiful city of Le Castellet. Sunday's race will be the first F1 Grand Prix in France since the last one held at Magny-Cours in 2008.
The return to France will be a long awaited return for many. The event will also give the opportunity for French F1 team Renault , Haas driver Romain Grosjean, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly to race on home soil.
"The return of the French Grand Prix is going to carry an added level of emotion for all at Renault. Everyone who works for the marque is proud of our heritage at this event,” said Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul after his team scored a positive result in Montreal and are currently sitting fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Force India driver Esteban Ocon said: “It’s been my dream for years to be racing in front of my home crowd and now I will finally experience the fantastic feeling of a home Grand Prix. When the race was announced, it was the best news from the whole of last year and I’m really looking forward to it. I am very proud of the work of all the people involved in bringing the French Grand Prix back and I hope the event will be a success.
“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean.
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly who is seven races into his first full season of Formula One said, “I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France. I can’t wait to get to Le Castellet.”
The last time the Ricard Circuit hosted the Formula One Grand Prix was 28 years ago making Sunday's race a first for most of the drivers on the grid.
Michael Schumacher holds the most French Grand Prix victories with eight. Alain Prost holds six French Grand Prix victories and is also the only driver to have won the French Grand Prix at three different venues.
With 15 turns, the Paul Ricard Circuit sits between 1,340 to 1,450 feet above sea level. New tarmac was recently laid on the circuit and in the pit lane. The Mistral straight was also reduced from 1.1 to 0.62 miles in length., and asphalt run-off zones were replaced with gravel beds.
Formula One’s official tire supplier, Pirelli, have brought three of their softest tire compounds to France, the soft Yellow band), supersoft (Red band) and ultrasoft (Purple band) tire.
The French Grand Prix is one of three races on consecutive weekends that make up F1’s first triple header with the Austrian Grand Prix a week later followed by the British Grand Prix the next week.